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An Introduction to O'Brien Winemaker David Yorgensen


This year, 2020 marks the 20-year anniversary of O’Brien Estate’s first vintage and I am honored to say that I have been part of the journey since 2005 and have had a role in every vintage since 2003.

My journey began in 2004.  I had traveled from Vermont, with my wife and newborn son, with career changing aspirations of being in the wine industry and becoming a winemaker.  Prior to that life changing event, I had been working as both a carpenter and a fisheries biologist with the state of Vermont. Both career paths were leaving me feeling that there was something missing in my life.  While I enjoyed the creation and building aspect as a carpenter and the environmental stewardship as a biologist, I need something with more heart, soul, creativity and passion, and a career in wine was at the forefront of my mind.

The decision was made.  I loaded up my car with a few basics that I needed to make the trek west to start a new life, and pulled out of the driveway into the unknown.  Meanwhile my wife and son stayed behind to wrap up our home, pack up the bare minimum of our belongings into a small moving truck, and flew out to meet me a month later after I had secured adequate accommodations for our young, growing family.

My first job in the wine industry was with Seavey Vineyards working the 2004 vintage under the highly regarded consultant, Philippe Melka and directly alongside the winemaker, Matt Reid.   It was a great introduction to small, family owned and operated, estate winemaking. Production was small, but quality was essential. My desire for knowledge, information, and understanding for the craft was insatiable, and I began my quest to persistently find ways to help improve production and quality.  The drive to excel and achieve my goal of becoming a winemaker, on my own, continued to grow.

In the journey of life, much of our success can be tied to the relationships we forge along the way.  The people we choose to be with and the decisions we make help direct and guide us. I can say that I was very fortunate to be with some wonderful people from the beginning that provided support and opportunities that may have otherwise been nonexistent. 

It was through these relationships that I became aware of an opportunity to join a new winery as a key member of their production.  This was very exciting, because it was at the very beginning of O’Brien Estate and together, with Bart and Barb, we would create what O’Brien Estate is today.

It wasn’t always smooth sailing as we were all fairly new to the wine industry, but with Bart’s entrepreneurial spirit and business direction, Barb’s heart and soul in farming and love of the land, and my passion for the craft, we worked collectively to shape the vision, style, direction and quality of the vineyard and winery.  We made numerous improvements to the vineyard, winery and wines in an effort to continually push the boundaries of quality for both the wines and the customer.  

As technology improves, we have chosen to improve and advance with it, and have updated most our production equipment, such as pumps, tanks, destemmer, press, and bottling line all in an effort to maximize the quality potential of handling grapes, juice and wine.  We have modified the trellising in the vineyard, made cultivar and clonal alterations, improved farming practices, and presently we are replanting parts of the vineyard. These changes have greatly improved the raw material from which we make wine; the grapes. We have created reserve wines that showcase our best efforts in any vintage year. We have created additional wine style options that give our customers choices and that help tell the story of O’Brien Estate.  We have also improved our customer and member experience from the first interaction with staff to the final delivery of club shipments. This is just a small list of enhancements and we continue to focus our attention on how we can improve upon what we have already done.

Bart and Barb are like family now.  I have watched their children grow into adults.  They have watched my children grow into teenagers.  We have spent much time together through the ups and downs of the business, and we continue to love what we do and do what we love and make great wine!




David Yorgensen, Consulting Winemaker



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