Winemaker Ryan O’Meara, of Express Winemakers in Western Australia, had what he described as a gradual journey into winemaking. With a keen interest in science, winemaking seemed an excellent way of practising science but without having to stay in a lab all day. After finishing university in 2004, Ryan worked in the Barossa Valley and in California, then headed back to Australia and the Margaret River region. Yet rather than plunging straight into winemaking, he took a break from it for a while, working at Little Creatures as a brewer for a few years. A trip to Europe saw him again take to winemaking in Italy, France and Spain, followed by a return to Western Australia, settling in Great Southern. In 2011 he started Express Winemakers, after growing tired of seeing wines that failed to convey a sense of place and were instead unexciting. He believes that the Great Southern region of Western Australia has enormous potential, as it is the state’s only cool-climate region.
Like many young winemakers, Ryan isn’t afraid to tackle the ‘old favourites’, whilst experimenting with new techniques or using uncommon varieties. His range includes a Syrah made with wild yeast and matured in old oak and ceramic, as well as a riesling- named Franklandia- which included skin contact and maturation on its lees (dead yeast cells) for 6 months, a technique usually reserved for sparkling wines. There is also a spritzy chenin blanc, a rosé made from grenache, mourvèdre and sauvignon blanc, and for the truly adventurous, an “orange” wine made from riesling grapes that have undergone skin contact and aging in oak, which is rare for such a delicate grape as riesling. All of the wines are approachable, both in terms of their style and their price, and are meant to be enjoyed young, and help us all have fun. For further information on Ryan and his offerings, go to his website.