This week’s Member Spotlight is on Old Silo Winery! The Winery is owned and operated by Jim and Michele Reilly and opened in September 2018. The Reillys were living in Dallas, TX when their son, Tom, enrolled at OU in 2006. The various drives through the lovely Oklahoma countryside to visit their son spurred an exciting idea and they purchased 20 acres with a cabin and garage in 2007. One of the first things they did upon arrival was planting a new vineyard.
Jim and Michele had been amateur winemakers since the 90’s; making their first wine from grapes grown in a small Michigan vineyard. Starting a winery was a dream, but when Jim retired in 2016, they realized that Johnston County was a viable location for a winery and seized the opportunity to act.
The Reillys wanted to add a distinctive element to the winery that connected with rural and rustic themes. They are not sure exactly what inspired them to use an old metal silo for the tasting room, but they had noticed that folks were making some interesting uses of old silos and grain bins. After a long search, they found an old grain bin for sale near Colony, Oklahoma. It was dismantled and trucked to the winery site where it was rebuilt. The silo became just the right thing to create the winery brand, name and attract visitors.
“When we opened the tasting room in September 2018, we knew how to make wine, but had never worked in retailing. Before opening, we turned to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Durant for guidance and training on sales, marketing and social media advertising.” The SBDC will be producing a Success Story video on the winery in the near future, the first from Johnston County!
“Other than keeping up with lots of regulations, the biggest challenge is attracting customers, locally and through tourism. To build awareness of our winery, we network with other local businesses, the Johnston County Chamber, Chickasaw Country and Oklahoma Agritourism program staff. We really appreciate how very enthusiastic and helpful everyone has been about our winery.”
This summer the Reillys added a beautiful wood deck with seating so that folks can enjoy a glass of wine and take in the pond view. In the fall, they hope to add an occasional local musician to the fun and relaxing atmosphere. For now, the business remains a family operation with Tom helping on the weekends and their daughter, Kelly, coordinating their social media and website design.
Jim & Michele’s approach to winemaking is to make flavorful wines that please a variety of palates. As small batch winemakers, they produce limited edition wines, focusing mainly on berry and grape blended wines. They carry a few dry table wines like Shiraz, Merlot or Chardonnay. On average they offer about 10 different types of wine and announce their new wines throughout the year on Facebook and Instagram. In their vineyard they grow Chambourcin grapes, a French American hybrid well suited to Oklahoma’s climate; from that they make a light bodied dry red wine.
Old Silo Winery is located at 2300 E. Cheadle Road just outside of Tishomingo, OK with hours of operation of 12 pm to 6 pm Wednesday and Thursday, 12 pm to 7 pm Friday and Saturday, and Sunday 12 pm to 5 pm. “Our goal is to give visitors a personalized and enjoyable wine tasting experience in a relaxed setting.” The silo tasting bar seats 6 people, so for a larger group, it is best to call a day ahead to schedule a time. They also serve a light cheese-board snack and wine by the glass. The entire winery is available to rent for small parties and weddings, meetings and seminars.
Read next week for a Spotlight on PBR Equipment!
“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” George Addair