Maloy O'Neill Vineyards

2004 Hillside Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon

California: Paso Robles

Offer Expired:Jun 28, 2010 at 11:59 pm
Avg. Price

What We Say


The only place to purchase today’s wine is right here, because we raided Shannon O’Neill’s private stash – and got our hands on the only remaining bottles of this wine.


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Mission Codename: Sunshine is Delicious

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Return to Maloy O’Neill, in Paso Robles, and abscond with the world’s only bottles of Shannon O’Neill’s 2004 Windy Hill Cabernet Sauvignon. Procure as many cases as possible for our eager Operatives.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Maloy O’Neill

Wine Subject: 2004 Hillside Cabernet Sauvignon – Paso Robles

Winemaker: Shannon O’Neill

Backgrounder: Paso Robles has long been established as a wine producing region that give other California regions a run for their money. With a climate and soils that make for perfect growing conditions for grapes, it is no wonder. Winemakers in Paso are a somewhat unique breed, often declaring themselves to be the renegades of Cali wine. A meeting with Shannon O’Neill, winemaker and owner of Maloy O’Neill affirms this sentiment. A warm, excited and deeply passionate man, Shannon makes wines that reflect his personality. Join Agent Red as he visits Shannon – and returns with a cache of Shannon’s 2004 Windy Hill Cab for our O’Neill-loving Operatives.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Forboding and serious, with deep inky hues of the darkest garnet I have ever seen. Legs take a very long time to emerge after swirling. When they do, they take a long time to run down the glass, leaving chubby wine-stained trails as they go.

Smell – Blackest cherry and dried falls leaves leap instantly from the glass. Heady blackberry, wild berry bramble, dried meats, dark plum, leather and dark spice add to the overall complexity of the nose.

Feel – Instantly dry and grippy on entry and then, curiously, wet and light across the mid-palate. Then, the wine turns weighty at the edges, evolving and changing, revealing a fast-spreading grippiness that moves outward to the corners of the mouth.

Taste – Big and bold with big, concentrated flavors of dark chocolate-covered black cherries, blackberry and plum preserves, cassis and subtle dried meats.

Finish – Bold and extra long, with dark fruit and black, flinty minerals that linger long after the fruits dwindle.

Conclusion – We tend to showcase a great many wines from Sonoma and Napa, so when I get my hands on a Maloy O’Neill wine, from Paso Robles, it is always a unique experience. Shannon O’Neill is considered one of the pioneers of the region. He earned this distinction by being among the first winemakers to grow fruit and make wines there. Shannon’s wines are always a special treat, delivering a boldness of character that is pure Paso. Today’s wine was a real score for us, as it was squirreled away in Shannon’s private cellar. After some clever spy work, I was able to secure a few cases for our deserving Operative’s. This wine is big, delicious, deeply aromatic and very dynamic on the palate. Enjoy now or hold a bottle or two for a couple of years – if you can wait that long!

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Shannon O’Neill

WINE EDUCATION: B.S. Fermentation Science, U.C.Davis

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: 1982-Present, Vice President, Vineyard Operations, O’Neill Vineyards, Paso Robles, CA; 1999-Present, President, Winemaker, Maloy O’Neill Vineyards, Paso Robles, CA; 2005- Present, Wine Production Consultant For Various Start Up Wineries on the Central Coast of California.

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Making great wine while developing one on one customer relationships.

WINEMAKER QUOTE: “I love making big, extracted, intense varietal character wines, and lots of them”



AGENT RED: Greetings, Shannon. We are thrilled to be showing your 2005 Enzo today. We featured your ’04 Enzo, last year and our Operatives loved it. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

SHANNON: The pleasure is all mine!

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

SHANNON: I think my horticulture class in the 5th grade, started my love for growing things. That developed into growing grapes when my family purchased 180 acres in Paso Robles in 1980. My sister convinced me to go to UC Davis because they needed winemakers for the new developing wine industry in the early 1980’s. She was in her 2nd year as a Viticulture major and I had just graduated high school and had plans to take over my father’s medical practice. My efforts to get into a premed university were daunting despite my great GPA and SAT scores. My sister suggested I sign up for the Fermentation Science Program at Davis which was the exact same first two years curriculum as a premed Biology major consisting of basically, lots of math and science. She told after your second year, transferring to a pre-med school would be very easy at that point. She was right, because there were only 13 students that signed up that year, and I slid right in. The only thing she was wrong about was, once I found out how cool being a winemaker was, med school was out!

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

SHANNON: Making Cabernet Sauvignon is the Holy Grail of winemaking. Cabernet has always been the backbone of my winemaking style and the history of my wines. Thank god, O’Neill Vineyards has been a never ending supply of high quality fruit for this endeavor!

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

SHANNON: Making Cabernet Sauvignon is the Holy Grail of winemaking. Cabernet has always been the backbone of my winemaking style and the history of my wines. Our two estate vineyards has always been a source of high quality fruit for this endeavor!

RED: Who do you make wine for?

SHANNON: I am the winemaker for our two estate brands, Maloy O’Neill Vineyards and O’Neill Vineyards and have been a production consultant and have done custom crush work for many small start up wineries on the central coast.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

SHANNON: The Hillside Cabernet Sauvignon is my favorite cab from the 2004 Vintage. When first released, it was sooo huge, that I put it aside to save the best for last. I made seven different Cabs in 2004, and the Hillside was one of the top picks. Big chewy tannins, enormous fruit, and a smooth mid palate, will allow this wine to age for many more years, but is drinking very nice right now. My experimental Hillside is hand manicured to a meager 1-2 tons per acre, to produce intense varietal character fruit. Nominally filtered, there is some sediment after 5 years in the bottle, but that’s my favorite part. It’s full of dark, chewy, goodness!

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Paso Region so special?

SHANNON:Paso Robles is unique because of its high diurnal temperature flux and great diversity in soil make up, from area to area. In the growing season, it will be in the mid 90’s during the day and in the 50’s at night. This radical temperature flux creates a wonderful sugar/acid balance that allows the vines in Paso Robles to become physiologically mature before harvest lending to the bigger style reds coming out of the area and a big part of our wineries success.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

SHANNON: Racking, topping and bottling, will take me right into the 2010 harvest. No rest for the weary!

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

SHANNON: I make 36 different wines a year so I have a huge portfolio of many different styles and varietals to choose from. There is literally something for everyone. But if your one of those wine drinkers that like big, huge, extracted, intense varietal character reds, than you’re going to love my wines, because that is what I specialize in, and that is where my passion is! The Fremere is delicate dinner wine, that goes good with most foods, but I have many wines that are quaffing wines only, that can be served as the meal, so whatever style you like, go through the list on our website, and I promise you will find what you’re looking for!

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

SHANNON: I would just like to thank all of you for your unending support, and also the wine spies who do a wonderful job at picking wines that are unique and of interest to people who are looking for something more than what is available on the supermarket shelves. The Spies have consistently choose wines from all the different wineries they feature, that are worth checking out, and they also expose wineries who do not have worldwide distribution to and audience that might never get a chance to try new and exciting wines from small mom and pop wineries from many different regions! I welcome all of you to come to Paso Robles to see all the great things going on here, and if you do! Please visit us and say hello. For all of those who take me up on my offer, just mention your from the Spies and we will give you an extra discount on all wines and waive your tasting fees! Thank you again, and hope to see you soon!

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

SHANNON: The pleasure is all mine. Thank you Wine Spies for introducing so many new wine fans to the Maloy O’Neill portfolio. Keep the good work!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Maloy O’Neill Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

About This Wine:

This wine is one for the ages! Intense varietal character with huge chewy tannins will enable this wine to age for the long haul. This is about as big as it gets for Cabernet Sauvignon. Grown on O’Neill Vineyards experimental “Hillside”, super low yields resulted from intense canopy management and hand manicured farming techniques. One of the best of Maloy O’Neill’s seven different Cabernet’s from 2004. Get it now or forever hold your peace!

About The Winery:

Maloy O’Neill Vineyards is dedicated to making the highest quality wines in limited quantities while maintaining superior one-to-one client relationships. Through this dedication, the family belives in and aspires to providing a legacy for future generations of the Maloy O’Neill Clan. Maloy O’Neill is a family owned and operated vineyard and winery located in California’s beautiful Central Coast region.

We are dedicated to producing estate-bottled varietals and site-specific wines from our vineyards and other selected vineyards in the Paso Robles area. These vineyards have consistently produced high quality, intensely fruity vintages. Premium wine handcrafted in small lots is our main focus in delivering a unique product to our consumers. Cabernet Sauvignon is our flagship variety, but other premium varietals include Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Muscat Canelli, and Malvasia Bianca.

The Winemaker:

Making Premium wines has long been the passion of winemaker, Shannon O’Neill. Years of education and experimentation have culminated in the MOV wine collection now available. Shannon is able to focus on small lot artistry utilizing modern wine technology to maximize the potential of the vineyards.The winemaker’s hard work and craftsmanship has been noticed. MOV has been quickly recognized for red wines. We have won multiple Gold and Silver medals for each of vintages from prestigious North American wine competitions.


O’Neill Vineyards has been producing high quality grapes in the Paso Robles area since 1982. We have been a local supplier of grapes for many wineries in the area, as well as wineries in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake County. What started out as a 20 acre experiment in 1982, has now grown into 150 acres planted with nine varieties. O’Neill Vineyards has always been family owned and operated, dedicated to producing only the highest quality fruit for our wines and those who buy our fruit. Cabernet Sauvignon is why O’Neill Vineyards has become so well known, but we also currently grow Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Chardonnay, Muscat Canelli, and Malvasia Bianca.

The vineyard site consists of over 180 acres, with vines spread across several different soil types and microclimates. Although it has taken years of fine-tuning, many improvements have been made in the vineyard to maximize these different conditions. In 1997 we switched to a vertical shoot position trellis system, and employed canopy management techniques such as leaf, shoot, and cluster thinning to reduce yields and open up the canopy. Soil and water management has also become a top priority. Paso Robles area soils commonly need annual amendments and pH adjustments in order to maintain proper nutrient uptake and overall vine health. The result has been a dramatic increase in quality reflected in the wines from these grapes. There is also a five-acre experimental vineyard on the property, dedicated to varietal, rootstalk, and clonal experimentation. The grapes from these vines are used for small-scale winemaking experiments as well.

Technical Analysis:

Alcohol: 15%

Production: 170 Cases

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