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Ken Wright: One Of Willamette Valley’s Best Winemakers

Wine Yars In Willamette Valley

Ken Wright: Winemaker

Ken Wright is a renowned winemaker in Willamette Valley, Oregon, who has made significant contributions to the state’s wine industry. He has dedicated his life to making high-quality wines that express the unique terroir of the region. Wright’s passion for winemaking and his unwavering commitment to excellence have earned him numerous accolades and a loyal following of wine enthusiasts.

Early Life and Career of Ken Wright

Ken Wright was born in 1951 in California, and grew up in San Francisco. He developed an early interest in wine, and as a teenager he spent time working at a local wine shop. In 1976, Wright moved to Oregon to work as a cellar master at a winery in Eugene. He quickly fell in love with the state’s wine industry and decided to start his own winery.

Did you know? In 1986, Wright founded Panther Creek Cellars, which became one of the most respected wineries in the Willamette Valley. In fact, Wright’s winemaking style was focused on producing small-lot, vineyard-designated wines that showcased the unique characteristics of each site.

Founding Ken Wright Cellars

In 1994, Wright sold Panther Creek Cellars and founded his eponymous winery, Ken Wright Cellars. Wright’s goal was to create a winery that focused solely on vineyard-designated Pinot Noir. He also believed that by highlighting the distinct characteristics of each vineyard, he could create wines that were both expressive and unique.

Pinot Noir from Ken Wright Cellar
Exquisite Ken Wright Cellars wine: Crafted with care, savored with delight.

Wright’s first vintage was in 1994, and included wines from five different vineyards. Over the years, Wright has added new vineyards to his portfolio, and he now produces wines from more than a dozen different sites. Wright’s commitment to vineyard-designated wines has helped elevate the reputation of the Willamette Valley as a premier wine-growing region.

Winemaking Philosophy

Wright’s winemaking philosophy is rooted in a deep respect for the land and a belief that great wine is made in the vineyard. He works closely with each of his growers to ensure that the grapes are grown in a way that maximizes their potential.

Once the grapes are harvested, Wright uses a minimalist approach to winemaking. He believes that the wine should reflect the characteristics of the grapes and the site where they were grown. Wright uses native yeast fermentations and a minimal intervention approach in the winery, allowing the wine to develop naturally.

Accolades and Legacy

Ken Wright Cellars has received numerous accolades over the years, including being named one of the “World’s Top Pinot Noir Producers” by Wine Spectator magazine. Moreover, Wright has also been honored with the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional Award. It recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the wine and spirits industry.

Wright’s legacy extends beyond his own winery. He has played an instrumental role in the development of the Oregon wine industry and has mentored many of the region’s most successful winemakers. Wright’s commitment to producing high-quality, vineyard-designated wines has helped establish the Willamette Valley as one of the world’s premier wine regions.

Want to read more on living with wine? Try these books!

Living with Wine- Passionate Collectors, Sophisticated Cellars, and Other Rooms for Entertaining, Enjoying, and ImbibingHow To Build A Wine Cellar- Easy Tips For Building A Wine Cellar


“Ken Wright Cellars.” n.d. Accessed June 4, 2023.

“Our History.” n.d. Ken Wright Cellars. Accessed June 4, 2023.

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