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Overview of Yamhill-Carlton AVA Wine Region

Background

The Yamhill-Carlton AVA is a sub-category within the larger Willamette Valley AVA and is situated 40 miles (64 km) east of the Pacific Ocean and 35 miles (56 km) southwest of Portland. The Coast Range, Chehalem Mountains, and Dundee Hills all encircle the area on its western, northern, and eastern borders, respectively. These barriers offer shelter from severe weather, resulting in warmer temperatures and the earliest harvest dates in the Willamette Valley. The warmer mesoclimate results in ripe, texturally driven wine with profusion of spice and flowery notes layered over dark fruit flavors. Some of the best Pinot Noir vines in the world are located on the immaculately trimmed benchlands and hillsides of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA[1]. This region, which has historically been supported by farming and forestry, is quickly becoming a major producer of Pinot Noir.

Pioneers of the Oregon wine industry, seasoned winegrowers, and the friendliest locals call the Yamhill-Carlton AVA home. The area has established a reputation for cultivating and producing Oregon’s most prized Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Yamhill-Carlton’s winemakers are well regarded for being kind, approachable individuals in addition to producing excellent wine and being a beautiful place to come and live. I invite you to read this post and gain more knowledge if you haven’t been to the region yet and haven’t discovered your new favorite vineyard.

Carlton Wine Country
Carlton Wine Country | Source

Historic process of becoming an official AVA

The history of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA in Oregon’s Northern Willamette Valley extends beyond its mere formation in 2004. It’s more than just the low ridges that form a horseshoe-shaped border between the two towns of Yamhill and Carlton, the North Yamhill River that runs through the fertile farmland, the forestry that encloses it, the Coast Range’s rain shadow, or even the old marine soils.

The story started in 1995, when a growing group of winemakers, grape producers, and locals in the Northern Willamette Valley banded together to establish six sub-appellations of their own. The community of vintners came to the conclusion that each region’s notably varied soil material led to the production of distinctly different wines based on their experience farming and making wines in these nearby regions. Pinot Noir with a strawberry, cherry, and raspberry flavor character would be produced from volcanic soil, like that found in the Dundee Hills. They discovered darker fruits including cassis, blackberry, blueberry, and black cherry in Eola-Amity Hills, which also has volcanic soil. Anise, clove, tobacco, cedar, and freshly churned earth made up the distinctive, savory profile that arose from the Yamhill-Carlton old ocean bed with marine sediment[2]. These characteristics contributed to the establishment of the AVA in 2004.

The Yamhill-Carlton Winegrowers Association has grown to be a very active organization since the AVA was established. Four committees within the organization typically meet once a month. Additionally, they hold two annual gatherings where the complete membership (61 members) assembles for both educational sessions and socializing.

Discussion of soil types

Yamhill-Carlton AVA is the only place in Oregon with marine sedimentary silt-loam soils. The soils’ good drainage encourages early completion of vegetative growth as well as more thorough ripening and tannin development at lower acidity levels. As a result, the wine acquires nuanced flavors, rich red hues, and broad, silky tannins.

Climate

Rainfall in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA averages 42″ annually, mostly from October through May. For Pinot noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot gris, optimal growing degree days are around 2300 degrees. The coastal influence of the Van Duzer Corridor, which is tempered by hills to the south, provides evening cooling.

Key wineries in Yamhill-Carlton AVA

The following are among the best wineries in Yamhill-Carlton AVA

Atticus Wine

Atticus Wine
Atticus Wine | Source

Located in 20501 NW Russell Creek Rd, Yamhill, OR 97148, Atticus Wine is well-known for its Pinot Noir and Rose varietal production. Ximena and Guy’s initial trip to the Willamette Valley in 2004 led to the establishment of Atticus Wine. Their estate vineyard was started in 2005, and in 2007 they moved permanently to wine country. Atticus Wine was established in 2008 by Ximena and was named in honor of Atticus Finch from “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Ximena and Guy have been pursuing their passion of producing beautiful Pinot Noirs for more than a decade now[3]. Less than 1000 cases of their wines are produced each year, and they are praised for being refined and balanced. Schedule a tasting appointment for these exceptional boutique wines today.

Why chose Atticus Wine

The winery produces some of the best qualities of wine in the region, creating a wonderful experience for wine lovers. Also, co-owner and winemaker Ximena Orrego is responsible in offering private tastings in a welcoming, cozy setting. This makes your trip to this winery a genuinely unique opportunity.

Kramer Vineyards

The winery is located in 26830 NW Olson Rd. Gaston, OR 97116. It focuses in producing Sparkling wines, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Muller-Thurgau, Germine. Gruner Veltliner, Rose, and Riesling.

Kramer Vineyards
Kramer Vineyards | Source

From their Yamhill-Carlton AVA vineyard, Kramer Vineyards offers a strong selection of Sparkling wines in addition to traditional Oregon wines. A two-generation family enterprise, it offers exquisite wines of exceptional quality, great value, and diversity. The Kramer family has been cultivating grapes on their 22-acre estate vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA for more than 30 years. Owners Trudy and Keith Kramer now collaborate alongside their daughters, general manager Becky Kramer and winemaker Kim Kramer.

Why chose the Kramer Vineyards

The winery deals with a large variety of wines. For instance, the selection of sparkling wines from Kramer Vineyards features more than eight distinct varieties, honoring everything from Pinot noir to Müller-Thurgau and rosé.

Wines: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Carmine, Grüner Veltliner, Müller-Thurgau, Riesling, Rosé, Sparkling wines

Lenné Estate

Lenne Estate
Lenné Estate | Source

The winery’s address is 18760 NE Laughlin Rd, Yamhill, OR 97148.

Lenné Estate only concentrates on producing outstanding, memorable Oregon Pinot Noir wines. The 21-acre estate, which was planted with numerous different Pinot Noir clones to enable both single-clone and blended Pinot Noir bottling, serves as the source for all of the wines they produce. Steve Lutz, the winery’s founder and winemaker, may frequently be found there introducing visitors to the newest vintages and giving vineyard tours. There is plenty of space inside and outside the stunning tasting room to spread out and take in the wines and scenery.

Why chose Lenné Estate

Lenné was founded in 2000 and has been steadily building a vineyard that is a study in Pinot Noir. This is a fantastic location to learn more about Pinot Noir.

Soléna Estate

Solana Estate
Soléna Estate | Source

The name Soléna, which honors the sun, moon, and cycles of life, is a blend of the French and Spanish phrases Solana and Soleil. When the owners bought an 80-acre estate in May 2000, they started a wine label called Soléna after their daughter. With its site-specific wines, Soléna Estate beautifully displays the virtues of terroir. They are widely recognized for producing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Cabernet Sauvignon that age well and consistently. Raise a glass in honor of friends, family, and life by visiting the winery’s charming tasting room and vineyard in Yamhill.

Why chose Solena Estate

The wines in the Estate are considered classic, especially the Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Their tasting rooms are featured with beautiful artifacts, with a crafting fire to keep visitors warm during winter and rainy days.

Ghost Hill Cellars

Ghost Hill is a tiny, family-run vineyard that makes some of the best Pinot Noirs in the Willamette Valley[4]. It is situated in the suburbs not far from the wine town of Carlton. A visit to Ghost Hill Cellars is a singular experience because of the ghost narrative, the history of the family farm, and the exquisite Pinot Noirs. Visit their tasting room, get to know the Baylisses and the Bowers, and sample these exceptional Pinot Noirs while taking in the Bayliss Farm atmosphere.

Why visit the winery

Great tasting rooms and some of the best Pinot Noir wines from Willamette Valley makes the winery the best place to visit.

Saffron Fields Vineyard

Located in 18748 NE Laughlin Rd, Saffron Fields Vineyard is mainly known for the production of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Rosé. In their cutting-edge tasting facility, Saffron Fields Vineyard provides outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. You will find Saffron Fields Vineyard in the center of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, 28 miles southwest of Portland. Awarded winemaker Tony Rynders can create both single-clone Pinot Noir wines and Yamhill-Carlton estate blends thanks to the 35-acre vineyard’s diversity of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay clones. The sleek tasting facility offers stunning views of the valley and vineyards in the area, as well as an art gallery with pieces by some of the top contemporary painters in the world.

Saffron Fields Vineyard at night
Saffron Fields Vineyard | Source

Why visit the vineyard

Beautiful Japanese landscaping surrounds the tasting room, and when combined with the sophisticated wines, it creates an amazing visit to an Oregon vineyard.

Conclusion

Yamhill-Carlton AVA is a fantastic vacation spot for wine enthusiasts, as the article mentioned. Yamhill-Carlton AVA residents and their wines are “Down to Earth.” The soil and mother rock determine the quality of the wine. You may visit many wineries and wine cellars. The winegrowers are approachable and unassuming, while the winemakers are quietly confident as they practice their craft.

Yamhill-Carlton AVA Map
Yamhill-Carlton AVA Map | Source

Quick facts:

  • The AVA was approved in December 9, 2004
  • The decision became effective in February 7, 2005
  • There are a total of 52 wineries, 46 tasting rooms and 110 vineyards.
  • Total Area: 59,000 acres
  • Planted Area: 2,600 acres
  • Most common grape varieties include Pinot noir (80%), Chardonnay (6%), Pinot gris (5%)

This Day in History:

  • December 9th, 2004: On this day, the petition to create the AVA was approved.
  • February 7th, 2005: On this day, the decision became effective, officially recognizing the AVA.

Read More:

https://thisdayinwinehistory.com/willamette-valley-wine-avas/

References

[1] Vinbound, “About The Yamhill-Carlton AVA,” 2023, https://yamhillcarlton.org/about/

[2] Oregon Wine Board, “Yamhill-Carlton AVA: Willamette Valley,” https://www.oregonwine.org/regions/willamette-valley/yamhill-carlton-ava/#:~:text=Yamhill%2DCarlton%20was%20once%20known,commercial%20wine%20from%20the%20area.

[3] https://advinetures.ca/blog/atticus-wine-putting-roots/

Want to read more? Try these books!

Bursting Bubbles- A Secret History of Champagne and the Rise of the Great Growers Churchill- A Drinking Life- Champagne, Cognac, and Cocktails

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