Ken Wright Tasting Room, Carlton, OR

We had lunch at The Horse Radish, a cute restaurant on West Main Street (the street isn’t long enough to worry about directions).  Nourished and relaxed, we began our walk going east on Main St.  Within a block we were at the old Carlton train depot, totally renovated and charming in its new life as the tasting room for Ken Wright Cellars.  This was another of the wineries that came very highly recommended as we had meandered through Oregon.

Inside we were to experience the most helpful education about Oregon Pinot Noir!  Unfortunately our very helpful tutor’s name didn’t make it onto my tasting notes, which is more the pity as she deserves much credit for our embracing the grape more completely.  Thank you, should you eventually read this!

Four glasses with an ounce of 2007 Pinot Noir each from four different vineyards were poured.  She took us through each wine discussing the soil structure, the climate relative to location: marine influence (remember the Van Druze from an earlier post?) vs. none, elevation and aspect.  As we tasted the spice and dark fruit leather in the Freedom Hill PN of the Eola-Amity AVA, the brighter red fruit and smooth but acidic finish of the Savoya PN, onto the earth Meredith Mitchell PN, these middle two from the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, and the Canary Hill PN with its moderate nose and palate back into the Eola-Amity AVA.  Two were volcanic based soils and two were sedimentary based, one of each in the two AVA’s mentioned.  To have this opportunity was incredible!  Clones are very prominently discussed, soils and climates are explained, but until this experience it wasn’t clicking how each part of the puzzle fit together with this grape.  There is no problem understanding terroir, clone differences, and wine making practices in the general sense, but to have the ability to see them all in action in a grape we were struggling to grasp was fabulous.  Our biggest regret of the trip is not having the storage at home for the half case of Ken Wright Wine we would have had to purchase while there.

My partner-in-wine appreciated different wines than I did here, but we were both intrigued with the clarity that came with this lesson.  On a return trip through Carlton we will return to have a go at more of their wines and bring home some of these highly regarded, well decorated wines.

5 thoughts on “Ken Wright Tasting Room, Carlton, OR

  1. YAY! I’m so glad you made it to Ken Wright – and I’m glad that you enjoyed it! Did they have a blended Pinot this year? – they don’t always do one; just when they have enough grapes. I am always so amazed at how different each of the vineyards’ Pinots are.


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