Rounding out our Carlton Tastings

The day was fast getting away from us and it was the last tasting day we had in Oregon this trip – how to make the best of it in the hour before bottles were gassed and doors locked.  There is a building just off of Main Street that houses three wineries – not the Winemakers Studio, but a compact facility that must have been built for this purpose.  In the interest of expedience, this seemed like the best bet.

Troon Vineyard, their 'Insomnia Dessert Wine' - but Vermentino is their best known wine.
Troon Vineyard, their ‘Insomnia Dessert Wine’ – but Vermentino is their best known wine.

Troon Vineyard is the most southern of the suites where Meg poured for us.  Established in 1972 in Grant’s Pass – apparently we missed this winery on our early journey through Gold Hill and Grant’s Pass as well – it has a long history of growing grapes sustainably, being both L.I.V.E. and Salmon Safe certified.  There are a number of different varietals planted with more Zinfandel than most others due to the founder’s preference for this particular wine.  We enjoyed a 2013 Vermentino (this was the first vineyard to grow Vermentino in Oregon), a 2013 ‘Jeanie in the Bottle’ which tasted like a fruit salad, and a few reds.  In fact, after focusing so much on Pinot Noir for three days this was a treat, enough to make me savor each sip despite my awareness of the time.

Still basically in rush mode we made the short trek from one suite to the next, to Kramer Vineyards.  I hate to have customers come into the tasting room in a hurry, so I made a concerted effort to put all of my attention in the moment – it was very worth it!  Sarah, a nurse most of the week, was pouring for us.  She started us with a 2013 sparkling Rose’ of Pinot Noir called ‘Celebrate’.  There is also a Celebrate Pinot Gris and Muller-Thurgau, both sparkling; all terrific.  Still wines being poured were the 2012 Chardonnay, 2012 Muller-Thurgau and 2011 Barbera from the Horse Heaven Hills – a Washington AVA.  But the best part of this stop was meeting second generation winemaker Kim Kramer; her mother was the first winemaker in this 30 year venture.  We spent quite a bit of time discussing viticulture, wine making and her dedication to growing and distributing the sparkling wines produced by Kramer Vineyards, some of the most decorated Oregon sparkling wines.  Reading further on their website, it seems Kim’s mother Trudy began her wine making career much as I have begun my dabbling, with fruit and flowers. Excellent wines, excellent conversation – so much so, I forgot to take pictures!

Lachini Vineyards, Carlton, Oregon tasting room menu board.
Lachini Vineyards, Carlton, Oregon tasting room menu board.

We tentatively opened the Lachini Vineyards tasting room at the north end of the building where Aubrey graciously invited us to taste despite our last-minute appearance.  The owners are from the Sonoma Coast; the 45 acre vineyard in the Chehalum AVA focuses on Dijon, especially Pommard, Pinot Noir clones, Chardonnay clones and eight rows of Muscat Canelli.  We fairly flew through their 12 Pinot Gris, ’13 Rose’ and the few PN they had to offer with minimal notes.  One of the Pinot wines is sourced from the Sonoma Coast; it is a 1-2 day drive to transport the whole fruit to Newburg.  The wines were mildly smokey with some leather and nicely developed acid structure.  The web site gave me much more detail into the philosophy of the owners and their commitment to using biodynamic means to encourage sustainable growth in their vineyards.  They are L.I.V.E. certified and are working to have their organic certification – I am not sure if they are actually working toward the Demeter Biodynamic certification of their wine as well.  Finishing with Pinot Noir seemed appropriate.

We packed our purchases in the back seat and drove back to tour trailer.  After a short walk we ate dinner and cleaned up, preparing as much as possible for the morning’s move: stowing wine, removing extra packaging to the recycle bin, and gathering linens into the laundry basket.  Each of us has our chores and we are proficient at breaking camp quickly.  Being as mobile as we are, this is a necessity or we would spend most of our time pulling stakes up and down so to speak.  It was a fantastic journey through Oregon!  Our palates are prepared for further, more directed, tastings on our next trip south.  Thankfully, we live close enough to the state line that we imbibe in Oregon wines frequently, but from the east side of the state rather than the west where we vacationed.

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