Yamhill-Carlton a special place for Oregon Pinot Noir

By on September 7, 2014
Carlton, Ore., is in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA.

The old train station in Carlton, Ore., is now the tasting room for Ken Wright Cellars. It is in the heart of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

Among the six small sub-appellations of the northern Willamette Valley, one of the most fascinating is Yamhill-Carlton.

Based west of the Dundee Hills, Ribbon Ridge and Chehalem Mountains American Viticultural Areas, Yamhill-Carlton is horseshoe-shaped appellation that essentially surrounds the towns of Carlton and Yamhill. This is because the AVA is based on elevation – to be in the appellation, a vineyard must be planted between 200 and 1,000 feet above sea level. This makes it the most unusually shaped AVA in Oregon.

Some of Oregon’s finest wine producers are in Yamhill-Carlton, including Ken Wright Cellars, Elk Cove Vineyards, Belle Pente Winery, Shea Vineyard and WillaKenzie.

The wines that come from grapes grown in Yamhill-Carlton are distinctive. They tend to be dark, earthy and brooding – entirely different than those from the Dundee Hills just a few miles away.

At the heart of the appellation (yet not in it) is the town of Carlton, which has developed into the wine capital of Oregon, thanks to a number of tasting rooms, along with a handful of great restaurants and quaint shops. All of this is set in a town that is quintessential Americana. And it’s off the beaten path, far away from the hustle and traffic of Highway 99W.

Yamhill-Carlton is just 45 minutes from Portland, yet it feels like a world away, thanks to the slower pace, beautiful country roads and great wines. Here are a few examples of Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir we’ve tasted recently.

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About Great Northwest Wine

Articles authored by Great Northwest Wine are co-authored by Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue. In most cases, these are wine reviews that are judged blind by the Great Northwest Wine tasting panel.

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