Established in Oregon in 2004, the Yamhill-Carlton District American Viticultural Area (AVA) produces some of the best Pinot Noir wines in the world. Located in the northern region of the Willamette Valley AVA (it is actually a sub-appellation of this AVA), the 3 million acres that make up the Yamhill-Carlton District are 35 miles from Portland, Oregon and 40 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. If you are looking for plummy Pinot Noirs with deep rich colors and higher tannins, look no further than the wineries and vineyards of this Oregon AVA. Over 60 vineyards, 30 wineries and 1,500 acres of grapes contribute to the making of some very fine wines.
History. The first vineyards to produce commercial wines in the Yamhill-Carlton District were planted in 1974. Officially established in 2005, this Oregon AVA is one of the country’s best producers of cool-climate varietals. As it name implies, this wine region includes the hamlets of Yamhill and Carlton.
Climate and Soil. The Coast Range Mountains provide shelter from the rains of the Pacific Ocean at crucial times during the grape growing season. The Yamhill-Carlton District is also protected by the Chehalem Mountains and Dundee Hills. The soil has marine sediment with good drainage that contributes to the early ripening of the grapes.
Wines. The Yamhill-Carlton District AVA produces primarily Oregon Pinot Noir wines, with a few Pinot Gris and Chardonnay wines thrown in as well.
Wineries and Vineyards. Below are some of the best vineyards and wineries in the Yamhill-Carlton District. They produce Oregon Pinot Noir wines with deep ruby colors and silky tannins, mainly due to the soil and climate of this AVA. You’ll find them to be very complex (and tasty).
Carlton Cellars. This winery opened its own facilities and tasting room in 2007. Their vineyard, Russell-Grooters, was planted in 2003 on the Savannah Ridge of the Yamhill-Carlton District AVA. Sample their Roads End Pinot Noir 2008, which has outstanding red and black fruit aromas, and flavors of black cherries and chocolate. Also try their Cape Lookout 2008 Pinot Noir, which has aromas of blackberries and herbs. Its flavors include blueberry and cassis, among others. For more information or to purchase the wines of this Oregon winery, click here.
Belle Pente Wine Cellars. Established in 1996, this Oregon winery produces 5,000 cases of wine each year, two-thirds of which is Pinot Noir. They practice both organic and biodynamie viticulture. Try their 2007 Willamette Valley Pinot Gris, a richer version of this white wine with lots of crisp fresh fruit. Their 2007 Yamhill-Carlton District Pinot Noir is a very fresh red wine, with raspberry and blackberry aromas and flavors that include vanilla and cherry. For more information on this Oregon winery and to purchase wines, click here.
Stag Hollow Vineyards. This small estate produces very intense wines from their own grapes as well as those purchased from Yamhill Vineyards and other Oregon vineyards. Sample the 2007 Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton District, with aromas of raspberry and flavors of dark cherry and cinnamon. The 2006 Stag Hallow Reserve Pinot Noir is an amazing red wine, with cassis and cinnamon aromas and flavors of dark cherry and ginger. For more information on these vineyards and their Oregon wines, click here.