Eric Hamacher was born in and raised around Carmel California. His youthful work in the restaurants of the area introduced him to great wine, specifically Burgundy. Although Hamacher never intended to enter the winemaking business, he was drawn from studies in biochemistry to wine chemistry (enology). By the time he graduated from UC Davis in 1988, he already had worked four harvests and the die had been cast. It was clear that Pinot Noir would be his passion and Oregon was the Promised Land! He moved north and opened Hamacher Wines in 1995 with a focus on making elegant wines.
He worked as a “winemaking gypsy” of sorts moving production from facility to facility; that life came to an end in 2002, with the opening of a high quality, “incubator styled” multiple producer, winemaking facility called The Carlton Winemakers Studio.
He and Luisa live on a forty acre farm with their four kids and an ever increasing menagerie of farm animals.
Luisa Ponzi graduated from Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, with a Bachelor of Science with an emphasis in Biology in 1990. Following her undergraduate studies, Luisa moved to Beaune, France, where she continued her education. As part of the required curriculum, Luisa apprenticed with Burgundian producer, M. Christophe Roumier of Domaine Roumier of Chambolle Musigny, France and Italian producer Luca Currado of Vietti in Piedmonte, Italy. In 1993, Luisa was awarded the degree Brevet Professional D’Oenologie et Viticulture.
In addition to her formal studies of enology and viticulture, Luisa has traveled extensively throughout other prominent wine regions including Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and the United States. Since 1986, she has participated in all the International Pinot Noir Celebrations in McMinnville, Oregon and has attended all of the accompanying Steamboat Technical Pinot Noir Conferences.
The majority of Luisa’s winemaking experience is drawn from her life long work with her father, Dick Ponzi, at their Willamette Valley vineyards and winery. She blends her formal European education of enology and viticulture with the wine expertise of her world class winemaker father.
Ned and Kirsten Lumpkin had planted 33 acres of grapes. What do to with them? Eric Hamacher wanted his own winery. Ned was a contractor with considerable experience, who needed a winemaker. The result … a partnership between the Lumpkins, Eric Hamacher and his wife Luisa Ponzi. The four envisioned a pioneering project, The Carlton Winemakers Studio, a sustainable facility built to accommodate the needs of boutique winemakers.
Lazy River Vineyard has developed into an esteemed Willamette Valley vineyard, producing beautiful fruit worth coveting. Their wines are produced and sold at the studio.
Originally from Corpus Christi, Texas, Anthony received a Physics degree from Grinnell College in Iowa followed by a short-lived career editing high-school science textbooks and a stint as a freelance wine writer. Eventually deciding to focus on wine, he attended University of California-Davis and received a Masters in Viticulture and Enology. Since then, Anthony has held positions as winemaker at Acacia Winery in the Napa Valley and Lemelson Vineyards in the Willamette Valley. He left his position at Lemelson in December 2014 for the opportunity to work alongside the inconceivably fantastic gathering of great winemakers at the Carlton Winemakers Studio. Anthony, his wife Kara, and their two children live in McMinnville, Oregon.
Whitney’s love of wine began as a Rotary exchange student in Germany. Her first introduction to wine was from her host family’s extensive wine library, introducing her to wines from literally all over the world. Whitney spent time in Peru working as the activities director at a girl’s orphanage and then graduated from Regent University with a bachelor’s degree in International Business. Searching for her passion, often while sampling a new flavor of Pinot noir, Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon, she discovered she had been savoring her passion all these years. It was at The Four Graces Vineyard that Whitney learned how exhilarating and intellectually compelling wine and the wine industry truly are and began actively studying and gaining knowledge regarding wines from not only areas within the Pacific Northwest but globally as well. Whitney is thrilled to be working alongside the incredible winemakers and staff here at the Studio, and with her love of people, community, and the planning of events, she is excited to contribute her energy and positive attitude here at Carlton Winemaker’s Studio.
Laurie, a 2015 addition to our team, brings her accounting and office management skills along with her outgoing personality and a willingness to help in any way she can. She attributes that enthusiasm to the fact that she works in a winery that produces some of the most amazing wines in the Willamette Valley. “It’s truly like working in a candy store…only so much better!”
While she does truly have a passion for wine, her family and three dogs always come first. An advocate for rescues, she is proud to have given a warm and loving home to dogs that were not living in the best conditions. When she is not working, Laurie enjoys sharing food, wine, craft beer, and good laughs with her friends and family.
Jeff’s devoted passion for wine stems from his love of the culinary arts. A graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Jeff found himself immersed in the culinary world in Aspen, Colorado preparing foods for such esteemed guests as the Forbes family, Will Smith and Robert DeNiro. His first introduction to production and the wine industry happened in Los Gatos, California at the old Mirassou Champagne Cellars in the Santa Cruz Mountains. After a stint as the General Manager at a resort in Belize he focused in on the Pacific Northwest where his passion for wine and especially Pinot noir grew. Making contacts in the Washington and Oregon wine industries through his time at the Hyatt, Jeff finally made the leap permanently when he showed up in Oregon with his golden retriever, Pinot, and begged Robert Brittan for a job. The rest is as they say history and now Jeff resides with us here at the Studio where his ready smile greets everyone he meets.
Graduating from Washington State University (Go Cougs!) with a Wine Business degree, Megan headed straight for a specialty wine shop in the San Juan Islands. There she learned to appreciate different kinds of wine from all over the world and fall a little in love with rosé.
After almost two years in the islands, she got the itch for winemaking and made the switch from wine sales to wine production. Her inaugural harvest was on Red Mountain at Hightower Cellars with the dynamic winemaking duo, Tim and Kelly Hightower. The obvious next stop was New Zealand for this travel ready and wine hungry gal, closely followed by the Willamette Valley. Here she worked the 2016 vintage with the Brittan Vineyards and Winderlea crew.
This mix of wine experiences led her to the winemaking and hospitality position with the Studio where she is excited to work with and learn from the exceptional winemakers that come together in this unique space. If she’s not pouring in the tasting room or cleaning tanks in the cellar, you can probably find her bowling in McMinnville most Tuesdays or at the Bitter Monk with her newfound Valley family