January 30, 2017
2002 – The Inaugural Vintage
The Carlton Winemakers Studio found nine different producers using the state of the art facility for the first time. A joint project between Kirsten and Ned Lumpkin and Eric Hamacher and Luisa Ponzi, The Carlton Winemakers Studio was poised to make history from conception. Eric Hamacher had lobbied to allow multiple producers to use the same facility and won clearing the way for the Northwest’s first winery built specifically as an Alternating Proprietorship. The design and building of the Studio was also groundbreaking. Touted as the country’s first “Green Winery”, the partners had a vision for a winery that was in sync with its location and the environment. Built to LEED (Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design) certification standards, the Studio was groundbreaking. Meticulously thought out by Eric, it was designed to be a winemaker’s winery with all the bells and whistles on a winemaker’s wish list.
Some heavy-weight winemakers “broke in” the building, including Tony Soter, Lynn Penner-Ash, the late Bryce Bagnall, Andrew Rich, and our co-founder Eric Hamacher, making both Hamacher Wines and the small-production wines for Lazy River Vineyards.
Lynn Penner-Ash, Bryce Vineyard, and Dominio IV were launching their brands with their very first vintages in 2002. Aside from Bryce Vineyard, which suffered the loss of winemaker and co-founder Bryce Bagnall in 2006, all of these original wineries have thrived since that first vintage.
Thought of as an incubator for start-up wineries, the Studio has certainly served that purpose for many brands who have moved on and built their own wineries, but it also has been a long-time home for two brands—Andrew Rich Wines and Lazy River Vineyards—who have made their wines here for all fifteen years. Hamacher Wines, having been at the Studio for twelve years, moved their production to the original Ponzi Winery in Beaverton in the 2014 vintage to make room for a new set of vintners looking for a home for their wines.
Originally, The Carlton Winemakers Studio made wine under their own brand “CWS.” It was produced in small quantities consistently from 2002 until 2007, with one last vintage in 2010. This label was sold in the tasting room exclusively. The focus of the tasting room and wine club since then has been to promote the many wines and vintners that make wine side-by-side in this incredible place.
January 5, 2017
What is The Carlton Winemakers Studio?
The Carlton Winemakers Studio is a project conceived out of necessity and lofty goals.
Since its first harvest in 2002, The Studio has been home to an ever evolving list of small, boutique wineries looking for, and finding, a home in a state of the art, gravity flow winery. Each winery has the autonomy to make their mark on each individual vintage while surrounded by other winemakers also applying their own style and techniques.
The Carlton Winemakers Studio was the first alternating proprietor facility in the United States. It is not the more commonly found “custom crush facility,” where one winemaker is making several brands. Instead, each winery is completely independent of each other and is charged with providing their own winemaker, grapes and specific tools, such as barrels, that make their brand unique and special. The Studio simply provides the space, tanks and infrastructure to allow them to create their art.
Built in 2001 as the country’s first “Green Winery” in accordance with the U. S. Government’s Green Building Codes, and LEED specifications, the building is a testament to this industry’s commitment to sustainability. Daylighting, recycling of materials and reuse of infrastructure demonstrate the extent the owners of this facility have gone to gently make their mark on the beautiful site that houses this innovative shared winery.
The Studio’s tasting room and retail area allow you, the customer and “wine curious” to experience this wonderful assortment of high quality wines and varietals side by side. This allows you to truly evaluate the different grape growing regions, or AVAs, and styles these winemakers are bringing to each vintage.
We hope that you will enjoy this historic and innovative winery and hopefully leave with a greater understanding of this incredible place called The Willamette Valley.
Willamette Valley Winemaking, the Communal Way
Old World tradition meets New World spirit at Oregon’s cooperative wineries.
(Carlton Winemakers Studio by NashCO)
In France’s winemaking regions, nearly every village has a winery cooperative. The local co-op is a place where the whole community drops in to fill their carafes.
Some Oregon winemakers have borrowed from Old World traditions to form their own cooperatives. But here, some of the more interesting, sought-after and often experimental wines are being produced in what one winemaker refers to as “commune wineries.”
The roots of a shared winery — in which small, individually licensed producers crush, age and bottle their wines using the same equipment and facilities — were first planted in the U.S. in Oregon, with the opening of the Carlton Winemakers Studio in 2002.
Founded by Eric Hamacher, his wife, Luisa Ponzi, and vineyard owners Ned and Kirsten Lumpkin, this studio concept was pioneered out of a desire to provide state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to boutique winemakers, including Hamacher. The innovative model gave other incipient producers the opportunity to make small lots of wine without hefty initial capital required to outfit a winery of their own.
Over the years, the Carlton Winemakers Studio has become one of the Willamette Valley’s most beloved stops for oenophiles touring Oregon wine country. Acclaimed winemaker Andrew Rich, there since the beginning, is one of the success stories. From its early days as an incubator for up-and-comers such as Rich, Carlton has grown to include nationally renowned winemakers Isabelle Meunier and Ehren Jordan, who value the camaraderie of a communal setting.
Take a 30-minute drive through undulating land and you’ll find another treasure trove of small, independent vintners at August Cellars. The namesake winery and eight “tenant wineries” operate out of the facility, including many of the state’s most revered, such as Crowley, Ovum and Idealist. From spring to fall, the tasting room offers a flight of the tenants’ current vintages.
In sharing facilities, these wineries give upstarts the chance to enter the market small, with more attention paid to quality and craft and less to reaching prohibitive bottom lines. This model makes it financially viable to hone their own winemaking styles independently, while growing and learning alongside likeminded peers.
This was the case for winemaker Brianne Day. In 2015, she opened her playfully named Day Camp on Highway 99 outside the town of Dundee, sheltering 10 budding brands, including her own Day Wines. Lacking in capital and in some cases extensive experience, but with no shortage of ambition or enthusiasm, many of the winemakers who operate out of Day Camp enjoy the focus on experimentation.
“Since we are all new and trying new things, I like that we have a collaborative winery think tank,” Day says. Winemakers here are taking a less traditional route for the region, working with grapes such as Primitivo, Malvasia and Muscat, employing winemaking techniques such as whole-cluster carbonic maceration and producing fashionable pétillant-naturel (natural sparkling) and skin-contact orange wines. Stop at the new tasting room (opening in January 2017) to sample a rotating selection of these innovative wines.
A similar situation is happening in the heart of Portland at the Southeast Wine Collective, where Willamette Valley vintners crush grapes from nearby vineyards. This dynamic, shared-space, urban winery cum wine bar was founded in 2012. Surrounded by restaurants and shops on popular Division Street, about 60 percent of the space is occupied by founding winery Division Winemaking Company, while nine other brands share the rest.
Co-owner Tom Monroe explains that his motivator is creating community. “Being a part of a vibrant neighborhood, within a thriving city, the goal has been to bring together local folks who want to share in the experience of making wine and in turn share those wines with the community.”
He also finds reward in helping the other winemakers, providing a sounding board throughout the process, and also pouring their wines in the onsite wine bar.
One such winemaker is Corey Schuster. His Jackalope Wine Cellars launched in the first vintage of the Southeast Wine Collective, and then moved to Day Camp in 2015 as his company grew and demanded more space. “I didn’t feel like I knew enough to be on my own in a space, and loved the idea of having other winemakers around to observe and learn from. The other benefit was the chance to be on the wine list in the bar, which really helped me to gain exposure.”
You see this comradeship even as wineries expand operations and occupy their own spaces. Today it’s not uncommon for more established wineries to foster smaller, upstart winemakers by sharing knowledge, renting crushing facilities and even pouring other wines in their tasting room. You see this throughout valley, from Oregon Wine LAB in Eugene to Brittan Vineyards in McMinnville, where the winemaking team crushes grapes for a number of labels: Fairsing, Youngberg Hill and de Lancellotti.
These sentiments hark back to the spirit of community among winemakers since the early days of the state’s industry, and blend it with Oregonians’ appreciation for high-quality, craft-made products. The variety in styles produced at these shared wineries gives visitors a chance to try a broad range of wines in one place. And since there are many resident winemakers roaming about, chances of rubbing elbows with one of them in the tasting room is an added bonus.
September 1, 2016
Headed by our fearless leader, Cellar Master Jeff Katz, we are proud to present the cast of characters that make up our 2016 Harvest Intern program at The Carlton Winemakers Studio.
It is precisely the possibility of achieving your dreams that makes life interesting
Casey is returning to the Studio for his 6th harvest. Casey worked last vintage with Kelly Kidneigh at the Studio and has been a semi-regular fixture in the cellar throughout the year. He started out as a home brewer in Bend, Oregon and eventually became interested in agriculture and sustainability. In his heart he wanted to be a farmer but his background in fermentation science led him in the direction of winemaking and viticulture.
He interned in Sonoma, California at Roth Estate, a winery which produces Bordeaux-style wines from Alexander Valley and cool-climate wines from the Sonoma Coast. He also did a vintage in Central Otago, NZ at the famed Mt. Edwards Winery, an historic winery founded by Alan Brady—a pioneer in New Zealand Pinot noir—and now headed by Duncan Forsythe. A stint in Victoria, Australia at Lethbridge Wines rounded out his international practical training.
Casey is actively working toward his own dream of propelling his brand Cascadia Wine Collective, a project started in the 2015 vintage with his 3 friends. Cascadia Wine Collective is a concept brand where the group makes two different wines each vintage utilizing fruit from all of Cascadia which includes Washington, Oregon, Northern California and Idaho. In 2015, CWC crafted a Riesling and Pinot noir, 2016 harvest plans are for a Washington Malbec and an Oregon Gouge clone of Pinot blanc from Eola-Amity. Using interesting and variable varietal choices, Cascadia hopes to hone their style without limiting themselves to the Willamette Valley. Casey dreams of an “off grid” sustainable food-production farm based around a vineyard utilizing his experience as a certified permaculture designer. It seems he is getting ever closer to achieving his dreams and keeping things interesting.
The Journey is the destination
Hawks Bay, NZ
Jadmika is coming to the Studio to do his 9th harvest. This Kiwi began his journey as a child on a trip to Europe with his family. He became interested in wine and the science of winemaking. Although his parents didn’t drink and questioned his obsession, he started in the wine industry at 17 years old.
He spent several years in Hawks Bay, NZ working for Pask Winery. One of the most established wineries on the East coast of the North Island since 1985, Pask specializes in Bordeaux-style wines and has been instrumental in establishing the famed Gimblett Gravels district in Hawks Bay. From there he spent time at Kunde Family Winery in Sonoma, a 100% Estate-grown, 5 generation winery with a heavy emphasis on terroir and history. Again, at Kunde, he helped to craft Bordeaux-style wines with a sense of place.
Jadmika came to Oregon to learn about Pinot noir. He has always had a love and interest in meeting new people and travel but kept coming back to his love of winemaking and his curiosity specifically with wines during post maceration.
“Jad” is here to learn but also coax his dreams of one day having his own brand. The journey is as important as the destination, perhaps the journey is the destination for Jadmika.
Finding a sense of Place
Ben is a seasoned intern at the Studio. 2016 will mark his 8th Harvest. After several other forays into various aspects of the wine business, Ben has travelled a bit to reach a better understanding of winemaking and the many nuances of the craft. It is travel, after all, that attracted him to the wine business in the first place.
Harvests in Marlborough, New Zealand at Spy Valley Winery and Weingut Rudolph Furst in Burgstadt in central Germany (where he cut his chops on Pinot noir and produced, by Ben’s estimations, the best Pinot he’s ever produced) created a passion for wine production and an understanding of fermentation that he will never forget. A stint at Brown Brothers in Milawa, Australia allowed him to span his understanding to a multitude of varietals and helped him understand the scope of the wine business.
In 2014, he served as an intern for Andrew Rich here at the Studio, where he carried that knowledge forward and onward toward his own dreams. He worked the 2015 harvest at Scott Paul Winery in Carlton.
Ben has now set his sights on a future in the Cider business. After harvest, Ben plans to move to Portland with his love and is eying a shift toward Cider. We, of course, wish him the best in his new endeavors.
Not all who wander are lost
Grosse Pointe, MI
Christina is working her very first vintage this fall. A former yoga instructor in Orange County, California, she became disillusioned with the commercialized scene and tapped into her inner traveler. Spending time in various and numerous locations, it was a chance encounter in Baja, Mexico that lead her to the Willamette Valley.
She has a masters degree in Sustainable Development Studies that she received in Perth Australia. It was in part because of this that she found herself here in the Willamette Valley. Christina was curious about the sustainability of the wine industry in Oregon and was happily surprised to find a need for interns in that very industry.
She is a rock that gathers no moss. Her plans are set for her travels after harvest. She will spend time back in Orange County with her sister for the holidays, a brief stint in Florida and then Hawaii, but then her next big adventure in India begins at an Orphanage which is self-sustaining. Christina is very interested in this model and hopes to absorb the intricate functionalities for future use in her life path to support socially and environmentally conscious utilization of resources.
Christina’s journeys are epic and varied. Her skills entail the highly scientific to the spiritual. She has an understanding of the physical and the philosophical and this is why she will add so much to our intern winemaking program at The Carlton Winemakers Studio. Not all who wander are lost.
The best way to predict the future is to create it.
Meeting our Cellar Master, Jeff Katz, last year got Steve thinking about a career change. Growing up in Bozeman Montana, Steve already had a career in the wine industry working for a wine distributor—Cardinal Distributing—where he sold wines from all over the world. It was working with an Oregon Pinot noir producer, Anne Amie that piqued his curiosity with the Willamette Valley and its focus on the thin-skinned grape which ultimately nudged him to make a move from his beautiful mountain home town.
Steve’s interest and passion for wine started when he got his first level Sommelier certification while working for Emerson Grille, an upscale wine-focused restaurant in Bozeman. Steve took his excitement and turned it into initiative. It’s this kind of ambition that is propelling Steve closer to his vision.
Working his first vintage ever in the wine industry, Steve has set his sights on a dream of planting and farming a vineyard in Las Cruces, New Mexico. As he starts the hard work of harvest, we can’t help but admire the effort and dedication he shows toward his future. Steve is not only dreaming of his future, he is creating it. His enthusiasm and hard work will make him a fantastic intern at the Studio.
The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing
2016 will be Chase’s 6th Vintage in the wine business. Having a couple of harvests in Australia, a stint at Vinify, a custom crush facility in Santa Rosa, California and an internship at Dobbs Family Estates in Dundee, Oregon under his belt, Chase is excited to be working with Andrew Rich Wines this harvest at the Carlton Winemakers Studio.
Part of the Cascadia Wine Collective, a group of friends from Bend who are creating a wine brand by the same name, Chase is focused on expanding and nurturing his project with an emphasis on growing his own grapes sometime in the future. The Studio welcomes Chase and his ambition as well as his knowledge and work ethic.
A life in motion
Lucky for the Carlton Winemakers Studio, Merek loves Pinot noir. It’s why she is in Oregon and we are thrilled to have her and her passion this harvest as she interns for Isabelle Meunier of Lavinea Wines.
Merek brings a degree in Eonology from UC Davis and has shifted her practical work experience thus far between the lab and the cellar. This will be Merek’s 9th Harvest and second in Oregon, having worked last year on the premiere vintage at Domaine Roy et fils in Dundee. Merek enjoyed the challenge of being a part of the very beginning of a project and helping to create systems for an operating winery.
But that is not the beginning of her journey at all. After UC Davis, Merek did her very first vintage in Napa at Artesa Winery, an impressive and beautiful winery and vineyard at the heart of California wine country. Vintages in Australia, Germany and Chile led to an amazing experience in South Africa with Stellar Organic making almost every varietal one could imagine.
Merek dreams of making her own wine one day and we can’t wait to see that happen. Until then, she will be moving to Germany after harvest to get her masters degree in Organic Agriculture in Stuttgart at Hohenheim.
Like a rocket, Merek is rising to the stars and we couldn’t be happier to enjoy her work with The Studio this 2016 vintage.
The Studio is the focus of a recent article about collaboration by Mark Stock in Imbibe Magazine. As Mark describes, collaboration is one of the most attractive aspects of working at the Studio. Regardless of the industry, it seems that “talking shop” is one of the best parts of the work day.
To read the article, click here.
October 28, 2015
The 2015 vintage in the Willamette Valley was an especially fruitful harvest. The growing season began with warm weather conditions in the winter than continued through spring and summer. Light scattered showers in late August and a return to more normal weather patterns in September made for “concentrated balanced fruit throughout the state.” Here at The Carlton Winemakers Studio, many are comparing it to the lovely 2012 vintage.
The vintage started with budbreak in late March to early April, two to three weeks early versus our average. The trend continued with nearly ideal conditions in the spring for bloom and fruit set, yielding a plentiful crop of above average weight clusters. Many growers made the decision to slow ripening by hanging extra fruit.
The harvest started in late August, making 2015 harvest one of the earliest on record. Andrew Rich was first to fermenter with fruit from Washington State. Utopia, Asilda, Lazy River, Elton, and Lavinea trickled in the door until an unusually warm weekend in the middle of the month kick-started the harvest hustle in the valley.
Mad Violets, Andrew Rich Wines, Bachelder, and Megan Anne rounded out the middle with grapes from various vineyards as they ripened. Our Eola-Amity wineries, Dukes Family Vineyard and Wahle Holmes Hill Vineyard typically are the last to bring fruit to the crush pad, but Mark Wahle was especially late, closing the doors on October 9th.
While some sites did experience sunburned grapes, there were minimal signs of disease, no showings of pest or bird effects according to Oregon Wine Board. Overall, wines from 2015 vintage at the Studio are generally more approachable than the 2014s with lovely balance, surprisingly lower alcohols (considering the heat of the growing season) and rich textures. We are pretty excited about these wines.
September 30, 2015
Vinbound Marketing took these shots via drone over nearby Merriman Vineyard. This vineyard is located just to the west of the Carlton Winemakers Studio. Read more about the vineyard and Merriman wines here.
We are thrilled to have been mentioned in a recent New York Times article titled “On This Oregon Trail, Pioneers Embrace Organic Wine”. Here’s an excerpt from the article, with link to full artile at the bottom.
“…Innovators include a winery and tasting room called the Carlton Winemakers Studio. It is the country’s first green-built cooperative winery, using natural light, recycled materials and as little electricity as possible, among other improvements. Ten independent small-batch wineries can share space at one time, and the studio has acted as an incubator for young, talented winemakers without a home. About 20 winemakers have come through since the studio opened in 2002.
And like many wineries along this laid-back and friendly wine trail, it’s also the kind of intimate place where you can run into your favorite winemaker while sampling flights. On a recent visit, my friend Sarah and I watched as the tasting room manager introduced two Portland fans of the winemaker Andrew Rich to the man himself, who happened to be the guest winemaker on duty.
“Everyone’s wines are featured on a rotating basis here in the tasting room,” said Mr. Rich, who poured a pinot noir flight that included creations by several different winemakers. We tasted Mr. Rich’s own flagship blend, the Andrew Rich Vintner 2006 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, an earthy, berry-rich wine.
“Pinot noir is the dominant grape of the Willamette Valley — it’s challenging and difficult, but rewarding to make wine from it,” he said. “What you get is subtle, but with a very big range.”
Carlton Winemakers Studio has also begun a program of wine education classes taught by in-house vintners; topics range from subappellations of the Willamette Valley to sustainability in the vineyard.
Of course, no one drinks green wines just because they’re green — they have to taste good, too. It’s notable that many of the area’s new breed of winemakers are respected longtime players in the industry. Robert Brittan of Brittan Vineyards was the winemaker and estate manager at Stags’ Leap Winery in Napa for 16 years; Eric Hamacher, a founder of Carlton Winemakers Studio, has produced wines for Robert Mondavi and others…”