Our team

  • Eric Hamacher

    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

    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 & Kirsten Lumpkin

    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.

Anthony King
  • Anthony KingGeneral Manager

    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 Govert
  • Whitney GovertDirector of Hospitality and Wine Clubs

    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.

  • Mel LiebeckProduction Winemaker

    Cheeky, manky, bits, and bangs. These are not words that describe Mel, but words that you might periodically hear in Mel’s continued attempt to indoctrinate everyone around her into a pattern of colorful Aussie lingo.

    Mel is funny and combines that humor with a dead-serious intellectual approach to systems and organization to improve the world around her. Given her experience in the wine industry, her world is broader than most.

    After receiving a Bachelors of Agricultural Sciences with an emphasis on Oenology from the University of Adelaide in 2007, Mel began a series of short to medium-term positions across the world. In eleven years, she has worked twenty-three harvests spanning eight wine regions in four countries. Not including the Studio, she has worked for twelve wineries, returning annually to some (like Adelsheim – six harvests!) and working only one harvest at others.

    Given that experience, her fondness for systems, learning, and lingo-filled banter, Mel is perfect for her position and the Studio and tenant winemakers couldn’t be happier to have her with us.

Debbie Strauss
  • Debbie StraussOffice Manager & Bookkeeper

    An Alaskan native, Debbie has spent the last twenty years making businesses all over the Northwest work smoothly. From her family’s outboard shop to an aviation outfit and even a multi-national interiors company, Debbie has broad experience and really enjoys learning the ins and outs of different businesses.

    In 2017, she got a call from the Studio¹s previous Office Manager, saying that the position was opening up. It was the perfect next step. Debbie¹s Studio experience has been fantastic so far. Surrounded by wine lovers, she has begun her deep dive into wine and is loving every minute. And for those around her, the experience has been even better as her infectious good spirits and thoughtfulness make the Studio an even better place to work and make wine.

Nick George CWS
  • Nick GeorgeTasting Room Manager

    Born and raised in hospitality, Nick has followed his father’s footsteps towards making it his career. Traveling around the states, working in many different environments, from fishing resorts in Alaska to a high end steakhouse in Crested Butte, Colorado, Nick’s variety of experiences give him a unique perspective to offer the Studio and its guests.  In order to specialize in the beverage and hospitality industry, Nick graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in Business and Hospitality and he has worked harvest for multiple well known vineyards here in the Willamette Valley in order to gain hands-on experience in the wine world. With his breadth of experience and well-rounded palate, Nick is the perfect fit to lead the tasting room at the Studio.