Are you a wine enthusiast eager to support local wineries? Whether you're a seasoned connoisseur or new to the world of wine, embarking on an adventure to explore the best wineries in your neighborhood is a delightful journey. Local wineries are cropping up in unexpected places, offering unique wines that showcase the distinct flavors of your region. Not only does supporting these wineries boost the local economy, but it also allows you to savor and appreciate the diverse flavors that your community has to offer. Let's raise a glass and discover the best wineries near you!
Supporting local wineries extends beyond enjoying a glass of wine. By visiting and purchasing from these wineries, you contribute to the growth of the local economy and help small businesses thrive. Many local wineries prioritize sustainability in their winemaking practices, making your support good for your taste buds and the environment.
Moreover, buying wine directly from the winery is the most sustainable choice as a consumer. You reduce the carbon footprint of distribution by eliminating the need to transport the wine to a shop or restaurant.
Additionally, supporting local wineries allows you to experience your region's unique flavors and characteristics. These wineries often use grapes specific to your area, producing truly distinctive wines. By tasting and learning about these wines, you can develop a deeper appreciation for the flavors and culture of your community.
When choosing a local winery to visit, consider factors such as the types of wines you enjoy. Research wineries that specialize in the wines you're interested in tasting. Additionally, consider the ambiance you prefer, whether casual or upscale, and explore wineries that align with your preferences. Location is also crucial, so research the wineries' proximity and surrounding amenities to plan your visit effectively.
Before visiting a winery's tasting room, it's helpful to research ahead of time. Here are key details to consider:
As people become more environmentally conscious, sustainability in winemaking has gained significance. Many local wineries are actively reducing their environmental footprint and implementing sustainable practices.
Some wineries have embraced sustainable, organic, or biodynamic farming methods, while others utilize renewable energy sources like solar panels to power their production facilities. By supporting these wineries, you enjoy delicious wines and contribute to a more sustainable future.
Exploring the best wineries in your neighborhood is a fun and exciting way to support local businesses while discovering new flavors and experiences. By visiting local wineries, you enjoy delicious wine, support the local economy, preserve tradition, promote sustainability, and reduce carbon emissions.
Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir Blanc are white wines, but Pinot Blanc is made from white grapes, while Pinot Noir Blanc is made from red grapes. It's important to note that Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris are clones of Pinot Noir, but they are considered different grape varieties. It's a common misconception that Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris are just different colors of the same grape, but they have distinct flavor profiles and characteristics.
Pinot Blanc is a clone of Pinot Noir that resulted from a genetic mutation that left a gap in the DNA sequence that determines skin color. Like other Pinot Noir clones, Pinot Blanc has its unique character both in the vineyard and in the glass. It's a late-ripening grape that tends to do well in cool climates.
Flavor Profile: lemon, pear, apple, apricot, almond, stony minerality
Pinot Gris is another Pinot Noir clone with a partial DNA color sequence mutation, resulting in the mauve hues we observe in the skins at harvest.
Flavor Profile: apple, pear, honey, flint, spearmint, citrus, peach
Pinot Noir Blanc is a white wine made from dark-skinned Pinot Noir grapes. The clusters are pressed immediately after harvest, limiting the amount of color extraction from the skins and their influence on flavor. The skins are usually present for red wines throughout the fermentation process, while for rosé, the skin contact is limited to a few hours or days.
Flavor Profile: apple, peach, clover, honeydew melon, jasmine
In conclusion, the Pinot family encompasses a world of exquisite flavors and intriguing possibilities. Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir Blanc showcase this grape lineage's versatility and depth. We invite you to embark on a tasting adventure, exploring the nuances and complexities of these remarkable wines.
At Kramer, we take pride in offering a diverse selection of white wines catering to Pinot red and white enthusiasts. Our collection includes the exquisite Pinot Noir Blanc and the captivating Pinot Gris, showcasing the versatility of this remarkable grape family. Whether you prefer Pinot Noir Blanc's elegance or Pinot Gris's enchanting flavors, we are committed to delivering exceptional quality and an unforgettable wine experience for Pinot red and white enthusiasts alike.
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*Please note: If you're interested in exploring the red wine expression of Pinot Noir, stay tuned for future discussions where we'll delve into the captivating world of Pinot Noir red wines.
Are you a fan of sparkling wines? If so, you're in luck because Kramer Vineyards produces some of the best Oregon sparkling wines! Here are five fizzy facts that make our wines stand out:
The Kramer estate vineyard.
Our Celebrate sparkling wines are unique varietal wines, including Pinot Noir, Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Gris, and Müller-Thurgau. We believe that each grape's flavor is best showcased on its own. The effervescence of our Celebrate wines only enhances the natural flavors and aromas of these varietals, resulting in a refreshing and perfect sparkling wine for any occasion.
Due to the size of our vineyard and winery, we've always taken a small-batch approach to winemaking. With only 22 acres of estate vines and 27 individual blocks, we carefully track and evaluate each block to ensure the fruit is of the highest quality for wines of this style. This approach means we're always working with tiny lots, allowing us to pay close attention to each batch and ensure that our wines are of the highest quality.
Our Celebrate sparkling wines are not aged for extended periods like traditional method sparkling wines. Instead, we use a modern proprietary method to release the wines only a few months after harvest. This preserves the fresh, lively character of the grapes and results in a wine bursting with flavor.
Most force-carbonated sparkling wines are injected with carbon dioxide on the bottling line, producing coarse, soda-pop-like bubbles. We believed a smaller bubble was possible with force carbonation. In 2004, owner Keith Kramer developed the system we use today. A week before bottling, the wine is transferred into a custom-built tank for pressurization. We chill the wine while gradually raising the pressure, resulting in tiny, plentiful bubbles. Our Celebrate sparkling wines are unique, high quality, and available at a lower price point than traditional sparkling wines due to the abbreviated aging process.
We prioritize sustainable winemaking practices to minimize our environmental impact at Kramer Vineyards. Our vineyard is dry-farmed, meaning we rely solely on natural rainfall to irrigate our vines, reducing water usage. Additionally, we use a lighter glass bottle for our Celebrate sparkling wines, which has a lower carbon footprint than traditionally made sparkling wines. From using solar panels to power our winery to implementing water conservation techniques, we're committed to preserving the beautiful Oregon wine country for generations.
Kramer Vineyards produces some of the finest Oregon sparkling wines, and we're proud to share them with you. From our 100% varietal wines to our small-batch, handcrafted approach to winemaking, we strive to create wines of exceptional quality and character. We invite you to visit our tasting room and experience our sparkling wines for yourself. Our knowledgeable staff will guide you through a tasting and share our passion for sustainable winemaking. Take advantage of this opportunity to discover some of the best sparkling wines in Oregon. Come and see us today!
Celebrate Rosé of Pinot Noir
These vines have the same DNA
Pinot Noir clones are genetically identical vines propagated asexually from a "mother vine." In other words, they are vine cuttings taken from a single, original vine and grown to produce new vines. These new vines are identical to the mother vine and to one another, which allows winemakers to plant vineyards with consistent grape quality and characteristics. Pinot Noir clones can vary in their susceptibility to disease, tolerance of climatic conditions, and flavor profiles. Understanding the different features of each clone is crucial for me, as I am always looking to produce wines of the highest quality that reflect the unique terroir of our vineyard.
Pinot Noir clones can arise through spontaneous mutations in the grapevine's DNA. These mutations create genetic variations that can change the vine's physical characteristics, such as the size or shape of its leaves or clusters of grapes. Winemakers often select and propagate clones that exhibit desirable traits, such as resistance to disease, tolerance of climatic conditions, or unique flavor profiles.
Pinot Noir has been cultivated for thousands of years, which has allowed numerous mutations to occur and be identified. While most clones originate from France, unique clones have also been identified in Switzerland, California, Oregon, and other regions. The mapping of the Pinot Noir genome in 2007 has further expanded our understanding of the genetic makeup of this grape variety and the potential for discovering new clones in the future.
Pinot Noir clones are continually evolving, and new clones may arise from spontaneous mutations. There is a possibility that the Kramer Vineyards may have a unique clone of Pinot Noir that has yet to be identified. This potential for discovery is part of what makes working with Pinot Noir clones so exciting for us.
Jumping genes are present in almost all living cells. 50% of the human genome are jumping genes; up to 90% of the maize genome are jumping genes!
You don't have to be a wine expert to appreciate the impact of clones on the flavor and aroma of Pinot Noir. Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc are also clones of Pinot Noir, created through mutations that affect the skin color of the grape. These mutations are so distinctive that they're often considered distinct grape varieties. We'll dive deeper into these varietals in another post. But for now, consider this: if you can tell the difference between white and red wine, your palate is expert enough to explore the nuances of Pinot Noir clones. By understanding the various clones, you can better appreciate the unique qualities of different Pinot Noir wines. For more on this topic, see Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir Blanc: What's the Difference?
The answer for winegrowers and winemakers is simple: it allows us to choose the best clones for our specific growing conditions and wine style. For wine drinkers, knowing about clones can enhance your appreciation and understanding of the wine you're enjoying. At Kramer Vineyards, we grow nine clones of Pinot Noir and make single-clone wines from several different clones of Pinot Noir. Let's take a closer look at the characteristics of the main clones in our vineyard.
The Pommard clone, originating from Pommard, a village in the Burgundy region of France, has made a new home in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, where our Kramer Estate vineyard is located. It has been an essential part of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir's history and reputation, as it was one of the first clones available in the US. It is planted in many of the region's oldest vineyards, including at Kramer Estate. This clone produces medium-sized clusters, often with shoulders, and is well-suited to the cool, moist climate of the Willamette Valley.
At Kramer Vineyards, the Pommard clone was the first clone of Pinot Noir planted in 1984 and remains a significant component in many of our Pinot Noir wines, including our Estate, Cardiac Hill, Rebecca's Reserve, and Heritage Pinot Noir wines. The grapes of the Pommard clone produce balanced and elegant wines suitable for aging, which is why it is still an essential part of our vineyard. When people think of what Oregon Pinot Noir tastes like, the Pommard clone is often a big part of that reputation.
Dijon 115 is a natural mutation of Pinot Noir, part of a group of so-called Dijon clones identified at the University in Dijon, Burgundy. It is an early ripening clone with small berries packed with intense flavors. Wines made from Dijon 115 grapes are known for their finesse and balance. It was one of the earliest Dijon clones available to us, and we first planted it in 1992 along with Pommard in the Rebecca's Reserve block. Depending on the vintage, Dijon 115 is also a component in our Cardiac Hill and Estate Pinot Noirs.
One of the reasons we selected this clone was based on the advice given to us by a winemaker from Burgundy who claimed it was rising in popularity there. We have found that Dijon 115 stands alone as a complete wine, unlike other clones that are great for specific attributes such as spiciness, tannin, or color. We find Dijon 115 to be incredibly balanced and elegant.
In conclusion, while clonal selection is essential in producing exceptional Pinot Noir, it is just one piece of the puzzle. The terroir and microclimate of a vineyard site can significantly impact how a particular clone expresses itself in the resulting wine. At Kramer Vineyards, we have seen this firsthand in our 22-acre vineyard. If you're interested in exploring the unique characteristics of each clone, we invite you to visit the single clone Pinot Noir section of our online store. Here you can experience each clone's distinct personality and flavors and gain a deeper appreciation for the complex interplay of factors that create truly exceptional wines.
Noble varieties make up the majority of the vineyard acreage in the Willamette Valley, but new and emerging grapes are also part of our story.
The Willamette Valley is world famous for Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay, but this region is more rich, diverse, and complex than any one variety. Pinot Noir is righfully our signature grape, but there's much left to explore.
When we started our vineyard in 1984, we planted Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Riesling. As we matured as winegrowers, we wondered about the potential of other cool climate varieties. Our curiosity is what led us to plant the relatively unknown Müller-Thurgau. That endeavor has been wildly successful, inspiring us to grow our collection of esoteric grapes to include Carmine, Grüner Veltliner, Marquette, and Pinot Meunier.
In the early 1980s, owner Keith Kramer took a vineyard management class with a fellow who was especially excited about Müller-Thurgau for Oregon. "He wouldn't shut up about it, so we bought some when we had the opportunity in the mid-80s," he says. The wine was a hit, so vines at our estate soon followed. We've found it to be very productive at our site, yielding flavorful fruit even in the most challenging vintages. We’ve made wines in a range of styles from dry to off-dry, semi-sweet to dessert, even sparkling. Both the sparkling and still wines have become quite popular and are usually the top sellers in the tasting room. In 2018, Wine Enthusiast recognized us as a Notable Müller-Thurgau Producer in the US.
Flavor profile: Peach, starfruit, lychee, passionfruit, mango, lime, gooseberry, and sweet basil.
We planted Grüner Veltliner with the intention of making a crisp, dry, and expressive white wine. The signature white grape of Austria, Grüner is famous for its peach and white pepper notes, and great versatility for pairing with food. Early harvests yielded fruit with high acidity that made more sense for our sparkling program. Starting in 2017, we began to divide the harvests between the cooler east side for sparkling, and the warmer west side for a still wine. Fun fact: Grüner Veltliner produces clusters that are ten times the size of Pinot Noir!
Flavor profile: Lemon, lime, cucumber, peach, white flowers, freshly cut grass, green apple, and pear.
Carmine was created in 1946 at UC Davis by Dr. Harold Olmo. This cross of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, and Merlot was developed to grow in the cooler, coastal regions of California. Olmo's vision never caught on as intended, and in the 1970s, these vines traveled north to Courting Hill Vineyard in Banks, Oregon. The vineyard owner, and Oregon wine legend Jim Leyden, introduced Keith Kramer to this grape variety, gifting him our first Carmine vines in 1989. We've learned much about this late ripening, thick-skinned grape, both in the vineyard and the winery. Our Carmine wines are dark red in color, and typically have herbaceous aromas and peppery notes. It has inherited a lot of flavors from its Cabernet Sauvignon grandparent, principally dark fruit, dark chocolate and the occasional hint of mint.
Flavor profile: Dried cranberries, maraschino cherries, cinnamon, anise, bell pepper, and cracked peppercorns.
Developed by the University of Minnesota in 2006 for extremely cold climates, Marquette is a complex hybrid. What caught our attention is that Pinot Noir is on the family tree. It took seven years for any wine to come from this effort, as the cool Willamette Valley is too warm for Marquette. The plants are several weeks ahead of everything else in our vineyard, resulting in some unique challenges, from inclement weather during critical growth periods, to early ripening (for more on this subject, see 27 Blocks: Harvest in a Bottle). To balance out Marquette's big personality, we coferment it with grapes sourced throughout our estate vineyard.
Flavor profile: Cherries, blackcurrants and blackberries, tobacco, leather
Barrel tasting the Marquette & More
The label is a patchwork quilt, representing the blocks of grapevines in our vineyard.
Piquette is a refreshing vinous drink with lower alcohol; fizzy and tart, with pure effervescence and natural fruit flavors, it’s the perfect alternative for a balanced lifestyle.
This spring, Kramer Vineyards launches Piquette, a nearly forgotten old-world beverage made from grape pressings and water. Known for its innovative sparkling wine program with offerings including sparkling Grüner Veltliner, Kramer saw an opportunity to offer something different.
Piquette might be as old as wine itself. The earliest stories are of Iora, an ancient Greek or Roman drink made from wine grape pressings that were rehydrated, pressed, fermented, and diluted further. Another story is that French vineyard workers were served a version of Piquette at lunch, so as not to interfere with their afternoon productivity.
“I saw a creative challenge in capturing so many trends with Piquette. It is the intersection of rosé, sparkling, low sugar, lower alcohol, single serving packaging—and it’s adjacent to the cider, craft beer, and hard seltzer categories.” said second generation winemaker, Kim Kramer.
Kramer was inspired to revive this beverage of the farm hand during the harvest of 2019. To make the Piquette, Kramer upcycled the pressings of their Müller-Thurgau grapes. The skins and pulp were reserved and rehydrated with well water, allowing the release of sugars and flavors. After steeping for four days, the grapes were pressed again, along with marc from a red ferment, giving the liquid a rosy glow. The must fermented in stainless, and was bottled November 2019, finishing fermentation under a crown cap to create the gentle sparkle. Fermented dry with just 7.5% alcohol, this crisp, easy-to-drink refresher pairs well with just about every sunny occasion.
Kramer Vineyards Piquette will be released on March 19, 2020.
Kramer Vineyards is a family owned and operated winery, now in its second generation. For 36 years, they have been growing grapes at their sustainably farmed vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. Kramer specializes in producing cool climate white, red, and sparkling wines at their property in Gaston, 30 miles west of Portland.
We’ve been growing the German-Swiss cross Müller-Thurgau since 1986. Over the years, we’ve made wines in a range of styles from dry to off-dry, semi-sweet to dessert, even sparkling. Both the sparkling and still wines have become quite popular and are usually the top sellers in the tasting room.
While Müller-Thurgau is widely planted in Germany, it also does quite well in the Alto Adige of northern Italy. These vineyards are planted at high elevations, with close spacing. In reading the online winemaking notes, we noticed a couple of key production differences. First, the wines are fermented and aged in concrete or old oak casks. Concrete is an area of interest, but not an investment we're ready to make quite yet. Second, the grapes are crushed before pressing.
Foot crushing the Müller-Thurgau
We found the idea of crushing Müller-Thurgau very intriguing. As a rule, we whole cluster press our white wine grapes. Whole cluster pressing reduces the extraction of harsh tannins. These compounds may impart bitterness or astringency on the palate. However, Müller-Thurgau is a grape that is naturally low in tannins. Further, we wondered if crushing the grapes might result in a wine with more varietal expression. However, we don't own a machine that crushes grapes, so how would we experiment with crushing the fruit? Taking another cue from the old world, we decided to adopt a low-tech solution: feet.
During the harvest of 2018, we invited folks up to the vineyard on the day of the Müller-Thurgau pick to help us with this very important task! The harvest started at dawn, finishing around noon. We lined up the bins of grapes on the crush pad, and after a foot sanitizing dip and rinse, people climbed into the boxes one by one and went to work. It only took about 15 minutes, but squashing grapes with your feet is a quite a workout!
We noticed a difference between whole cluster pressing and crushing immediately; the press yield was 14% higher in the crushed fruit. During primary fermentation, the tanks produced a cornucopia of tropical aromas. After fermentation, we noticed the wine was quite flavorful, which is unusual for Müller-Thurgau at that stage. We continued to observe amplified flavor through the spring, finding the variety’s trademark peach and starfruit profile, but also lychee, passionfruit, mango, lime, gooseberry, and sweet basil.
Based on the flavor profile of the 2018 Müller-Thurgau, we decided to crush in 2019 as well. Now that we have another vintage for comparison, we're convinced that crushing is the best protocol for this variety. The 2018 Müller-Thurgau Estate will be released February 6.
Made from rehydrated grape pressings, Piquette is a lower-alcohol beverage full of fizz and fruit. We read about this nearly forgotten beverage of the ancient farm worker during harvest and decided to give it a try with Müller-Thurgau. Grape solids usually go to the compost pile after pressing, but there’s still sugar and flavor in those skins and pulp that can be extracted after a few days of steeping in water and pressed again. We were delighted to find this humble drink to be tart and citrusy, with a gentle sparkle on the palate. The finished alcohol is 7.5%, perfect for a sunny midday refresher.
Bottled in single-serving 12-ounce longnecks and sharable 750 mL sparkling formats, the Piquette will be released on the first day of spring, March 19.
Also known as méthode ancestrale, this is the oldest method of sparkling production, in which the wine is bottled before primary fermentation is complete, finishing in the bottle. The active yeast consumes the residual sugar from the grapes, generating pressure, resulting in a gentle fizz with loads of yellow fruit flavors. Typically, the wine is not disgorged, and will have a cloudy appearance from the spent yeast in the bottle.
We released a small 20-case lot of Pinot Gris made in this style over the summer, and it sold out quickly. Between the strong response in the tasting room and our desire to grow in our knowledge of sparkling wines, we have increased production this year. Look for the 2019 Pétillant-Naturel Pinot Gris this spring.
We’ve been bottling standalone clones of Pinot Noir since the 2014 vintage (click here for more explanation). In 2017, we expanded the collection to include five clones: Pommard, Wädenswil, 115, 667, and 777. These are wines we make for ourselves, to learn more about clonal selection and expression, and we’ve been pleasantly surprised that these wines have gained a following over the last few years. We’ll be releasing the elegant 2017s throughout the spring and summer and will host a comparative tasting on April 25 & 26 (reservations recommended).
The short answer is that the grapes are doing just fine. We’re still about 15 inches behind in rainfall for the calendar year, so the vineyard has absorbed the recent rain quickly. It’s been 104 days since bloom, and the Pinot Noir looks full, healthy, and on track to harvest in a couple of weeks.
The only crop damage we're seeing so far is due to sunburn, and that happened long before September.
--Keith Kramer, owner
The concern with excess rainfall just before harvest is twofold: first, water has the potential to puff up the fruit, diluting sugars, acids, and flavors. In extreme cases, the skins can split, leading to rot. While crop losses due to rain-fueled disease is always a consideration in this region, our farming team keeps this in mind throughout the growing season, taking steps to promote good air flow and an open canopy.
The most challenging harvest in this regard was in 2013. Typhoon Pabuk dumped inches of rain on us over a single weekend when there was Pinot Noir still ripening on the vine. Good farming practices, meticulous sorting, and thoughtful winemaking produced some truly stunning wines that year. Plus, the drama of a once-in-a-hundred years storm made for some great conversation. This year hardly compares to that vintage, as the rain has been much lighter, spread over several weeks.
It’s not unusual for the Willamette Valley to receive an inch or two of rainfall in September. Looking at the monthly totals since our first harvest in 1989, preharvest precipitation is something of an annual event. It’s clear that 2019 is above average, but not record-breaking. The amount of rain this year is closest to 2010, and it’s tempting to draw a comparison to one of our favorite vintages. While the weeks leading up to the harvest are defining ones, it’s only part of the story.
If we layer Growing Degree Days into the discussion, a different picture of vintage 2019 begins to emerge. Growing Degree Days (GDDs) are a measure of heat accumulation throughout the growing season.
It’s interesting to note that classic “warm” vintages like 2004, 2006, and 2009, are on par with our current “mild” summer in terms of GDDs. Of the three, the most apt vintage comparison might be 2004. ’04 is remembered for a warm and dry summer, followed by September rain. What comes up less in this conversation, is that the weeks during harvest in October were beautiful that year.
We've been farming this property for 35 years. In that time, we've experienced a vast range of harvest conditions--wet, dry, humid, cool, early, and late. The vintages we find compelling often have rainy Septembers: 2004, 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2017.