These vines have the same DNA
An organism or cell, or group of organisms or cells, produced asexually from one ancestor or stock, to which they are genetically identical. In viticulture, clones are cut from a “mother vine” to grow new vines. These cuttings are genetically identical to the original vine and one another.
Spontaneous mutation! The genome for Pinot Noir was mapped in 2007. In the process, it was discovered that Pinot Noir has many "jumping genes." This refers to parts of the DNA code that move, creating gaps that cause mutation. If you've ever seen an ear of corn with a rainbow of kernels, it's the same mechanism at work. Pinot Noir is thousands of years old, with hundreds of mutations that have successfully been identified and reproduced. These mutations are what we’re referring to when we discuss clones. Most of these clones are from France, but unique clones have been identified in Switzerland, California, and Oregon.
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!
Not really. Consider this: Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc are clones of Pinot Noir! They are mutations of Pinot Noir where the part of the DNA that determines skin color jumped, creating clones that are so distinctive, we think of them as different grape varieties altogether. If you can tell the difference between white and red wine, your palate is expert enough to explore clones further. (For more on this topic, see Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir Blanc: What's the Difference?)
Quite a lot! We grow nine clones of Pinot Noir at our estate vineyard. We observe many differences between the clones in the field, from cluster shape, to skin thickness, ripening time, and flavor profile. There are many more clones of Pinot available, although not all are suited to our cool climate. In addition, not all clones are ideal for red wines! The clones grown in Champagne for sparkling production are rarely the same clones planted in Burgundy for red wines.
Here are the three main clones in our vineyard, and the subjects of our single clone Pinot Noir series:
Keep in mind--grapevines are extremely sensitive to vineyard site, and the same clone will express itself uniquely when planted in different locations. We see this in our own 22-acre vineyard. The vine's response to its environment is essential to understanding the concept of terroir. While clonal selection is significant, it's one of many variables that influence a wine's personality.
If you wish to explore this subject further, check out our single clone Pinot Noir in the online store >>
Our first sparkling wines were launched in 2001 under the Celebrate label. Those early releases were made from Müller-Thurgau and Pinot Gris. The collection has since expanded to include Pinot Noir, Grüner Veltliner, Carmine, and rosé. As the program grows, we highlight how this series of sparkling wines differs from the vast majority of bubbly available on the market today:
The Kramer estate vineyard.
Celebrate Rosé of Pinot Noir
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.
Current releases: 2018 Celebrate Sparkling Müller-Thurgau, 2018 Müller-Thurgau Estate.
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.
Current releases: 2018 Celebrate Sparkling Grüner Veltliner, 2018 Grüner Veltliner Estate
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.
Current release: 2015 Carmine 'Big Red'
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
Current release: 27 Blocks
Barrel tasting the Marquette & More
The label is a patchwork quilt, representing the blocks of grapevines in our vineyard.