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
Yes. Our tasting room is open for bottle sales and wine club pick ups 11 am to 5 pm, Thursdays – Mondays. There’s no need to make an appointment. The way our tasting room is situated, we can see incoming traffic. We’ll greet you on the patio in our ‘outdoor store’ and get you what you need.
Yes. Call us before you come up to make arrangements, or call us from the parking lot, and we’ll bring the wine to your vehicle. The tasting room number is (503) 662-4545.
Yes. Shipping is included on orders of $100 or more to OR, WA, and CA; and $150 or more to orders to the rest of the contiguous US where wine shipments are allowed.
Not yet. We want the tasting experience to be safe and relaxing for everyone. Between the tasting room remodel and the new rules, we still have some details to work out.
We’re tentatively planning to resume tasting service on June 4. When we reopen, the tasting experience will be a little different. Tastings will be seated and by appointment only. Groups are welcome, but please limit your party to 10 people.
Not yet. We're at least two weeks out from having adequate guest seating for consumption onsite.
Sadly, our summer events are cancelled, including the winemaker dinners. With all the uncertainty about the next phase, anticipated crowd size restrictions, social distancing, and sanitation protocols, event planning is impractical.
Not right now. Non-essential travel is not allowed in Phase 1; overnight and non-essential trips, including recreational day trips should be avoided. Further, the state has stipulated that residents of a county that has not reopened are advised to refrain from making trips to counties that are open.
We’re just fine, all things considered! It’s very strange not getting to visit with our regular guests. But otherwise, there’s plenty of space and things to do on the farm! We are more concerned about your wellbeing and our community than we are for ourselves right now. Drink small, eat small, buy small, and we thank you for your support.
Have a question we haven't addressed here? Contact us.
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
Piquette is a refreshing vinous drink with lower alcohol; fizzy, tart, and refreshing, with pure effervescence and natural fruit flavors, it’s the perfect low calorie, low sugar 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.
With grilling and cookout season around the corner, it’s time to stock up on wines for summer entertaining. Second-generation Willamette Valley winegrower Kramer Vineyards produces both still and sparkling rosés. The winery’s General Manager and grilling enthusiast Becky Kramer shares her top picks for selecting wines for your next barbecue.
“Always have plenty of chilled sparkling wine and rosé on hand. They’re some of the most food-friendly wines out there! The combination of refreshing, bright acidity and fruity flavors really works with the savory smokiness of the grill. A dry rosé can pair with everything from shellfish to pulled pork sliders, ribs, burgers and sausages—even the potato salad.”
The Willamette Valley is synonymous with Pinot Noir, and Kramer has plenty of experience pairing this with salmon, pork chops, lamb, chicken and game birds. “Oregon Pinot noir is quite versatile with grilled foods too,” she notes, “it’s inherently earthy and smoky, often spicy, and the red or dark fruitiness pops nicely without dominating the meal.” If beef is on the menu, she’ll open something darker, like a Syrah or Rhône blend. “Beef usually needs wines with more tannins, so reach for something that will stain your teeth.”
At her own grill, Becky says she loves to cook meat of all types, but drumsticks are her favorite, “there’s something incredibly satisfying about standing over the grill with tongs in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.” Her favorite wine to serve? Rosé of course, “still or sparkling, as long as it’s dry.”
Becky’s fondness for grilling was fueled by her childhood growing up in wine country. “We have a hill that overlooks the vineyard and is our favorite spot to grill with friends. In the summertime, we’ll host causal cookouts and everyone brings good sides and wine to share while the meat or fish is cooking. It’s a wonderful communal experience in a relaxed atmosphere, and the view is amazing.”
Kramer Vineyards is releasing a new collection of rosé wines from its estate vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, just in time for barbecue season.
2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir
2017 Rosé of Carmine
2017 Rosé of Pinot Gris
2017 Celebrate Sparkling Rosé of Pinot Noir
2017 Celebrate Sparkling Rosé of Pinot Gris
Müller-Thurgau is a white grape variety created by Dr. Hermann Müller from the Swiss Canton of Thurgau in the 1880s. The goal was to cross Riesling, capturing its rich, complex flavors, with the earlier ripening Sylvaner. However, neither of these goals was achieved, nor was Sylvaner crossed with Riesling. DNA fingerprinting has revealed that Müller-Thurgau is a cross of Riesling and a grape called Madeleine Royale. The latter, as it turns out, is a cross of Pinot and Trolliger. Most widely planted in Germany, Müller-Thurgau is also found in Austria, Northern Italy, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Japan, and of course, the United States.
In 1980, vineyard owner Keith Kramer took a viticulture class at Erath every other Saturday for three months. The instructor Al Holstein, had some Müller-Thurgau planted in his vineyard. This was very exciting to another student in the class, who peppered Holstein with questions about the grape. Keith was not very interested in Müller-Thurgau initially, but the guy “made such a stink about it” that when the Kramers had an opportunity to buy some fruit from Courting Hill Vineyard a few years later they decided to try it. That first wine was a very fruity, off-dry white that had enough potential that they went ahead and procured some starts from Sokol Blosser in the mid-1980s.
Müller-Thurgau was among the first wines in our tasting room for our grand opening in 1990, and it quickly gained a following. We increased the acreage in our estate vineyard to three, which does not sound like much, but this variety routinely produces 4-6 tons to the acre, double or triple the yield compared to Pinot Noir. As our production grew, we experimented with assorted styles, including a sparkling wine, a dessert wine, a dry barrel-fermented wine, and a late harvest wine. The stainless, fruity Estate bottling is our most popular wine, followed by the Celebrate sparkling wine.
It is easy to see why Muller-Thurgau is a tasting room favorite. In a region full of Pinot Gris, and to a lesser extent Chardonnay and Riesling, Müller-Thurgau stands out. Its unique flavor profile with starfruit, lychee, melon, hints of orange blossom and gardenia, gentle acidity with a sweet and sour effect on the palate makes it easy to sip. Plus, Müller ripens at lower sugar levels, so the alcohols in the finished wines are lower than many table wines, usually around 11%.