Kramer Vineyards Marks Another Milestone: 30 Years
For Kramer Vineyards, the month of May marks an incredible 30 year milestone for this pioneering, two-generation Oregon wine industry family, who purchased their Gaston, Oregon property in 1983. Gaston is located in a unique micro-climate in the Northern Willamette Valley, in the sub AVA (American Viticulture Area) of Yamhill-Carlton. Many aspects of the areas climate draws winegrowers into the region: The Coast Range to the west, Dundee Hills to the east and the Chehalem Mountains to the north establish somewhat of a protection that’s called a ‘rain shadow’ over the entire area, and the native marine sedimentary soils offer excellent and quick drainage. These factors contribute to creating an environment ideal for viticulture, where the vines and shoots stop growing earlier than other areas, which allows for earlier and more complete ripening of the fruit (source: yamhillcarlton.org).
Since 1983, owners Keith and Trudy Kramer have paved a path of milestones from starting with the purchase of their Gaston property in 1983 to celebrating the beginning of 30 years and opening a new tasting room in downtown Carlton, Oregon, in 2013. Other milestones to be noted include:
- 1984 – First Pinot, Chardonnay and Riesling vines planted
- 1986 – First Pinot Gris and Müller-Thurgau vines planted
- 1988 – First commercial vintage produced under Kramer Vineyards Label
- 1989 – First vintage produced from estate grown fruit; first Carmine planted
- 1990 – Winery tasting room opened
- 1993 – Cellar Door wine club launched
- 1994 – Experimental block of Dijon clone Chardonnay established
- 1998 – Inaugural Rebecca’s Reserve created–first of three single block designate Pinot Noirs
- 2000 – Estate vineyard certified Salmon Safe
- 2005 – Estate Vineyard LIVE (Low Impact Viticulture & Enology) certified
- 2008 – Kim Kramer, second generation winemaker, joins winemaking team
- 2009 – First Brut vintage of méthode champenoise sparkling wine released
- 2012 – new labels unveiled
Part of the Kramer month-long 30 year anniversary celebration is the release of their 2010 Heritage Pinot Noir. 2010 is a significant vintage for the Karmer family because it’s the year that winemaker Kim Kramer worked harvest in Burgundy, France, and when she returned to Oregon, she applied what she had learned to the making of the Heritage Pinot Noir. Heritage is the name of a specific vineyard block of Pinot Noir which was planted in 1984; the first planted in their vineyard.
The Kramer Vineyards 2010 Heritage Pinot Noir ($40) is an absolutely stellar example of the world-class, elegant Pinot Noirs that are produced in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. Alluring and powerful fruit aromas of ripe strawberries and black cherries enhanced by hints of clove and vanilla flow onto the palate, silky, seamless waves. The mouthfeel is lush and juicy with soft acidity and fine grained, velvety tannins that perfectly round out the fruit. The finish is smooth and balanced with flavors that mimic aromas – I love this Pinot Noir.
A couple other Kramer Vineyards wines I sampled were equally delicious.
Kramer Vineyards 2011 Müller-Thurgau ($12): This juicy, fruity, off-dry Müller-Thurgau could easily be twice as much in price. Appealing floral notes are highlighted by apricot, pineapple, honeysuckle and nutmeg in both aromas and flavors. Light and refreshing with a bit of lemon zest on the finish, this juicy delight is down-right scrumptious.
Kramer Vineyards 2009 Kimberly’s Reserve Pinot Gris ($18): Incredibly unique, I can’t think of another Pinot Gris that has aromas quite as luscious and divine as this one, and the color resembled liquid gold. Gorgeous aromas of Honey Crisp apples, sweet, ripe pears and honeydew melon transpired on the palate beautifully with the addition of toffee mid-palate. The succulent, rich and complex characteristics are a result of being fermented in neutral oak barrels. After fermentation, the wine aged on the lees for ten months, which imparts an amazing depth of character. This is truly an outsanding Pinot Gris.
In addition to celebrating 30 years of Oregon winegrowing with the release of their 2010 Heritage Pinot Noir, Kramer Vineyards is collecting 30 years of memories from visitors and friends. To participate, fans can submit a Kramer Vineyards story or experience on the winery’s Facebook page, and one lucky fan will become an honorary club member for one year; receiving preferred pricing, invites to member-only events, early access to new releases and more. Now, that would be awesome.
Visit Kramer Vineyards in two different locations: 26830 Northwest Olson Road, Gaston, OR 97119 and 258 Kutch Street, Carlton, OR 97111
*Note: These wines were submitted to me for review purposes