You know that you have found a special place, when I can’t think of anything snarky or smart-assy to say about it. This is truly the case with Yamhill-Carlton. In fact, I have genuine affection for the people of the region for the kindness and enthusiasm that they showed to a bunch of wine bloggers. But more on that later…. This is a discussion of the appellation as a whole. Yamhill-Carlton was created originially in 2004 as the Yamhill-Carlton District AVA but was amended in 2010 to remove the word District from the official name. Why? Well, the assumption had been that district was pretty much implied by creating an AVA in the first place and that there was just so much real estate available on a wine bottle label. Either way, the justifications for the creating of the viticultural area remained the same – elevation, soils and climates.
The soils of the area are ancient ocean sediments mixed with basalts from the sea floor which are capable of holding moisture much longer than others. The two most predomininant types are the Willakenzie which is well drained with medium permeability and Peavine which are found at higher elevations and contain more clays which allows for slightly slower drainage. Elevation is also a differentiating element for the appellation. The requirements under TTBs rules require that the elevation for qualifying wines must be between 200 and 1000 feet. This is important as lower areas are subject to frost, while higher sites do not get enough warmth to allow grapes to mature. Additionally, the climate is overall warmer and dryer than the surrounding areas which include the Coastal Range to the west and the Van Duzer Corridor to the south which allows cool damp air from the Pacific to move eastward into the central part of the state.
Currently there are 60 vineyards and 30 wineries producing from the following varietals:
- Early Muscat
- Muscat Ottonel
- Pinot Blanc
- Pinot Gris
- Pinot Meunier
- Pinot Noir