AWG Correspondent

Rob Boss

Kramer Vineyards - Carlton Photos

Kramer Vineyards - Carlton Review

Regions: Willamette Valley AVA, Yamhill-Carlton Region, Oregon

Reviewed: November 29, 2015 by Rob Boss
Published: July 1, 2016

(Photos by Jai Soots)

Kramer Vineyard’s tiny tasting room lies just off the main drag in downtown Carlton, Oregon, a couple doors down from Troon. It’s also right around the corner from almost a dozen other very good tasting rooms and restaurants, all of which conspire to make it an easy choice to stop. Add to that, Kramer sells sparkling wine, which automatically makes them a good place to start your tasting day. Park the car and wander around—much wine to be had!

The tasting fee includes four choices out of six to eight options. Having featured Kramer Chardonnay in a restaurant I’d managed, I pointedly skipped it and picked four I’d never had before, starting with the sparkling 2014 Celebrate Rose of Pinot Noir. The nose was full of bright, shiny, tart raspberries and so was the palate, featuring a semi fine mousse. The follow up non-vintage Sparkling Pinot Gris had a touch of residual sugar but still crisp pear flavors. Not unpleasant, but here’s the deal: the wines are infused with carbon dioxide bubbles. They’re OK, but they never achieve the greatness of a bottle fermented traditional, Champagne method, sparkling wine. If your experience with this style of sparkling wine is “a hangover in a bottle,” you’re not alone—but this isn’t Tott’s we’re talking about here. It’s higher quality wine to begin with, so you’ll be fine. Kramer does make one sparkler in méthode traditonelle, although I didn’t get to try it that day.

Next, we moved on to a pair of Pinot Noirs, starting with the 2012 Estate. There was a dark, intense black cherry, cocoa and anise nose. The ripe black fruit flavors were very representative of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. It’s a very accessible cocktail wine. The last pour was the 2011 Heritage that showed big raspberry and crushed fruit on the nose. The palate was full of ripe raspberries and blackberries and a very long finish, which was a good ending for the line-up.

As mentioned before, I had put their Chardonnay on my wine list, many years ago. We sold gallons of it, with visceral responses from our customers—on at least one occasion getting directions to the winery for a hotel guest who was heading to wine country, so the public has spoken. Actually, that’s a pretty ringing endorsement from the public. The other part of the story is that when I tasted it back then, I thought the quality was there—meaning the winemaker got there on purpose, not by accident, could and would repeat it without flaw—but it wasn’t to my taste. Yet I knew there was a certain customer for the wine, and I was pretty sure they were staying in our hotel. In short, Kramer brought it and people happily bought it.

Nothing says success like success, and Kramer made a good case that day. The tasting room was cozy and clean, the service was gracious and warm, and we definitely felt welcome. Add a glass of Kramer wine to that and what more could you want?

Address & Contact Information: 258 N. Kutch St. Carlton, Oregon 97111. Telephone: 503-852-3045, website: Tasting Hours: May-Oct: Thurs-Sun 11:00-5:00; Nov-Apr: Fri-Sun 11:00-5:00.

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