At the conclusion of the Wine Bloggers Conference I along with 13 other wonderful wine bloggers were invited to the Carlton – Yamhill AVA about an hour or so outside of Portland, Oregon.  Having no expectations, as this was my first time in Oregon I was blown away by their hospitality!

This small town, and I mean small, banded together to show these 14 wine bloggers what it is like in their region.  The wine, the food and the hospitality.  I new we were in for a treat when I saw the bus.  Party bus and all complete with couches.  We were in for a treat.  First stop was the Carlton “Walk in the Park” festival.

Our group – Photo by Josh Chang

If you ever thought you were in “Mayberry” this was Mayberry (complete with a handsome looking police chief) The Walk in the Park was a nice festival with art, music, crafts and a wine tent.  I tasted some very good Pinot Noirs but the one story that stuck out was of Ghost Hill Cellars.  Their story was interesting (I’ll get to that in a sec) and their 2010 Pinot Noir was very nicely balanced.  I asked why the name Ghost Hill Cellars.  Seems the farm has been in the family since 1906.  In the early 1800’s a gold miner camped on the hill with his horse and was killed for a poke of gold.  It is said that his spirit has been seen riding his horse to find our who killed him.

I had the best BLT I’ve ever had at the Republic of Jam, who hosted us many times throughout our two day stay.  Their BLT was made with their Smoked Tomato & Fennel Jam. Lynette and Amy always made sure we had something in our stomach and introduced us to new drinks along the way.  Their jams were fantastic and I can’t wait to order a bunch for holiday gifts!

I stayed the night at R.R. Thompson House with Doug and Robin. The house has 5 rooms with two of them huge suites. (each of us had a regular room). Mike and Roselyn were gracious hosts.

One of my favorite highlights of the trip was a visit with Ken Wright at his vineyard. I will write more about this in another post, but truly some of the best Pinot Noir I had on my trip.  Being that it was 10am and he was pouring us two selections, I have to admit, I didn’t spit.  You know my saying…if it’s good, swallow! I enjoyed and savored each sip.

Next vineyard I visited was Monks Gate Vineyards.  Ron and Linda were so warm and welcoming.  And I can’t say enough about the wine cookies she made for our tasting! (I am so lucky she shared the recipe with me.  I hope they come out just as good as hers)

Their story is a dream of retirement.  Ron was born and raised on a cattle farm and after 30 years in aviation(he flew cargo jets) he wanted to go back into farming.  They purchased the property in 1998 and planted 2 acres of Riesling and 18 acres of Pinot Noir in 2000.  Their land is all dry farmed and they produce between 200-350 cases of wine a year.  The remaining fruit is sold to other winemakers in the region.

You might ask about the name “Monks Gate.”  Seems their property backs up against a property were the Monks live and farm.  They asked Ron if he was going to fence in his property.  He had no plans to, but asked why.  They told him they walk through his land on their way to town.  Ron told him if he had to put up a fence he would make sure there was a gate for them to pass through.  Ron realized that he needed to protect his crop from wildlife and eventually did have to put up a fence and living up to his word put in a gate for the Monks to use to pass through.  Hence, the name ” Monks Gate.”

They have no plans to grow as it’s just the two of them and they are only open May – Nov. Fri – Sun and by appointment.  Totally worth the trip if you are in the area.  They had a great Rose.  Yes Rose, and I ordered one to be sent home.

The main street in Carlton is lined with tasting rooms and that is where we spent the last afternoon we were there. It was a very organized fashion as we were all in groups and went to 7 of the tasting rooms.  The last tasting room we were in we were busted by Officer “Goodbody” Martinez. He gave us all a great send off at Cielo Blu where we given some light fare and a chance to revisit all the wines that were tasted during our two day stay.

The people of Carlton couldn’t do enough for us.  Their hospitality went above and beyond.  I can’t wait to return with Paul which will hopefully be within the next year.

Thank you everyone in Carlton who made our post conference stay one to remember!  (I don’t want to name you all in case I forget someone.)