Lemelson Vineyards in Carlton offered a 1999 Pinot Noir as its debut vintage. The estate was founded and is run by Eric Lemelson, an environmental lawyer, climate activist and builder of LEED energy efficient buildings. Lemelson Vineyards owns 139 acres of vineyards in seven parcels, and farming is entirely organic. The winery facility itself was built to strict energy efficiency standards and the entire winemaking process is performed according to rigorous sustainability practices. The estate produces several Pinot Noirs, Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Gris. The winemaker is Matt Wengel. Lemelson wines have earned ratings in the low 90s from reviewers, and Wine Advocate has noted that “Lemelson is one to keep your eye on over the next few years…”
Willamette Valley AVA was established in 1983, and it is the oldest appellation in Oregon. Oregon’s modern wine industry began in the Willamette Valley in the 1960s when artists, vagabond winemakers, and U.C. Davis oenology graduates looking for new territory started their own, small, off-the-grid wineries. The appellation is the state’s largest, and it extends 175 miles from Columbia River on the Washington/Oregon border to just south of Eugene, near central Oregon. The Willamette River runs through the area, helping to give the appellation a mild year-round climate. There are six smaller sub-appellations within this AVA, but altogether the Willamette Valley has the largest concentration of wineries in Oregon, as well as the majority of the state’s most famous producers. Pinot Noir is king here, followed by Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling. To most admirers of Oregon Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley offers the most distinctive wine choices in the state.