Ken Wright Cellars is in Carlton, Oregon. It was founded in 1994 by Ken Wright, a winemaker who began his career at wineries on California’s Central Coast. The winery focuses on the terroir of its various vineyards and makes a portfolio of Pinot Noirs. Robert M. Parker Jr. has written that “Ken Wright Cellars has long been one of the reference points for Pinot Noir fanatics…” The estate in 2003 started another label, Tyrus Evan, which produces Claret, Syrah, Malbec, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc.
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.
This red wine is relatively light and can pair with a wide variety of foods. The grape prefers cooler climates and the wine is most often associated with Burgundy, Champagne and the U.S. west coast. Regional differences make it nearly as fickle as it is flexible.