WillaKenzie Estate in Yamhill was founded in 1991 by Bernard Lacroute, a long-time executive in various high-tech enterprises, and his former wife Ronni, who remains involved in the business. They purchased a 420-acre former cattle ranch and named it WillaKenzie after the soils and rivers in the area. A native of France, Bernard grew up in a small village in Burgundy before studying physics and electrical engineering in preparation for a career in technology. Today the estate makes a sizable portfolio of Pinot Noirs from various vineyards, Gamay Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. The winemaker is Thibaud Mandet, also a native of France.
Yamhill-Carlton AVA is located in Yamhill and Washington Counties, and it is entirely contained within the Willamette Valley AVA, Oregon’s most prestigious wine producing region. It has 1,200 vineyard acres and was awarded AVA status in 2004. The region grows Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Dolcetto, Muscat, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. Ken Wright Cellars, Elk Cove Vineyards and WillaKenzie Estate are among the district’s best-known producers. All focus on Pinot Noir.
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.