Yamhill Carlton Wineries

One of the country’s top producers of cool climate varietals, the Yamhill Carlton American Viticultural Area (AVA) has a recent history of winemaking. It wasn’t until 2004 that the area was officially created. The towns of Carlton and Yamhill can be found 35 miles southwest of Portland and 40 miles east of the Pacific Ocean and include over 75 plus wineries.

Yamhill Carlton Wineries

Down to Earth Motto

The area carries the motto, ‘Down to Earth’ which refers to the elements in the marine sedimentary soils. It also pays homage to the amiable and communal spirit of the people who’ve lived in the area since the 1850s. This spirit still lives on today in the area and is a huge reason they are so successful.

Elk Cove Vineyards

Pat and Joe Campbell started Elk Cove Vineyards in 1974. It was Elk Cove that produced the first commercial wine in Yamhill-Carlton. In 1995, Adam Campbell began working with his parents. It is still a family-owned business today producing some of the best pinot noir, pinot blanc, and pinot gris in the area and including six vineyards including Estate Vineyard, Windhill Vineyard, Five Mountain Vineyard, Mount Richmond Vineyard, Clay Court Vineyard, and Goodrich Vineyard. After the success of Elk Cove, many others followed and the area was born.

Creation of the AVA

The Yamhill Carlton AVA was created to distinguish fruit grown in the oldest marine sedimentary based soils. There are 48 different wineries in the Yamhill Carlton AVA and 53 vineyards. It is the area’s unique growing conditions that draw winegrowers from all over the world to settle here. The ancient marine sediments are the oldest soils in Willamette Valley. They drain quickly. and this makes them perfect for viticulture.

Characteristics of the Wines

The Pinot Noirs are plummy and black fruited with hints of black cherries and blackberry. This is framed by a minerality that is likened to that of pipe tobacco, expresso, clove and dark chocolate. And, it is accented by scents of lavender, rose, and violet.

Yamhill Carlton Pinot Noir is deeper in color and lower in acidity than other regions.


There are monthly events including tastings that can be attended at the different vineyards. The Yamhill Carlton AVA website posts these events daily. August 5, Lenne’ Estate Blind Tasting Oregon Pinot Noirs will be held at 11 a.m. Tickets are $45 each.

On August 6, Carlton Cellars is hosting the Williamette Cornhole Tournament Championship from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. at Russell-Grooters Vineyard. Tickets are available now for $10 each.

In September, Carlton Cellars will host the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon. The AVA has many events scheduled until the end of the year. Check the Yamhill Carlton AVA website for more information on each one.

Success of Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is so successful in Yamhill Carlton because of the combination of geology, temperature and rainfall. These three things create the perfect environment for a Pinot Noir that is ‘world renowned’. Because the sediments are shallow, they encourage early ripening of the Pinot Noir. Thick and flavorful skins are brought about by the shifts in temperature in the summer days and nights. Ripeness comes with excellent acidity.

There is no doubt that world class wine can be found in Yamhill Carlton. Growers share a passion for wine that is unmatched in any other area of the world. This passion and commitment, combined with the perfect soil combination, makes for a perfect taste.