History of Freedom Hill Vineyard

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This gallery contains 12 photos.

History in the Vineyards, A Genesis Tour of Ken Wright Cellars Single Vineyard Pinot Noir Sites & Sources By Jim Gullo Vineyard Focus: Freedom Hill Vineyard Purchase Wine One hundred and forty years of history allow for considerable hindsight, and … Continue reading

Ken’s 2015 Harvest Letter

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This gallery contains 6 photos.

October 31st, 2015 Dear Friends, We have been blessed with receiving quite fortunate press over the last year. The cover of Wine Spectator last May, with the accompanying in depth article by Harvey Steiman, brought well deserved international attention to … Continue reading

Ken’s 2014 Harvest Letter

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This gallery contains 32 photos.

Audio Version: 2014 Harvest Letter November 4, 2014 Dear Friends,     We produced the # 1 wine on the planet per Wine Enthusiast this year, but please read on…      As those who live here know, we experienced one … Continue reading

Lunch Time at KWC

It’s almost lunch time at Ken Wright Cellars, and a savory smell from the winery kitchen is wafting up the stairwell to the office and through the alley ways of the barrels in the cellar. If good weather permits, chairs are set up in a circle underneath the canopy of Wisteria in front of the winery.  Then, the staff hears the phrase “lunch is ready!” being called out from the chef in the kitchen. We all eagerly form a line and dish up, and eat together as a group outside. This is a daily routine here at the winery.

Karen cooking up some beef on the EVO!

The chef who has prepared our food is none other than Karen Wright. Karen once played a large role in helping Ken run the business in its earlier years. Then as the company grew, and Ken and Karen’s family grew to include their two girls, Josie and Evy, Karen decided to concentrate on raising their girls, her own jewelry business, and other community organizations she is involved in. However, Karen still wanted to contribute to the winery. So, she began preparing meals for the whole working staff every day.

Now when you think of lunch time at work you might be en-visioning a typical brown bag lunch, with a cold sandwich, chips and a beverage. This is certainly not what is on the menu when Karen is the kitchen. She cooks a wide variety of dishes ranging from Italian, Mexican, BBQ, & seafood for example. She concentrates on cooking with local and seasonal ingredients.  The meat is usually sourced from Carlton Farms, or from market animals they have purchased from local youth involved in 4-H or FFA. Now for her source of produce and fresh herbs, she simply has to walk across the street to her raised beds located behind our tasting room. These beds are filled with fresh tomatoes, kale, beans, zucchinis, and many other vegetables.  These beds also provide food to the local food bank, Joseph Storehouse, during the summer.


We all feel very privileged at KWC to have our lunch time meals provided by Ken and Karen. It is a time we all look forward to each day.

Abbott Claim Vineyard Update

Visual of height development from 2011, 2012, and 2013 created by Mark Gould.

This year we have seen a significant difference in the amount of shoot growth in our Pinot noir vineyards. According to Ken Wright and vineyard manager Mark Gould, this is the most shoot growth they have seen this early in the growing season ever! Mark & Ken have kept close records on what happens in the vineyards from year to year. According to their records for Abbott Claim, on May 18th, 2011 total height was 4 inches, on May 18th, 2012 the total height was 12 inches, but this year on May 18th the shoots measured 22.5 inches! This early development has been a product of the incredible weather we have had this spring, and early bud break.  Ken is predicting that harvest could happen as early as mid-September this year. We are all very excited to see what the rest of this year has in store!

 

How KWC Celebrates the Holidays

After having a spectacular harvest and open house event, Ken Wright Cellars has much to celebrate this holiday season. We kicked off December by hosting a variety of events for Christmas in Carlton. Families enjoyed taking pictures with Santa at Ken Wright Cellars tasting room and donated nearly 350 pounds of food to the Joseph Storehouse. As the festivities continued, we transformed the winery into a sparkling winter wonderland for the
Father Daughter Winter Waltz, complete with a dance floor, chocolate fountains and limo rides between the towns of Yamhill and Carlton.

A few weeks later the winery undergoes another decorating extravaganza for the Carlton Community Christmas Party. In place of the dance floor, Ken Wright brings in plush lazy boy couches, a portable fireplace and a 20 foot long craft table. Families from the local community come together to enjoy delicious food catered by Chemeketa Community College, are serenaded by musical guest Joni Harms and partake in a comical photo booth with RJ studio.

Left: Ivory Middle: Sarah Right: Jourdan

The Carlton Community Christmas Party is a wonderful event that brings our staff and community members together to celebrate one last time before we ring in the New Year and take our two week holiday break.

From our Family to Yours, Happy Holidays!

Capturing Lani’Koa

As many of you know, Ken’s sister in law, Susan Crum, is going into the Falconry
business. This is the best practice for bird control in vineyards. Ken Wright Cellars started using this method for the 2012 harvest, and hopes to use Susan and her bird for upcoming harvests. Susan has provided us with her unique story of how she captured her falcon.

Picture courtesy of Susan Crum

According to Susan, “On Oct. 5th, after three months of trapping attempts, a juvenile female American Kestrel was trapped from a clover field on Yamhill Road, just outside Carlton. I know this female, named Lani’Koa (Hawaiian for “Sky Warrior”) is a brave hunter because I saw her chase off two Harriens from the vicinity of my traps (ball and chain with mice inside) just moments before she was snared. Trapped at a weight of 118 grams (4.16 oz), Lani’ is taming down and starting her training to return to free flight.”

2012 Harvest Letter

Dear Friends,

After thirty-five years of winemaking experience in Oregon and California, I can count the truly great years on three fingers. 1979 in California’s Monterey County, 1990 in the Willamette Valley and, yes, 2012 in the Willamette Valley as well.

We have an amazing team with terrific depth of experience that gives us the ability to produce wine that delivers a very pleasurable bottle from the challenging vintages. But there are years when we simply sit in awe as Mother Nature hands us remarkable fruit that only requires that we respect the gift we have received. 2012 is such a year.

The intensity of color, aroma and flavor is inspiring. The onus has been on us to protect those qualities at all costs. We know how special this vintage is and that this kind of opportunity is rare. My promise to you is that we have cared for the fruit from each of our sites as if this was the last great vintage we would experience. I do of course hope this is not true as I expect several decades more of active winemaking. But you never know. I may be dragged out of the winery by my Red Wing boots at eighty without seeing another year like this.

2012 Futures are now available for purchase, visit http://shop.kenwrightcellars.com/futures-c6.aspx.

The booming propane cannons that are used to scare off the migratory starlings and cedar waxwings can make the valley sound like a war zone. It is exasperating for everyone when a grower forgets to turn them off at nightfall and it happens several times every year. In our hope to be a better neighbor we have turned to falcons for control of predacious birds. It is nothing short of amazing to see flocks of birds vanish when the falcons are in the air. Unlike propane cannons, which are ineffective after a few days, the falcons remain a very real threat. Sister-in-law Susi Crum has jumped into falconry training with both feet and captured a juvenile kestrel early this fall. In a few years, after quite a bit more training, she will be able to work with full size falcons. Go Susi!

Another current topic that has my full attention is the recent creation of a viticulture program at Yamhill-Carlton High School. With the support of the Yamhill Carlton Winegrowers Association, Chemeketa College, the FFA program at YC High School, the principal of the high school and the Yamhill Carlton school board, we were successful this year in establishing a curriculum for the students that gives college credits toward a grape growing degree. It was time for our industry, now mature, to step up and support the young people in our community that wish to pursue a path in agriculture that has been previously unavailable. This program is now real and being taught as of this fall. It will include the planting of a “land lab”, beginning with one acre of Pinot noir on school property which will provide a hands on experience that is rare for a high school student. This is the first program of its type in Oregon, and to my knowledge, the country.

We are offering two new vineyards this year. Bryce Vineyard, planted in the Ribbon Ridge AVA in 1999 by Bryce and Marcia Bagnall, is an exceptional site. We were honored that after Bryce’s passing Marcia approached us about a long term relationship with the vineyard. We established a fifteen year lease and our team now farms Bryce Vineyard. This is the first Ribbon Ridge AVA wine we have produced in many years. We sourced fruit from Beaux Freres from ’91 to ’93, then Mike Etzel realized there simply was not enough profit in growing grapes alone, turned his pig barn into a very nice wine facility and kept his fruit in house. We are pleased that Marcia Bagnall asked us to take over her special five acre site and we are very excited to be working with Ribbon Ridge fruit again.

Sister Susi and her bird loving husband Art (a Delta pilot) purchased property near our home vineyard Savoya several years ago. We were enthusiastic about the potential of the site and entered into a thirty year lease (yikes!) to develop the best part of the land (6.5 acres) for vineyard. They have coined the vineyard Tanager, named after the colorful Western Tanager that inhabits our area for a number of weeks in the spring.

We have heard from so many that you would like to have the opportunity to purchase every vineyard that we offer without the need to purchase a half case of each. Beginning this year you have the option to do exactly that. The “Vineyard Sampler” is two full cases (24 bottles) which will include two bottles of each vineyard site that we produce. A great opportunity for horizontal tastings.

We will be open for tasting of this great vintage on the 23rd and 24th of November from 10 am to 4 pm. We hope to see you here.

Our heartfelt thanks for your continued support of our endeavors.

Best, Ken