Frequently Asked Questions - The Yamhill-Carlton American Viticultural Area The Yamhill-Carlton American Viticultural Area

Frequently Asked Questions

When was the Yamhill-Carlton AVA created?
AVA status was granted in 2004, though first allowed on a label for the 2003 vintage.

Where is the AVA located? 
The AVA is approximately 35 miles, or about a 70-minute drive, southwest of Portland, Oregon. It lies west of Newberg and north of McMinnville.

Why was the Yamhill-Carlton AVA created?
To distinguish fruit grown in the oldest marine sedimentary based soils from the greater Willamette Valley. This contributes to a wine profile that is distinct from neighboring AVAs in a number of important ways.

What characteristics do the wines of the AVA share? How are they different from surrounding AVAs?
These are plummy, black-fruited Pinot Noirs with notes of blackberry and black cherries, framed by minerality reminiscent of pipe tobacco, espresso, clove and dark chocolate, and accented by scents of rose, violet, lavender and forest floor.

A Yamhill-Carlton Pinot is typically lower in acidity, deeper in color, and breadth of mouth feel than that of neighboring regions. The wines have some of the darkest color of all Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs.

What does your motto “Down to Earth” mean?
The motto describes the unassuming nature and cooperative spirit of the people who have lived in this valley since the 1850s. The members of the Yamhill Carlton AVA continue this collegial community-minded spirit. “Down to Earth” also applies to qualities in our wines which are influenced by the mineral elements in our marine sedimentary soils.

What kinds of soils predominate in this AVA?
The original parent material was created by geological plate activity 35-45 million-years ago. The soils that have formed on top of this parent material are a well-drained sandy loam extension of this old seabed.

Why does the AVA have an elevation requirement?
Soils on the valley floor, like much of the Willamette, are far too fertile, frost-prone, clay-laden, and wet. The AVA resides on hillsides between 200 and 1000 feet in elevation, the “sweet spot” for growing premium Pinot Noir.

Why does Pinot noir love Yamhill Carlton?
Temperature, geology, and rainfall combine to create the perfect environment for “world class” Pinot noir. The shallow marine sediments of the AVA encourage early ripening of Pinot Noir. Significant shifts in temperature between summer days and nights encourage thick, flavorful skins, and ripeness with excellent acidity. The Coast Range Mountains provide some shelter from the rains of the Pacific at critical times in the growing season.