JUST WHEN WE THOUGHT WE’VE SEEN EVERYTHING - The Yamhill-Carlton American Viticultural Area The Yamhill-Carlton American Viticultural Area


“Who knows what will happen?” said Trudy Kramer, the President and co-owner of Kramer Vineyards in the northwest part of our AVA. Trudy has been in the wine business with her husband, and now with daughter Kim, for over 35 years, and she could have been talking about our favorite annual subject, the state of the vineyards and how the grapes are developing. But this year comes a curveball to our region that we can safely say has never happened in the 50-plus year history of the Oregon wine industry.

Aerial view over Kramer winery and estate vineyard, Yamhill-Carltson AVA, Willamette Valley, Oregon

For about two full minutes on the morning of August 21st, the sun that has been shining almost nonstop over western Oregon since about the middle of June will be totally eclipsed. As in blocked, shuttered, covered over. Much of our AVA lies in the swath of total eclipse that will sweep across the continental U.S.A. that day, the first time since June 8, 1918 that that particular celestial event has happened here, and also the first total solar eclipse anywhere in the U.S. since 1979. Kramer Vineyards lies in the zone just to the north of totality, so Trudy is quick to point out that her land will receive about 99.6% of the full eclipse experience. Which, let’s face it, is still pretty incredible and rare.

“Who knows what will happen” also describes the scene that we expect to unfold across the Willamette Valley that weekend, as hundreds of thousands of people from Portland and from, well, everywhere else, pour into the region to experience this once-in-a-lifetime celestial event. “We’ll see what happens,” said Trudy. “We want to make it manageable.”

For their part, Kramer is offering wine club members and other guests the rare opportunity to camp on their vineyards the night before, pitching a tent, rolling up an RV or camper, or just laying a sleeping bag down between rows of grapes in order to be ready for the morning event, which will occur at about 10:15 a.m. A catered brunch with a mimosa bar will follow, and a band will play live music on the Kramer patio. Reservations are a must, particularly for campers and RVs. “We’ll limit it to fifty or sixty people,” added Trudy, in order to not overwhelm facilities that include the family’s and winery’s restrooms.

Several of our AVA wineries are also offering eclipse events. At Elk Cove Vineyards there will be chamber music paired with wine tastings on the night before the eclipse as the Willamette Valley Chamber Music Festival comes to the Gaston, Oregon winery. A brunch at Elk Cove’s sister winery, Pike Road Wines in Carlton, highlights eclipse day, with views of the event from the Pike Road patio. Admission includes a glass of sparkling wine and juices to make mimosas. The brunch ticket also includes special viewing glasses that are vital for safely watching the eclipse.

A French-inspired brunch is also in the plans for Laurel Ridge Winery, where tickets include unlimited access to a mimosa bar, a full brunch and solar eclipse-viewing glasses. Nearby, on Mineral Springs Road, Anne Amie Vineyards invites guests to experience the eclipse from their beautiful lawns with a fully stocked picnic basket that includes a bottle of wine, cheese and salami.

MonksGate Vineyard will also invite guests to the top of their vineyard to watch the sun go away, followed by a brunch in the vineyard, an art show at the winery by Yamhill-Carlton High School students, and, of course, plenty of wine.

We’re pretty sure that “plenty of wine” will be on the minds of the throngs of visitors who find themselves in the valley after the two-minute eclipse is over, with a party atmosphere that also may be unlike anything previously witnessed in these parts. Even wineries that aren’t holding specific eclipse events will welcome visitors and are bracing themselves for epic turnouts. Hotels and vacation rental properties have been sold out for months, and campgrounds will be maxed out.

Check winery websites for prices and reservations. And plan to get here early and stay late as our main thoroughfares strain to accommodate the traffic. As Trudy put it, “Who knows what will happen?” when the eclipse comes to our little corner of Oregon.

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