The Wandering Wino Blog

Willamette Valley Carlton Police

When it comes to driving to wine country, it is always important to plan carefully by either a designated driver, spitting, or hiring a professional to ensure safety for all. In the case of bus #8, as part of a scheduled tour for the wine bloggers conference, all concern should have been removed with a professional driver.

Carlton Farm

After driving through what appeared to be fairly rural country of Carlton Oregon on a two lane highway, two police squad cars were stopped in the middle of the road. The police were waving cars one by one to pass, until bus #8 approached. The police man stood in the middle of the road with his hand held out. The bus stopped, the door opened, and on jumps a uniformed officer.

Willametter Valley Carlton Police Chief

He quickly grabbed the bus PA and made an announcement that the bus was involved in a "situation," the bus was being confiscated, and everyone needed to exit immediately. As the joke continued to play out a bit, the bus load was directed down a long dirt path. At the end of the path all were welcomed with a beautiful glass of Alberino at the friendly Carlo & Julian tasting room.

Carlo & Julian Winery

Ahi Tuna

Ahi tuna sashimi with flavorful sauces and Alberino were a warm welcome compared to cold hand-cuffs.

Ahi Tuna

Carlo & Julien Vineyard Walk

Carlo & Julian Oak Tree Group

The group was then guided to the vineyards under an old oak tree where fresh breads, cheese, and Tempranillo were offered. One could not help but notice such unusual tall growing vines and with an abnormal contour in the vineyards. When I inquired the winemaker about the vines, he shared that they were grown this tall style intentionally to prevent sheep from disturbing the fruit.

Carlo & Julian Vineyard

Carlo & Julien Vines

Carlo & Julian Winemaker

Winemaker Carlo & Julien

He then went on to say, "notice no sheep! They are like acrobats," and can still get to the fruit. He also went on to share the vines on the right are the result of deer getting in the vineyard. My first thought was, I wonder how well his Tempranillo would pair with venison......

Carlton Bus 

The group quickly hopped back on the undisturbed bus while the kind police officers blocked traffic to allow us the opportunity to safely depart. Just a short drive away, the bus stopped at Tyrus Evans tasting room that is shared with Ken Wright Cellars

Ken Wright

Ken Wright greeted the group in the converted tasting room that was once a late 1800's train station. Ken gave the group an Oregon geology lesson and how it interpolates into Pinot Noir characteristics. Notice Ken drawing the "treasure map" below of soil to vine relationship.(More on this to come). 

Ken Wright Geology

This single stop with soil insights was the holy grail that many imbibers were seeking on this Willamette Valley wine tour, myself included. I've heard others are still on the search.  

Ken Wright Pinot Noir

Ken Wright Pinot Noir Bottle

Ken Wright Vertical Pinot Noir

Then of course it followed by drinking from three grails of a Pinot Noir vertical and greater insights from Ken. Before leaving, one could not help but notice the most unusual smoking BBQ of cedar planked salmon. We later ate this salmon which to date is the single best salmon I've ever eaten, (better than fresh caught Alaskian King, Coho, Copper River, amongst many others).

Smoked Salmon

Horse Radish

The group was then lead down what appeared to be the main street of Carlton. I shared with others my analogy of this amazing place.

Carlton Sign Building

Carlton is my humble opinion is like Los Olivos (historic Santa Barbara wine region where the movie Andy Griffith was filmed) meets rural Michigan. The wine tasting rooms were a blast from the past, nesseled in charming historic buildings, while still maintaining a very small town feel. The people were absolutly amazing in their hospitable nature and freindliness. We entered into a wine bar that seemed to hold the remainder of the towns wine industry and they gave us an amazing welcome.

Horse Radish Wine pouring 

Carlton Police Mayor

Noble PigCab Franc

Carlton Wine Pour

There were many of the local wineries that had come to this location to pour for us all while we ate a spectacular meal. I was truley honored and humbled to have so many of the locals approach our tables and ask if we needed anything with such a happy and genuine interest. This trip to Carlton-Yamhill was an absolute highlight I'd highly suggest to anyone looking for a great wine trip.  

Alexana Pinot Noir

Carl Giavanti

Much gratitude to our awesome guide Carl Giavanti (Pictured above) (, Carlo & Julian, Ken Wright, the people of Carlton, Horse Radish, and all involved in this well thought out and fun day in wine country.

When I think of America, Chevy truck commercials, or a John Mellencamp music video, Carlton would fit the bill in my estimation for the heartland. Real people producing real wine and serious food. They welcomed us with open (not fire) arms and I'm confident they do with all travelrs.  

Carlton Police Chief

(Pictured above- left to right Kathy Oriet Carlton Mayor, Chad Olsen City Manager, and Kevin Martinez Chief of Police, thanks so much to you all!) 


  • Alina
    Posted Tuesday 25 September 2012 07:22
    The cedar planking like that is a traditional, NW Native American method of cooking salmon. And it does make some damn good salmon when done that way. There's a tourist experience in Seattle called Tillicum Village that has salmon bakes as part of the experience...if you're willing to pay the price for it.
  • Cindy Molchany
    Posted Tuesday 25 September 2012 16:21
    That was such a great experience, and your photos are beautiful!! I'll add this to the WBC12 blog post directory. Cheers!
  • Carl Giavanti
    Posted Tuesday 25 September 2012 17:01
    Shawn: This is masterful photo-based storytelling, and I think this sums up the "Carlton Caper" at WBC12 perfectly. I've only been in Oregon for 7 years and continue to pinch myself at the authenticity of experience everywhere I go. Well done!
  • Jodi
    Posted Tuesday 25 September 2012 17:06
    Great post. I am now hungry (and thirsty). Thanks!
  • Dan J.
    Posted Tuesday 25 September 2012 18:27
    Shawn, thanks for taking the time to put together such wonderful photos! This was a great write up about that evening.
  • cathy @ Noble Pig
    Posted Friday 28 September 2012 00:53
    Such a great wrap-up, come back and visit any time!!
  • Brad salter
    Posted Wednesday 20 March 2013 19:38
    that is a awesome story. we sure do have great officers in carlton. that wouldve been a great experence

Comments are closed.