An Extra Special Visit to Lemelson Vineyards

Time for a new post! Things got so busy with work and school that I ended up putting the blog on hold. Then life changed pretty significantly (more on that in another post) and I find myself with more time on my hands and the ability to write more again.

Yesterday, I found myself in the lucky situation to be invited to a very special wine tasting at Lemelson Vineyards near Carlton by my former colleague and Director of Domestic Wine for, Chimo Boehm and his lovely wife Autumn. Lucky, because when this guy shows up, you get a table set up in the winery’s fermentation hall with a view of the “Enterprise”, their mobile sorting platform that sits 14 feet high and well above the big stainless steel tanks, and none other than Lemelson’s National Sales Manager, Rebecca Oliver hangs out with you and tells you Lemelson’s story. Also, special shoutout to the tasting room manager, Josey Harney, who poured our wine.

The Enterprise (picture from a previous visit)

I have been to Lemelson a couple of times. As most wineries in the region they produce mostly Pinot Noir or as Rebecca stated, “We’re a Pinot Noir winery with some white wines.” Lemelson is nestled into the gentle sloped hills outside of Carlton and is a winery that use a gentle gravity-flow process “which help preserve the unique flavor profiles produced in the vineyards”.

Although this was not my first visit, it was definitely my first time hearing about Eric Lemelson, who is actually an environmental lawyer and climate change activist with a passion for Pinot Noir and sustainability in the winery. I also had no idea that Lemelson’s father, Jerome was a famous U.S. inventor (ignorance is bliss) holding many (over 600!), and at some point the most patents in the United States, or that his mother Dorothy served as the co-founder and president of the Lemelson Foundation, an organization focused on improving lives through invention. The website states, “Dolly’s leadership of the Foundation reflected her commitment to helping people — especially those from underrepresented groups — meet their full potential and feel the satisfaction of making the world a better place.” Though this was only one of many accomplishments of this amazing woman. Click the highlighted text for much more information about her.

Rebecca took us on a tour of the premises from the fermentation hall, down into the barrel rooms, where we learned, glass of Pinot in hand, all about how the gravity-flow process works, and (I’m finding this mind-boggling) how these barrels are all having to get stacked on top of each other manually, because no forklift can be driven into the building, much less downstairs into the barrel rooms.

One of the barrel rooms. One barrel costs about $2,000.

What about the wine though!? There is a reason Lemelson’s wines are getting high scores by reviewers like James Suckling. Even as someone who is experiencing a little bit of Pinot Noir fatigue, I enjoyed sipping these wines and experience their subtle differences from lighter, higher acidity to the more medium-bodied ones like the Stermer Vineyard Pinot Noir. See below for my two favorites!

2021 Pinot Noir Rosé
“The grapes were whole-cluster pressed, resulting in a beautiful Provence-style Rosé. Light in color, big in flavor. The aromatics are bursting with fruit – peach, nectarine, pineapple, cherry, and rose petals greet you. This Rosé has lovely texture with mouth-watering acidity making it a wonderful complement to food, but equally enjoyable on its own. As always, best enjoyed with good friends.” -Winemaker Tasting Note

2018 Stermer Vineyard Pinot Noir (93 points, James Suckling, 91 points Wine Enthusiast)
“Stermer Vineyard has been farmed organically since being planted in 1997.  The nose of the 2018 Stermer displays Italian plum and black cherry fruit accented by notes of lavender, anise, and peppercorn spice. The palate is medium-bodied, textured, and round.  The finish is long and marked by sweet fruit and milk chocolate flavors.” -Winemaker Tasting Note

Lemelson is open daily from 11am to 4pm and while reservations are strongly encouraged, they will accept walk-ins as well. They have a lovely little tasting room but have outdoor seating for anyone uncomfortable being indoors right now. Of course, you can also purchase your Lemelson wines at retailers, though I highly recommend a visit if you get a chance. Combine it with a visit to Carlton, “A Great Little Town” and the “Wine Capital of Oregon”.

Thank you, Rebecca and Josey, for making this experience absolutely delightful.

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