Frugal Wine Gal: Ken Wright Cellars


As a frugal wine buyer I hardly ever feel limited in my options of wines to buy. In fact, every time I go to pick out a bottle, I usually end up with too many! However, one wine I’ve been dying to try is a Pinot Noir produced by Ken Wright Cellars. His wines are above my budget enough that I’ve been saving it for a special occasion. That is, until now.

Ken Wright Cellars is well known for producing high quality pinot noir, right in the heart of the Willamette Valley. Ken Wright himself is a staple in the community in Carlton, Oregon and has had his beautiful tasting room located there since 1994. He was a major proponent for the creation of the northern Willamette Valley AVAs (American Viticulture Area), and even wrote the proposition for the Yamhill-Carlton AVA to be made. His emphasis on terroir creates wines that emphasize the flavors and characteristics of the many vineyards he works with.

The old Carlton depot. It is now is Ken Wright Cellars tasting room. (Photo Credit:Keith Ewing)


This producer places high emphasis on the health of the soil and vines he works with. Healthy soils and vines are known to produce higher quality wines overall. The soils in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA are perfect for creating amazing Pinot Noir. Generally Pinots from this area are richer, darker in hue, and have less acidity than other regions. Although, it is to be said that each vineyard (even each block in a vineyard!) will have their own characteristics. Yamhill-Carlton is an excellent destination for those looking for some phenomenal, well balanced Pinot Noir.

I had been dying to try a Ken Wright Pinot Noir for ages. Each time I would walk by one of their beautiful bottles at my local market I would eye it and scheme of the time I could pick myself up a bottle. That was until my recent trip to Sundance Wine Cellars. I was picking up a bottle or two for Valentines day and spotted a Ken Wright Cellars Pinot Noir a little above my usual $20 price range. My heart leapt, and of course I had to get it! This particular Pinot was the 2013 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, a blend of Pinot grapes from 5 different vineyards. An Oregon Pinot at this price range, and from an amazing producer – I got quite a deal.


This bottle from start to finish was perfect. It had a rich, luscious color of deep red. The nose had scents of cocoa, and blueberries. It had a slight acidity on the end but had the perfect velvety smooth mouthfeel. Flavors of dark berries like blackberries and currants popped out at me, and notes of vanilla and oak lingered. Each sip of this wine was impeccable. I even managed to save some for the next day, and it tasted even better!

My advice to you is, don’t walk but run to get this wine. I was so sad when I poured that last glass out of the bottle that I wanted to get up right then and pick up another! You can find this wine for $25 – $28, and it may be a pinch above our budget but it is totally worth it. Cheers!




Wine lover and student. I love finding great wines at fantastic prices that are affordable for anyone and everyone. Both Oregon and Washington have some amazing options and I look forward to sharing them with everyone. Cheers!

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