Wines Launches Nation's
Carlton Winemakers Studio
The Carlton Winemakers Studio is an innovative, "green" cooperative winemaking facility that promises to be an archetype for Oregon's wine industry, and the first of its kind built from the ground up in the nation. The 15,000-square-foot gravity flow winery, located on two acres in Carlton, Oregon, opened in August 2002.
The Carlton Winemakers Studio is a partnership between Eric Hamacher his wife, Luisa Ponzi of Ponzi Vineyards, and Ned and Kirsten Lumpkin of Lumpkin Construction in Seattle and Lazy River Vineyard in Yamhill, OR. Their vision was to build a facility that is sustainable or "green," following the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System from the U.S. Green Building Council. This system employs accepted energy and environmental principles and strikes a balance between known effective practices and emerging concepts, utilizing recycled and reusable materials and efficient energy saving systems. In the end, the cost of running the facility will be much less expensive than a non-green building.
The Studio was specifically designed and built to house multiple, small, premium wine producers.
It is home to eight different wineries: Hamacher Wines, Andrew Rich Wines, Boedecker Cellars, Bryce Vineyard, Domaine Meriwether, Dominio, Penner-Ash Wine Cellars and Ribbon Ridge Vineyard. While each winery operates independent of the other, with separate cellars and staff, all benefit economically from top-of-the-line equipment designed to allow the winemakers to make their wines under the best possible conditions.
"The idea is to create a space where small wine producers can come together under one roof and have access to a state-of-the-art, gravity-driven, incredibly efficient facility, both for the production and promotion of ultra premium wines, without the extremely high up-front cost of building individual production facilities," says Hamacher.
We wanted to take advantage of the opportunities building green presents," explained Eric. "Green buildings take a longer view of costs and quality to create healthy, resource-efficient developments. Our winery promises to be the counterpoint to traditional thinking by taking the stance that economics, the environment and functionality can be a good match."
The "green" concepts incorporated in The Studio are relatively simple, but, in aggregate, highly effective. Eric's hope is that visitors to the facility might leave having recognized "green" concepts they can incorporate into their own activities, perhaps to save money on cooling or improve the efficiency of their houses or businesses.
"People who visit the winery are there for the wine, but get an introduction to green building. They tell their architects about easy-to-implement green ideas they saw at the winery, and incorporate them in their own facilities," Eric says. The simple concepts used make that possible.
The production efficiency of the design is what allows the cooperative to exist. Most facilities of this size (15,000 cases) may be able to process 30 tons of fruit on a "maximum" day, running into early hours of the next morning.
"For us," explains Eric, "we should be able to process 130 tons and be home to catch the 11 o'clock news. And we're increasing quality at the same time. All of the things we are doing to change from a batch system to a continuous flow system also are things that improve quality."
By having "access to the greatest winery in the world, we can produce the best quality wine economically," says Eric. "This is the best economic setup I could possibly be in. I don't have to raise the bottle price to have access to great equipment or increase production to support a big infrastructure."
So, why is all of this good for Hamacher wines? Access to a "top-notch" facility, with economic efficiency of production, in a synergistic environment with other great winemakers, will result in world-class wines at less than world-class prices.