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article imageWine Country Oregon offers alternative to Napa Valley Special

By Carol Forsloff     Aug 2, 2013 in Lifestyle
When most people think about wine in the United States, they associate it with Napa Valley in California. But Oregon is making its own waves in wine at the many wine tasting stores and restaurants in the McMinnville – Carlton, Oregon region.
Main Street USA, the colloquial expression for the best of small town Americana, might just as well have Carlton as its representative image, with its cluster of shops that nestle together, a small city park and benches placed outside shops so people can sit and visit on a warm, sunny afternoon. Residents acknowledge the town has that relaxing look and feel of a small town of a few thousand people, representing much of what some folks might identify as the American experience, including an old swimming pool in the park on the edge of town that brings memories and moments of reflection.
But it’s the wine that makes Carlton stand out, with its more than 20 wine tasting facilities, many of which line the downtown main street where restaurants, gift shops, art galleries, and even a jam tasting facility lure visitors to stop, shop and sip.
Jean Driscoll is one of the wine country’s spokespeople, as her Wildaire Cellars sports some of the fine wines in a tasting room on one corner of Carlton’s main thoroughfare. And she enthusiastically maintains that Carlton is that special small town that offers quality living and quality wine as well.
Driscoll offered her observation about what makes Carlton special created by a visionary businessman, Ken Wright. He had a dream for the town and “brought it to new life”, exclaims Driscoll, with her voice filled with pride for what she considers a thriving and welcoming community.
Carlton was once a logging town, just seven miles from McMinnville, Oregon, home of the famous Spruce Goose, of Howard Hughes fame; but when the spotted owl controversy developed, pitting environmentalists and loggers against each other, much of the logging shut down. In its place came the wines and Ken Wright. Now Wright’s plan is to establish a bicycling route linking Carlton to other towns, so that visitors and residents can enjoy the outdoor, easy style of transportation and living that Carlton residents favor.
“Wright is responsible for much of what has happened, as the town has been developing and people are really proud to live her and call this town home,” Driscoll observed. Then she offered the taste of the sublime in the wine of various varieties that lined the shelves of her shop, as her visitors happily sampled the best of her brews, then bought what they thought the best in one of Oregon wine country towns.
More about Wine, Oregon, Napa valley, McMinnville, Oregon wine
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