WillaKenzie Estate

Located within an hour’s drive of Portland, Oregon, WillaKenzie Estate is both a pioneer in sustainability and a preeminent Pinot Noir producer. Established in 1991 by Bernard Lacroute, a native Burgundian, the estate takes its name from the Willakenzie Estate soils, or ancient marine sediment, on which the vines are planted. Winemaker Erik Kramer creates multiple, single-vineyard expressions of Pinot Noir that reflect the diverse terroir of this 420-acre estate. In addition to complex, fragrant, full-bodied Pinot Noirs, WillaKenzie Estate produces Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, and two noteworthy red wines: Pinot Meunier and Gamay Noir.

WillaKenzie vineyard

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A Pioneer in Sustainability.

WillaKenzie Estate was the first LIVE-certified winery in the Northwest. Today, its sustainably farmed vineyard and gravity-flow winery, located in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, are both LIVE-certified. No pesticides or synthetic fertilizers are used in the vineyard, earning the estate both the Pacific Northwest LIVE-Certified Sustainable and Salmon-Safe credentials. A large solar array supplies half of the winery’s energy needs, and the winery recycles carbon dioxide from its fermenting wines. Biodiversity is cherished here, with less than a third of the estate planted to vine, while the remainder holds a Douglas fir tree forest and natural pasture on which a herd of 40 Longhorn cattle make their home. The signature of WillaKenzie Estate is its range of benches, ridgelines, elevations, slopes, exposures, and clonal plantings, making WillaKenzie one of the most diverse estates in the Willamette Valley.

WillaKenzie wine on table with food

From Hydrogeology to Oenology.

You might say Erik Kramer has always fostered a curiosity for what lies beneath the surface. A former hydrogeologist in the petrochemical industry, Erik Kramer turned his passion for science and fine wine into a winemaking career. After spending several seasons in Washington as a harvest cellar worker, he earned a postgraduate degree in viticulture and oenology at Lincoln University in New Zealand and crafted wine there until moving to the Willamette Valley to focus on cool-climate winemaking. He spent 13 years working for highly-regarded wineries, such as Domaine Serene and Adelsheim Vineyard, before joining WillaKenzie in 2017. Erik’s winemaking philosophy begins in the vineyard with the pursuit to understand each individual block. He uses small-lot fermentations, gentle handling of the grapes via the gravity-flow winery, and soft punch downs to elicit the maximum expression of the fruit. Let’s just say that his reputation for making wines of finesse and balance is rock solid.

Erik Kramer, winemaker