Whether you come to explore its dozens of small wineries, picturesque vine-covered hills or charming historic downtown, Carlton is on the “must do” list of visitors to Oregon wine country. What it may lack in square footage, tiny Carlton more than makes up for in true bon vivant style. Known for a downtown that boasts over a dozen wine tasting rooms, Carlton is also home base for the globally respected Yamhill-Carlton American Viticultural Area. In short, it is “Pinot Paradise.”
Since coming in at #1 on Wine Enthusiast’s top 100 wines in the world for 2014, the celebrated Ken Wright Cellars tasting room located in a restored train depot is a must-see. Other highlights include the old Carlton Firehouse – recently renovated into DePonte Cellars Tasting Room and event space, the very fine French restaurant Cuvee, and relaxing and casually refined Horseradish Wine & Cheese Bar. Interesting boutiques, restaurants and many more wine tasting rooms are found along the trim and tidy Main Street. Only in Carlton is it possible to taste wines from every growing region in the state.
Extra libations can be found in the town’s award-winning local micro brews and traditional hard fruit ciders. The well respected Carlton Bakery is known for its decadent pastries that make use of Oregon hazelnuts, fruits and even locally-cured bacon. Its mouth-wateringly perfect baguettes are something to savor.
It’s no surprise that sleeping arrangements in Carlton are equally diverse and well delivered. Overnight visitors delight in the small town’s beautifully restored inns, private cottages, luxury lofts and quintessentially quaint B&Bs. Some accommodations are a short walk from town, and others are surrounded by vineyards and peaceful rolling hills.
Carlton, only three short blocks in length, manages to pack in more gastronomy, oenology and hospitality than most cities ten times its size. Organic cheeses, fresh meats, piquant preserves, creative desserts, and artisan chocolates are all available right on Main. Once a rough-and-tumble logging town, Carlton is now the small but significant epicenter of the North Willamette Valley’s farm and wine scene.