Winemaker, author to present history of the vineyards

Ken and Karen WrightAward-winning winemaker Ken Wright and McMinnville author Jim Gullo will present “History of the Vineyards,” a history of some of Oregon’s top vineyards, Monday, May 1, at 7:30 p.m. in Ice Auditorium in Melrose Hall at Linfield College.

The talk grows out of a series of reports that Wright, owner of Ken Wright Cellars pictured left with wife Karen, commissioned Gullo, pictured below, to undertake that explore the histories and land usages of 13 Willamette Valley vineyard properties Wright farms and/or sources for his award-winning lineup of Pinot Noir wines. Beginning in 2015, Gullo has researched and written stories about properties like the Freedom Hill Vineyard, Canary Hill Vineyard and others that Wright sources. The properties lie in several Oregon AVAs, including the Yamhill-Carlton, Ribbon Ridge, Dundee Hills and Eola-Amity Hills.

Jim Gullo, photo by John ValsEmerging from the vineyard histories is a rich tapestry of the people and events who shaped Oregon lands long before the wine industry began to take hold over the last 50 years. Farmers, blacksmiths, judges, pioneers, Civil War and Indian War heroes, and the first flock of sheep ever to be driven across the plains to the Oregon Territories all wound up, at one time or another, on Willamette Valley lands that today produce some of the finest wine grapes in the world. The stories were published on the Ken Wright Cellars blog ( and were the centerpieces of a marketing campaign.

“The history of these properties is rich and varied, and Jim did a fantastic job rooting out the people and stories that bring these properties to life,” said Wright.

Wright moved to Oregon and founded Panther Creek Cellars in 1986, then established Ken Wright Cellars in 1994 in Carlton. His 2012 Abbott Claim Vineyard Pinot Noir was named the top wine in the world for 2014 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

Gullo is a McMinnville author and journalist whose articles about wine, travel and regional subjects appear in the Oregon Wine Press, Alaska Airlines Magazine, Portland Monthly and the Horizon Airlines Magazine. He has written ten books including “Trading Manny” and “The Comedy Keeper.”

The talk, part of the Linfield College Wine Lecture Series, is free and open to the public. For more information, call 503-883-2766.