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The Carlton Winemakers Studio, located in Carlton, Oregon
The Carlton Winemakers Studio (CWS) is an innovative, "green" cooperative winemaking facility that is 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 historic Carlton has been home to some of the region's most exciting producers since 2002.

"We wanted to take advantage of the opportunities building green presents," said Hamacher. "Green buildings take a longer view of costs and quality to create healthy, resource-efficient developments. Our winery is the counterpoint to traditional thinking by taking the stance that economics, environment and functionality can be a good match."

The production efficiency of the design is what allows the cooperative to exist. Most wineries 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. "We've been able to process 130 tons and be home to catch the 11 o'clock news! We're increasing quality at the same time."

"By having access to a top-notch winery, we can produce  wines with an economic efficiency of production, in a synergistic environment with other great winemakers, resulting in world-class wines. This is the greatest 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." said Hamacher.

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The Winery: A Guided Tour

Goals for The Studio were to maximize both quality and speed of production while minimizing costs

The design goals for The Studio were to maximize both quality and speed of production while minimizing financial and environmental costs. What resulted was an incredibly efficient, functional winery that raises quality while reducing the energy, chemical and water use of the facility.

Sorting Line / Destemmer
The Processing Line is the absolute key to allowing multiple wineries work side by side during harvest, without having to wait for long periods of time for equipment that is in high demand. The line allows what is traditionally a slow, "batch" system to operate as a fluid, "continuous flow" system. Grapes are delivered by one of the hydraulic lifters into hoppers with pneumatic doors that control the flow onto a transport table. From there, the grapes fall onto an "off center gyro" shaking table which spreads the grape clusters out into a single layer making inspection and sorting feasible. Leaves and debris are removed, as are unripened grape clusters.

From the table, the fruit falls into the destemmer and from there, it falls into one of two shutes that direct the grapes to the fermentation tanks waiting below. These tanks are then moved into place in the winery to begin fermentation.

Our fermenters range in size from ¾ ton up to 4 ton. All fermenters are mobile to allow flexibility of space. From the destemmer, the fermenters are lifted up to the upper level of the winery. Each tank is adaptable to heating and cooling through "plug-ins" along the walls of the winery.

The white wines are fermented in larger stainless steel tanks on both the upper and lower levels of the winery.

We rely on natural, or "native," yeast to ferment the grapes, which can take up to 8-14 days. During that time, the tanks are punched down several times a day to keep the solids (cap) mixed into the juice, a manual procedure to keep the temperature even throughout the tank.

Gravity Moves Wine to Barrel
After fermentation, wine is drained, by gravity, through pipes in the floor to barrels on the lower level, where they will spend the next year or more aging. This method, instead of pumping, increases quality and yield while reducing man-hours and equipment.

Wines are periodically racked to help clarify the wine. This process, like decanting, removes sediment (yeast cells and pulp) from the wine.

Barrel Rooms
Each of the separate "rooms" behind the glass doors at The Studio is a legally bonded, individual winery. By federal law, each winery must be separated by an eight foot wall and have a lockable entrance. The cloth panels separating the wineries are retired sails from large racing sailboats, reconfigured for our needs.

The Studio's bottling room is located under the sorting line. It is one of the more mechanized operations in our process. Hamacher Wines are generally bottled and labeled in the late spring, after our wines have aged for over a year in barrels. From there, the finished cases are delivered to our bonded warehouse for storage and shipping.

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Green Building Facts

  • Below foundation water capture and reuse
  • North roof water capture and reuse
  • Gravity usable for outside irrigation water (collected)
  • High efficiency process systems: mobile heating (>50% piping decrease)
  • Clear roofing materials
  • Day lighting, windows, doors, hallway
  • Night air cooling / CO2 exhausting
  • Communal office space
  • Coal byproduct (fly-ash) / concrete mix
  • Recycled mats, paint, office desk materials, roofing metal, carpet
  • Non-conventional material uses: sails-walls, curtains, shade
  • Reused: counter tops (SS & acid resistant composite), lights, concrete, sinks, sails
  • Sustainable building materials: wheat board, slash OSB
  • Dynamic flow air pocket walls
  • Exterior insulation
  • Grass pave parking lot
  • Earth berm / below grade walls for natural cooling

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