When you hear the name, Ken Wright, what wine do you associate it with? For years when we heard Ken Wright we thought, “Pinot Noir.” Then we  came across his Chardonnay from Celilo Vineyard in Washington. The biggest surprise of all came for us a year ago. We were in Carlton, Oregon looking for Ken Wright Cellars. In that search, we came across a winery called Tyrus Evan. Until we ran into Ken in the tasting room, little did we know he is also the owner/winemaker of this winery focusing on warm-weather grapes. Why are we writing about an Oregon winemaker? He sources some of his grapes for the Tyrus Evan label from Washington vineyards including Pepper Bridge and Seven Hills in Walla Walla, and Ciel du Cheval in Red Mountain. The wines produced from these Washington grapes include Syrah and Claret.

Ken Wright

The Tyrus Evan 2006 Ciel du Cheval Claret is a beautiful ruby red, and offers bright fruit on the nose. Flavors of plums and cherry cola on the palate are followed by velvety tannins. We enjoy this wine paired with pesto risotto. It generally retails for $36.

The  Claret  won us over, and on that initial visit to the tasting room, we signed up for the wine club and headed home with our first selection.

Barrel Tasting

Barrel Room at Tyrus Evan

As wine club members, we recently attended the winery’s first private wine club event. Or as I like to call it, one of the best days ever. We started out in the vineyard with Ken providing a great presentation discussing geology and viticulture, and paying homage to the grape growers who provide him with the fruit for his craft.

Then, we went back to the winery for a barrel tasting. We tasted each of the varietals that will eventually be blended into the next vintage of the Ciel du Cheval Claret. It will be interesting to see if the bright blackberries on the nose of the Cabernet Franc in the barrel will be noticeable in that release. Or perhaps the dried fruits we noticed on the palate of the Petit Verdot will stand out. We are eager to taste it and find out!

The “delicious bites” we were told we’d be served turned out to be a mountain of cheeses, fruits, nuts, and accompaniments followed by a full on lunch spread featuring Moroccan chicken and couscous. Served with the latest releases from the winery, of course. Ken Wright and his Tasting Room Manager, Carrie Simonson, know how to throw one heck of a party – and set a great example for how to add value through a wine club.

The fun didn’t end there. After lunch, we were invited to visit the tasting room, also know as “The Depot,” for tastes of Ken Wright Cellars Pinot Noir, and to purchase any additional Tyrus Evan wine….at a discount. We came home with a case.