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Tuesday, May. 04, 2010

Changes ahead for Carlton Winemakers Studio

CARLTON, Ore. — Last week, the Carlton Winemakers Studio announced that Robert and Ellen Brittan are taking over for Eric Hamacher as managers of the famed cooperative.

Robert Brittan, former winemaker at Stag's Leap Winery in Napa, Calif., will run the production facility. Ellen, his wife, serves as general manager. Hamacher, his wife, Luisa Ponzi, and Ned Lumpkin of Lazy River Vineyards continue to share ownership of CWS, the state-of-the-art facility that established the co-op trend in the Northwest when it was built in 2002.

"The partners will function as a board of directors and I will report in to them on the business results," Ellen Brittan told Wine Press Northwest on Monday. "Robert is lending his expertise in winery operations to improve the efficiency and logistics on the production side, working closely with our new cellarmaster and facilities manager, JP Pierce."

Lumpkin said in a news release, “Ellen and Robert are very accomplished wine professionals who bring a fresh perspective and great ideas to what we believe is one of the best places in the Willamette Valley to make and sell wine. They are implementing new processes based on their years of experience. These industry best practices, along with some excellent additions to our staff, are helping CWS to reach its full potential both on the production as well as the sales side of the business.”

Robert Brittan, a product of Oregon State University, will continue to make wine for Ayoub Vineyard and Winderlea Vineyards & Winery while building the brand for their young Brittan Vineyards label, which is made from 20 acres of estate Syrah and Pinot Noir in the McMinnville AVA. The Brittans purchased the 128-acre parcel in 2004 after Robert left Stag's Leap, where he worked for 16 years.

"I will continue to manage the sales and marketing side of Brittan Vineyards, but as a small brand this does not require my full time right now," said Ellen, a Seattle native and University of Washington graduate. "We made 1,100 cases for 2007, down to 650 cases for 2008 due to much lower yields."

The Cartlon Winemakers Studio helped launch wineries as such Dominio IV, Penner-Ash, Scott Paul and Soter. The current lineup of CWS wineries includes Andrew Rich Vintner, Ayoub, Brittan, Hamacher, Lazy River, Montebruno, Retour Wine Company and Wahle Vineyards & Cellars. Those wines are available at the CWS Tasting Room, which is managed by Jeff Woodard.