K & M

K & M Ken Morrison and Mauro HernandezK & M Wines in Carlton, Oregon offers small production, food-friendly, wallet-friendly and tasty wines from grapes planted at their Alchemy Vineyard in Willamette Valley and others in Oregon and Washington state. Their delicious wines cost $25-$35, except Alchemy Reserve Pinot Noir is $40. This is a steal by Oregon standards. During our summer visit, co-owner and winemaker Ken Morrison poured seven great wines for us in his tasting room. Read on for details.

Our Introduction to K & M Wines

Our history with K & M Wines goes back almost a decade. Right after the 2012 Wine Media Conference in Portland, we participated in a post-conference, one-day blitz of Carlton wineries. That’s when we first met Ken Morrison and Mauro Hernandez at K & M Wines. We enjoyed Ken’s portfolio of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. In particular, K & M 2010 Chardonnay and 2009 Cuvée stood out.

Subsequently, we returned to Carlton in 2013 for a long weekend. Of course, we stopped by to see Ken and Mauro again (pictured above in 2013). Likewise, we visited this year, and were delighted to discover that K & M’s tasting room has a speakeasy vibe. As well, Ken’s lineup now includes Viognier, Rosé, Cabernet Franc, a Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend, and GSM. Ken continues to be an excellent host, and the tasting room also features locally handcrafted goods these days.

K & M Vineyards

In 2006, Ken and Mauro purchased the three-acre Alchemy vineyard, with plantings that go back to 1983. The name Alchemy, which means transformative change, reflects the transformation of a vineyard as well as their lifestyle change of moving from city to country.

The vineyard grows Pinot Noir clones Pommard and Wädenswil and a Dijon clone of Chardonnay. Next, Ken says they cleared 1.5 more acres of blackberries and scrub in 2014, and then planted a mix of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in 2019.

In addition, you’ll find five miniature Babydoll and Southdown sheep in the vineyard. For example, Vinnie, Houdini, The Assistant, Wallace and Grommit eat most of the weeds, assist with grape sucker removal and keep the grass mowed. Very helpful indeed!

Moreover, Ken and Mauro host an annual Alchemist club dinner, set in the vines.

K & M Wines

K&M Lineup 2021During our visit, Ken poured seven wines for us in his tasting room, which doubles as a speakeasy-vibe wine lounge with live music on Saturdays. Similarly, the winery just introduced Friday NIght Flights on the first Friday of each month. As well, you can browse through a Milltown Mercantile section for handcrafted goods from 15 local artists. We noticed some beautiful jewelry, pottery, woven textiles and an expanded pantry of delicacies.

Destiny Ridge Vigonier 2019 ($28)

K & M 2019 Destiny Ridge ViognierWe visited Carlton in the middle of the summer heat wave, and therefore welcomed this refreshing Viognier as the first pour after being outside in the blazing sun. Apples, honeysuckle, orange blossoms and notes of clove entice the palate in this Viognier, sourced from our friend Jarrod Boyle’s Destiny Ridge Vineyard. This white wine features the classic Viognier floral aromas, and pairs with spicy foods.

Rosé of Pinot Noir 2020 ($25); Rubis Syrah Rosé 2020 ($25)K & M Roses of Pinot Noir and Syrah 2020

K & M offers two Rosés at the same price point. The Rosé of Pinot Noir is their go-to wine, which can be enjoyed all year. Aromas of peonies lead into fresh flavors of strawberries and nectarines. Meanwhile, Rubis is K & M’s first Rosé of Syrah, and Ken says they are thrilled with it. We  are too. We adored its peach and cherry flavors, and brought some home with us. Rubis has more body and 13.2% alcohol, while Rosé of Pinot Noir is lighter in color and only 12.2%.

Alchemy Cuvée Pinot Noir 2018 ($25)

2018 Oregon Pinot Noir Alchemy CuveeAs mentioned, we first tasted Ken’s 2009 Cuvée Pinot Noir and loved it. So we were not surprised to favor the 2018 vintage too. (As you can see in the photo, Ken came over when he heard us exclaiming about it.) The Cuvée blends Pinot Noir from two vineyards, Alchemy and Beacon Hill. Full-bodied, smooth and polished, this wine is chock full of notes of red and black fruits and peppercorn. This is a perfect wine to serve with turkey at your Thanksgiving feast.

Duo 2019 ($35)

2019 DuoThe Duo 2019 is a 50%-50% split of Cabernet Sauvignon and  Merlot grapes from Horse Heaven Hills in Washington’s Columbia Valley. Merlot brings the body and texture to the Cabernet Sauvignon backbone in this complex, lively Bordeaux-style blend. The result is a smooth, silky wine with notes of black and red fruit, particularly Oregon’s marionberry, licorice and pepper. Full-bodied, this red wine complements steak, grilled meat and a variety of rich dishes.

Treble GSM 2019 ($35)

K & M’s Treble is a GSM blend of 40% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 20% Mourvedre, also from Horse Heaven Hills in Washington’s Columbia Valley. In 2017, Ken and Mauro travelled to the Languedoc region of France, which inspired this big, fruity Rhône-style blend. Serve GSM with rib-eye steak, other grilled meats, roasted chicken and dishes with mushrooms, olives, red pepper and Mediterranean spices.

Destiny Ridge Cabernet Franc 2018 ($35)

2018 Destiny Ridge Cab FrancWe are major fans of 100% Cabernet Franc, particularly from Destiny Ridge Vineyard. This vintage did not disappoint. In fact, we brought some home with us. Aromatics of raspberries, plums, blueberries and blackberries mirror the flavors. Pair this outstanding Cab Franc with burgers, meat tenderloin, stew, spaghetti and meatballs, or lasagna. Or simply sip it with a plate of pears, blue cheese and toasted walnuts. Delicious!

Summary: K & M Wines

In conclusion, K & M Wines are flavorful, fun, food-friendly and wallet-friendly. Moreover, they generate positive consumer reviews for their charming, warm tasting room and hospitality, in addition to their solid wines. We recommend K & M Wines, and encourage you to visit Carlton the next time you are in Oregon wine country. But if you aren’t traveling much these days, you can still purchase their wines online.

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Cheers!
Margot and Dave

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About Margot

Margot has been writing about wine since 1997 at KOIN-TV in Portland, Oregon; ten years later, she created this blog. Write for Wine focuses on the fine wines of Washington state, with additional posts about Oregon, B.C., California, ANZ, France, Italy, Spain and more. A former national journalist in Canada and the U.S., Margot has been a Washington wine enthusiast since moving to Seattle in 1999. Her motto: “It’s wine o’clock somewhere.”