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Abbey Road Farm’s new tasting room nestles under towering oaks on the sprawling property; guests can taste a number of brands inside. ##Photo by Kathryn Elsesser
The silo suites glow from the inside as the sun sets at Abbey Road Farm. ##Photo by Kathryn Elsesser

A Rural Oasis

Abbey Road adds wine to bustling estate

By Jade Helm

We’re not gonna do anything normal here,” grins Jeffrey Matthews, the direct-to-consumer manager at Abbey Road Farm’s newly opened tasting room outside Carlton.

He wasn’t lying. Matthews may have been referring only to the assortment of wines, but a turn into the drive of the rural oasis and you realize extraordinary is the theme. During a short stay, I slept in a luxury silo, played with farm animals and delighted in a gourmet breakfast while listening to Willie Nelson on vinyl.

Golden Girls Tasting

Farm decor permeates the tasting room inside the former horse arena, with views of the outdoors and paintings of nearby animals lining the walls — and the bottles. On the bar sits a lineup of whimsical labels featuring portraits of Tootsie the Rooster and Snowball the perturbed-looking Alpaca. Another series of wines show paintings of the farm’s Nigerian dwarf goats, each named for a Golden Girl character, spelled out on the front of the bottle.

Abbey Road Farm owners Daniel and Sandra Wilkens planned the winery facility as a co-op producing a number of brands. James Rahn oversees all wine operations with Luke Wylde as associate winemaker. Labels include Abbey Road Farm, Stedt, James Rahn Wine Co. and Statera Cellars.

Abbey Road Farm’s winemaking team: James Rahn (right) and Luke Wylde. ##Photo by Kathryn Elsesser

Formerly head sommelier at The Heathman in downtown Portland, Rahn has long admired single-vineyard Oregon wines, especially Riesling. Surprises on the menu included three wines that lean sweeter: a demi-sec Pinot Gris in sparkling and still versions, and a sweeter Riesling primed with aging potential. On the drier side Rahn’s food-friendly Pinot Meunier is a welcome addition. Wylde’s label, Statera, claims to be the first winery in the Willamette Valley to exclusively make Chardonnay. The 2016 Statera Cellars Corral Creek Chardonnay was a favorite with the texture and tang of 12-month fermentation and a reasonable price tag of $30.

Currently, all fruit is sourced, but 35 acres have been planted with a plan for estate fruit. Among the new vines are heritage clone Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, plus some unusual suspects such as Trousseau Noir, a red French grape more common to Portugal, and Poulsard (Ploussard), a red French variety commonly grown in Jura. Also, just to keep things interesting, there are Mencia, Godello, Grüner Veltliner, Aligoté, Mondeuse, among others.

Tootsie the Rooster.. ##Photo by Kathryn Elsesser

A Chick Named Betty

All the chickens at Abbey Road Farm are named Betty, although there is one scrappy girl with the enviable moniker Punk Rock Betty. Seriously, these might be the happiest hens on earth as they regularly snack on garden and breakfast treats, including the occasional blueberry pancakes made just for them. Guests can feed the Bettys and the nearby ducks “approved” food. The miniature donkeys — Sissy, Daphne, Tommy — are another matter. Their stubby legs and chubby bottoms make them the Corgi of the donkey world. They are curious enough to allow some petting but a little sad because those sagging tummies have resulted in a diet — no treats for the donkeys. The sheep graze in another area because they are antisocial; the goats, who would love a treat, are also separate, because, they are goats.

Sleeping in a Silo

Sleeping in one of the five silo suites will round out your edges in more ways than one. Everything feels cozily curved. Stairs follow the contour to upper rooms with the utmost privacy. The views are bucolic and the tubs are jetted. Evening fires warm the pit just outside. A bottle shared around the fire or in the adjacent “Tool Shed Hangout” offers the perfect way to end the day. With its vintage whiskey posters, comfy silver velvet sofa and converted rope lights, this chic shanty contains cool, rustic charm.

Abbey Road's lovable donkeys.. ##Photo by Kathryn Elsesser

After a night of farm girl dreams, early risers — those up with Tootsie — will see the sun come over the hills and cast a golden glow across the fields and rolling valley below. The covered porch, made for morning coffee, stands a few feet away from a tree of songbirds. From here a glimpse of “The Habitat,” can be viewed. The seven-acre wetland reserve houses flying fowl naturally guarded by llamas and alpacas.

Kale Yeah

Breakfast is for foodies. In the open kitchen, chefs/innkeepers Eric Bartle and Sara Kundelius make the marvelous meal every day for silo guests. This culinary duo trained at Western Culinary Institute in Portland but now live on the property and tend to the lush garden that populates much of the plates.

The couple’s passion for food and attention to detail are apparent in every bite, and their hospitality feels warm and authentic. On the table appeared a bowl of melon and cherries, a cheese plate with candied hazelnuts and the genius coupling of candied ginger, plus a platter with fresh zucchini bread and buttermilk biscuits sweetened with Kundelius’ own apple pie jelly. The main course — what is better than breakfast in courses? — was a choice of sweet or savory. I chose the latter, specifically eggs Benedict made with pork loin brined in ale and infused with smoke from the farm’s own cherry wood and Pinot Noir-soaked French oak barrels, and layered with kale straight from the garden and a very local egg — I hoped it was from Punk Rock Betty.

I was a bit sad to say goodbye to Abbey Road Farm, but I plan to return. The 82 acres of farmland fantasy beckons and is equipped to host. Upcoming events include a Wine and Dine Dinner Series and Silobration NW. More information can be found at

The outdoor wedding courtyard and indoor event center make this place a dream site for nuptials or a good excuse for a vow renewal.

I wonder how hard it would be to train a miniature donkey to carry a ring pillow…

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