In Memoriam: Carole McCrone

Bi-hemispheric Pinot Noir grower, master gardener, chef

Carole and Don McCrone##Photo provided by Ken Wright

By Ken Wright

We lost an amazing friend and partner a few weeks ago. Carole McCrone passed away peacefully in her sleep. She and husband Don planted and owned McCrone Vineyard, located just north of Carlton in the Yamhill-Carlton appellation.

I met Carole and Don at my first Open House in 1987. They were Seattleites at the time. He was chair of the Political Science department at the University of Washington and Carole was doing catering for Boeing, among other things. They loved Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley and were looking for property in Yamhill County to create a vineyard. They landed on a 10-acre parcel northeast of Carlton that was a southwest slope at an elevation of 350 to 400 feet. Perfect.

Planting began in 1991 with a half-acre of 115 clone Pinot Noir. Over the next several years the vineyard was expanded to 7.5 acres. We began purchasing fruit from the vineyard in 1995. In the year 2000 (remember how all computers were forecasted to implode?), we entered into a 15-year lease agreement and began farming the site.

Don and Carole enjoyed the relationship so much they decided to duplicate it in Martinborough, New Zealand. There, they found a partner in Ata Rangi Winery. They purchased roughly 10 acres and planted 7.5 to Pinot Noir. Over quite a few years, the McCrones led a bi-hemispheric existence, in Oregon during our harvest season and in New Zealand for theirs.

Carole was many things. She was a master gardener. She won a number of contests for original food recipes. She beautifully catered our major events for many years. Those talents, however, are not what I think of when I think of Carole.

She had a wonderfully wry sense of humor. She immediately understood the character level of every person in the room with her. She had an inner core of steel that was not evident until it was required. She was incredibly personable and completely unselfish. She didn’t need to be complemented to be happy.

More than anything else, she made everyone she met feel that with people like her in this world civility had a chance. I always loved her for that and always will.

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