The Carlton Winemakers Studio tasting room entrance. ##Photo provided
The Carlton Winemakers Studio founders and former owners (from left) Eric Hamacher, Luisa Ponzi, and Kirsten and Ned Lumpkin. ##Photo provided

Studio Sold

Hampton Lumber buys Oregon’s innovative Carlton winery

At the end of August, The Carlton Winemakers Studio announced its new owner, Hampton Lumber. While the fourth-generation, family-owned Portland business will continue its main focus on forestland and lumber production, Hampton is not entirely new to the wine business.

In 2016, Hampton diversified its business by planting its first vineyard, Tall Tree, just outside Monmouth. Two years later, Hampton acquired Fennwood Vineyard. These properties produce Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes for winemakers throughout the region. The acquisition marks the Hamptons’ initial venture into winemaking.

The first alternating-proprietorship winery in Oregon, The Studio pioneered a business model built upon the vision of winemaker Eric Hamacher, who saw a need for a space where small wineries could maintain independence while taking advantage of a collaborative community under one roof, sharing equipment and expertise. The innovative model lowers the entry cost for start-up brands. It has launched several successful brands, including Penner-Ash, Ayoub, Brittan, Soter, Résonance, Hamacher, and Failla Oregon. Current tenants include Andrew Rich, Lavinea, RR and Project M, among others. 

Founded by Hamacher and wife Luisa Ponzi, and Ned and Kirsten Lumpkin, The Studio was created using Hamacher and Ponzi’s winemaking expertise and the Lumpkins’ experience as builders. Opening in 2002, The Studio was the first winery facility in the U.S. to be registered and built following the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED construction code. The winery’s on-site tasting room has received national acclaim as a popular Oregon wine country stop.

The Hamptons plan to continue the 27,000-case production facility under the same business model with the same tenant wineries and longtime general manager Anthony King.

“Winemakers working together to produce quality wine is an authentic and personal way to go about business, and we aim to maintain that,” says co-owner Jamey Hampton.

Hamacher adds, “I’m very proud we were able to create this unique communal winemaking space that allowed small, quality-minded winemakers to launch their dream of entering the wine industry in the Willamette Valley. It’s with great pleasure that we are now able to pass it along to another family who shares that same vision.”

“Given the incredible impact The Studio has had on the Willamette Valley wine industry, the founders were looking to pass the baton to someone who shared their vision and would continue to honor The Studio’s legacy,” says Erik McLaughlin, CEO of METIS, the firm that advised the transaction. “We knew Hampton Lumber had been looking for a unique way to expand their role in the wine industry, and The Studio was a perfect fit for them.”

“This region is known for its forest products and exceptional wine, and we’re thrilled to be involved in both,” says co-owner David Hampton. “Vineyard management and winemaking are natural extensions of our family’s commitment to growing and crafting sustainable quality products right here at home.”

Hamacher will continue his namesake brand at his Beaverton winery; Ponzi remains director of winemaking at Ponzi Vineyards — recently sold to the Bollinger family — located outside Sherwood. The Ponzi family retained their original estate vineyard and three others, agreeing to a long-term contract to grow and sell grapes to the now-French owned Ponzi Vineyards.

The Lumpkins will maintain their vineyard and wine brand, Lazy River. Kirsten says, “Working with Eric and Luisa brought immeasurable expertise to this project. We so enjoyed watching The Studio’s clients as they work in a collegial environment and gain respect from the wine-loving public. It will be fun to watch the Hamptons’ iterations of [the winery] in the future.”

Hampton Lumber, a global leader in quality wood products, has more than 1,700 employees; the company operates 10 sawmills in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, and is committed to sustainable forestland stewardship.

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