Archive for May, 2012

Biodynamics and How Nature Works

May 26th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

We are often asked what the term “biodynamics” means. My response is simply that it’s an holistic approach to farming.  Just as a naturopath looks at an illness by considering all aspects of the body, we solve agricultural  problems by looking at the entire farm, and seeing where improvements can be made.  Just as one’s own body health includes diet, exercise, cleanliness, etc., so the farm’s health is made up of different elements all working together.  We are constantly aware of how changes in one area of the farm impacts other areas, either positively or negatively, and work to minimize the negative.

One such example is the need to reduce the impact of an particular insect on the farm – yellowjackets. We will not use poisons because it will have an adverse effect on other, non-harmful insects. We do not even necessarily want to kill off the yellowjackets – just reduce their numbers, which in turn will reduce their negative impact on the farm.

To achieve this, we capture several of them in a trap. We then use a biodynamic process to combine the remains of the yellowjackets with some other materials to make a tea.  That tea, which acts as a natural repellant, is then sprayed in those areas that we want the wasps to avoid.

Not only have we noticed a significant reduction in yellowjackets in the areas that were treated with the tea, but we have also seen an increase in beneficial insects and birds in those same areas.

Nature helps us strike a balance on the farm, and as long as we are working  with that balance in mind, we, along with our grapes, garden, animals and ultimately our wine, all thrive.

Wayne Bailey will be hosting a Biodynamics class at Youngberg Hill on July 26th.  Visit our calender of events  for more details.

Alien Daze

May 16th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

It was June of 1950 when the historic sighting of a UFO took place just outside of McMinnville, Oregon. Paul and Evelyn Trent took pictures of what appeared to be a flying saucer above their home in Dayton.  While it did not receive the national attention nor retention that other sightings in the ’50s had, from an historical and military perspective, it was as important as any other.

There are many to this day that recount this event, and many others that love to celebrate the possibilities from the outer realm, and within our own imaginations.  These folks come together every year for the UFO Festival sponsored by McMenamins Hotel Oregon Now in its 13th season, it’s not only an event designed for fun, it’s also meant to intrigue and educate those with a curiosity for our alien counterparts.  Or it may just be an excuse to have a good time, drink some wine or beer, and speculate.  But the stories of encounters remain alive either way, and isn’t that the best part?

What peaks my interest is that there is a TV series on the History Channel 2 titled Ancient Aliens that provides hypotheses and proof that there were alien encounters thousands of years ago that have been instrumental in shaping who we are today.  And if there have been alien encounters throughout mankind’s history, then local tales of encounters, like the Trents’ experience in Dayton, do not seem so out of the realm of possibility.

 Do you believe?

As Our Garden Grows

May 12th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

On Youngberg Hill, we are continuing the journey of healthy farming and living in a sustainable environment. As our daughters get older and our Inn occupancy increasing we find ourselves going through more and more fruits and vegetables every day.  Given that, we decided to plant about a half-acre organic garden this year.  Not only would we get great produce from it, it would be good for the girls to work in the garden this summer.

So we began planting this month. The girls have been very helpful and taken ownership for the results it brings. We started in the house with seedlings of tomatoes, basil, chives, and cloves in cardboard rolls and eggshells.  We have since planted the tomatoes in the garden. We will plant seeds of tomatoes in the garden as well as grow plants that will provide fruit later. We planted starts of strawberries and asparagus in patches that will come back every year, although the asparagus won’t produce for a couple more years.

We planted sweet corn in another plot with room to plant more in a couple of weeks. We planted all the usual vegetables – carrots, radishes, lettuce, spinach, pak choi, leeks, cucumbers, pumpkins (for Halloween), beans, peppers, and potatoes.

We have been planting in accordance with the Farmer’s Almanac’s guidance regarding timing on planting. This is in concert with our biodynamic farming of the grapevines and our holistic practices on the property. By timing our planting of potatoes at the full moon, they will produce much better and that will be in concert with the rest of nature on the farm. Part of the biodynamic philosophy is that all of nature be in balance and syncronized. That applies to all plant, insect, and animal life on the farm.

As our garden begins to flourish, the girls are excited to see the changes each week, and to soon taste, literally, the fruits of their labor!


May 5th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

STAR DATE April 22nd, 2012:  We saw the first evidence of bud break; the first event of the grape growing season, when the new buds break open, and the first leaves and shoots begin to grow.  April 21st and 22nd were our first truly warm days of the year – over 70 degrees.  Because it was already late April, the vines had pent up energy and were ready to burst with the advent of some warm sunshine.  So last Monday morning as I took my early walk through the vineyard, I was thrilled to see that overnight the vines had exploded with new leaves.

Why is this so exciting?  First, it is the beginning of the grape growing process.  This is what life on Youngberg Hill is all about!  Second is the timing – after two years of very late seasons, seeing life begin on the vines in the third week of April causes great expectations as to what the vintage might bring.  Everything for the rest of the season is more or less determined by when bud break occurs.  We still have six more months of nurturing and coaxing, by us AND the weather, before we have fruit in the barn and can declare it a successful vintage. But with a more timely bud break, and warmer weather predicted for May, it is cause for excitement.  Last year, by the end of June, we had had only four days of temperatures reaching or exceeding 70 degrees.  As of today, we have already had three days above 70.

Don’t misunderstand – I am not anticipating a hot year, nor am I hoping for one.  Because I am influenced by the French style of winemaking, and because of where our vineyard is located, I much prefer a cooler growing season.  That said, gathering grapes in October is preferable to a November harvest.

Based on your experience with wine, which type do you prefer? A hot vintage that tends to be bigger, more fruit forward, and higher in alcohol; or a cooler vintage that is more elegant, balanced in fruit and earth flavors, and lower in alcohol?