Making Pinot Noir in The Willamette Valley

October 6th, 2015 by Nicolette Bailey

DSC_6902Many of us who make Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley either learned our wine-making trade in Burgundy or aspire to make wines in a manner similar to Burgundy. What does that mean? It means using a light touch in the winery to let the wine reflect where the fruit was grown and what weather the fruit was grown in. This philosophy creates wines that will be very different across the valley and vary significantly from year to year.

How is this done? We do this by doing as little as possible in the winery to change the natural characteristics coming from the fruit. An example of that is “crush”. While we all envision Lucy stomping on the grapes in that classic TV episode and in some regions with some varietals, we take great care in not “crushing the grapes before going into fermentation. Because Pinot Noir is a feminine grape with thin skins, it is important not to bruise the fruit, which will change the characteristics of the wine. We also take care not to make any adjustments to the wine like adding acid if it is a low acid year, adding sugar if it is a low sugar year, or adding water if it is a high sugar year. We use the saying “It is what it is”.

I often use the analogy of raising children to wine-making. If you try to make a rocket scientist out of a child with innate skills as a concert pianist, he probably wouldn’t be as good a rocket scientist as he would be a concert pianist. In the same way, if one tries to manipulate the wine to taste a certain way, it is most likely not going to be as good a wine as if it is left to reflect the fruit it is made from.

Finally, the wine will go into barrel, typically French white oak for our Pinot Noirs) for anywhere from 14 to 24 months depending on the vintage and the fruit. After barreling, we will bottle and hold for several months before releasing typically  two years from the time it was harvested.

blog action photo tasting room sing

The History of Pinot Noir and Why it is THE Willamette Valley Grape

September 22nd, 2015 by Rachel

Pinot NoirPinot Noir is one of the earliest varieties of grape cultivated and used for making wine. Pinot has been grown in the “Slope of Gold” in Burgundy, France for many hundreds of years. There are many factors that make Burgundy an amazing place to grow Pinot Noir. These include:

  • Gentle sloping hills
  • Longer spring and fall seasons
  • Soil that drains well
  • Cooler temperatures

Fortunately, the Willamette Valley and Yamhill Valley have very similar growing conditions. We have the cooler temperatures, the longer spring and fall seasons and unique soil. The terroir here in the Willamette Valley imparts specific tastes to our Pinot Noir that makes it very uniquely our own.

One aspect of our land allows us to really bring out specific and unique tastes in our wine. That is: the soil. Each block here at Youngberg Hill has very specific soil types, and you can taste this in the wine itself.

For example, the Bailey block is composed primarily of volcanic rock and shale while the Natasha block features mainly marine sedimentary soil. When you taste Pinot Noir created from each of these distinct blocks in the same year, you can tell they are distinct.

To compare the different soils in another way: the 2012 Jordan Pinot Noir pairs well with red meat and game, while the 2012 Natasha Pinot Noir pairs with duck, salmon, and pork. Both are created from Pinot Noir grapes, but they have distinct flavors.

We are very lucky to have such a perfect climate for Pinot Noir here in the Willamette Valley. It’s much like living in a little slice of Burgundy, France.

Don’t believe us? Come visit and enjoy our lovely rolling hills, temperate climate, and fabulous wines for yourself!blog action photo tasting room sing

Why Choose a B&B When Visiting the Willamette Valley?

September 15th, 2015 by Rachel

Visiting the Willamette ValleyYoungberg Hill isn’t just a working winery and vineyard, it is a B&B as well. We know there are many places to stay throughout the Willamette Valley, but recommend staying at a Bed and Breakfast for many reasons. Here are a few thoughts on why you should choose a B&B when visiting Oregon wine country:

1-Personalized service. Hotels often can’t give you the one-on-one attention a Bed and Breakfast can provide. We love getting to know our guests and helping them have a wonderful trip. Additionally, our guests may have the opportunity to participate in one of our winemaker dinners – like the upcoming harvest dinner on October 17th!

2-Unique location. Bed and Breakfasts are placed in interesting and unique locations. For example, Youngberg Hill overlooks our active vineyard in the middle of Oregon Wine Country. You can see the Coast Range, Mount Jefferson, Mount Hood and the Willamette Valley from here.

3-Local knowledge. Because of the one-on-one relationship the innkeeper is able to have with her guests, our B&B can provide personalized and local information that a hotel wouldn’t have the time to give. For example, we know all of the best Willamette Valley restaurants and can notify you about upcoming festivals and other local events.

4-Delicious breakfast. Breakfast is always an event here at Youngberg Hill! We have a fabulous chef that will get your day started out right with a fantastic breakfast.

5-Wonderful rooms. We are constantly working to improve our accommodations. Currently we have four suites and four luxurious guest rooms along with a library, salon, and large dining room.  

We think B&Bs have a certain air of romance and give you wonderful service. Be sure to check out our Bed and Breakfast when planning your next visit to the Willamette Valley!blog action photo Inn

Why You Should Take Advantage of Local Vineyard Events

September 8th, 2015 by Rachel

Vineyard EventsWe host events all year round here at the Youngberg Hill vineyard and winery. These events include winemaker dinners, music nights, a 5K and 10K run, concerts, and more. We love putting on events for our friends and hosting events for wonderful organizations like the Linfield College.

However, the love and time that our Willamette Valley vineyard puts into making each event wonderful is just one of the many reasons to take advantage of these events. Here are a few other reasons why you should mark your calendar and come to our vineyard events:

  • Unique location. We feature the best views in the valley here at Youngberg Hill, along with a sustainable vineyard, winery, and Inn. Our events give you an excuse to spend plenty of time in a beautiful, natural environment.

Vineyard Events

  • Exposure to local wine, music, food, and more. Many wine country activities pair up with other local businesses. For example, we not only have wonderful music at our Wine Wednesday performances, a local food cart comes out to feed attendees.
  • Fantastic people. Those attending local events are people with similar interests as your own. Many of the wonderful community members that come to our winery for fun events are wine lovers with storied pasts.
  • Exclusive opportunities. We recently were able to feature a wonderful chef all the way from Burgundy, France. This and other exclusive chances often only occur at smaller, local events.

We will be having our last 2015 Wine Wednesday performance on September 16th and our next winemaker dinner is on October 17th. There are also many local Willamette Valley harvest festivals and events coming up. Some of our favorites that are coming up are the Carlton Crush, Newberg Oktoberfest, Wine Country Thanksgiving, and the Oregon Truffle Festival.

Get all of the details on the calendar and keep an eye out for more wonderful events!

blog action photo tasting room sing

7 Ways You Can Add Organic Charm to Your Wine Country Wedding

September 1st, 2015 by Rachel

 Wine Country WeddingWe are sure you’ve seen all of the amazing boho-chic and rustic organic charm featured in Pinterest weddings. You have also probably seen the “Pinterest fails” when someone tries to duplicate the beautiful photos and projects featured on that popular website. In this article, we have compiled seven beautiful ideas that will add organic charm to your Willamette Valley wedding. We have seen these ideas in action, so we know you won’t have to take a “fail” picture when using them in your wedding.

1 – Incorporate seasonal flowers. A spring/early summer wedding may bloom with soft pink peonies and roses while a summer wedding can feature glorious dahlias and sunflowers. Using seasonal flowers can only enhance the natural surroundings found here in Oregon Wine country.Wine Country Wedding

2 – Speaking of flowers… think about where you want the flowers.
When we think about boho-chic weddings or weddings with an organic feel, we usually think about flower crowns adorning the bride’s hair, trailing bouquets, and flowers in containers big and small. While you may think to just adorn everything with flowers, that can get pretty expensive. So, consider how and where you’d like to place the flowers so that you get the biggest bang for your buck.

3 – The cake can be anything from crazy creative or super au naturel. Generally, organic or rustic weddings have a cake that either looks like a flower or has flowers involved in the decoration. The other side of the boho/organic coin is to have a very plain looking layered cake. If you want the flower look, but don’t want to actually eat petals, you may want to look at silk flower cake toppers or other faux flower decorations.

Wine Country Wedding4 – Decorations can be creative. Organic weddings have a flowy, wild garden, and vintage feel. This means you can use your imagination when decorating. Think about different fillers you can use. Some ideas include hay, snapdragons, rosemary, feathers, wildflowers, or thistle. Also, look at materials like lace and burlap to decorate your chairs or vases. You can have a ton of fun decorating for your wine country wedding.

5 – Mismatching is okay. We have seen more and more couples use adorably mismatched vases and mason jars, wood and metal buckets, fun wood signs, and more. When you go for a boho-chic look, mismatching goes with the overall look.

Willamette Valley Wedding6 – You aren’t stuck with a traditional dress or only wearing white. Modern brides are not stuck with pure white, traditionally cut dresses. Wedding dresses can be any color and any style.  Pick the dress and color that makes you feel gorgeous and you have your wedding dress!

7 – Have fun with it! Pinterest weddings are always gorgeous, but this is your wedding. You and your partner are celebrating your unique and one-of-a-kind love. So, don’t feel restricted by Pinterest or a set theme. Create your own beauty and we guarantee your wedding will be just as wonderful as your love for one another.

We hope our tips have helped you as you plan your big day!Willamette Valley Wedding

Plan Ahead – Coming to Oregon Wine Country in the “Off-Season”

August 25th, 2015 by Rachel

Oregon Wine CountryHere in Oregon wine country, we tend to feel as if there is no real “off-season.” We are busy all year round, so we don’t have the same schedule as many of our guests. If you are thinking about visiting the WIllamette Valley, but you can’t come during the summer – don’t worry! Our wonderful valley is a great option to get you through that long haul during fall and winter when things get gray and you need a vacation more than ever.

So, to combat winter fatigue, we thought we would provide some ideas for planning your “off-season” vacation now. This way you can get a jump on things and have a lovely winter here in wine country.Oregon Wine Country

  • First things first, get your stay scheduled in advance. Because Oregon wine country is so gorgeous (and often temperate) all year round, we get booked up in the wintertime. Be sure to reserve your favorite room for your vacation.
  • Map out your trip. There is so much to see here in the Yamhill and Willamette Valleys. In our area alone we have over 150 wineries and tasting rooms that you can sample. Make a list of the wineries you’d like to visit most and map your route there.
  • Make sure to visit other area attractions. We are dedicated foodies here in Oregon and we are proud to be surrounded by amazing restaurants like the Joel Palmer House, Thistle, and Bistro Maison. There are also local artists, delicious handmade chocolates, and gorgeous views all throughout our valley.
  • Use us as your home base. You may want a day on the coast or to pop up to Portland for several hours. We are your perfect, quiet, and cozy base for day trips!
  • Ask us questions! What is the focus of your trip? Do you want to see the sites, enjoy unique wines, or just relax for a few days? Let us know and we will work to help you make your dreams a reality!

Winter, spring, summer, and fall in the Willamette valley are incredibly beautiful and unique. We hope to make your trip perfect, no matter what the date or time of year

Can you Drink Wine with Breakfast?

August 18th, 2015 by Rachel

 Drink Wine with BreakfastThe short answer to “Can you drink wine with breakfast” is “YES!” But we have a longer answer below.

Wine and beer have been breakfast, lunch, and dinner drinks for hundreds of years. There was a stigma against water when water purification was in its infancy and alcoholic beverages were considered safer. Because we have such ready access to clean water, juice, coffee, and tea, we rarely think about drinking anything alcoholic in the morning. When we do, it’s often a mixed drink like a mimosa or bloody Mary. However, wine at breakfast should be added to your “special occasion” repertoire. Here are five tips for making your special breakfast or brunch even better by adding a glass of wine:

#1. Go beyond bubbles. Champagne or brut at breakfast are, admittedly, delicious. Their acidity helps them pair well with foods like eggs and bacon. However, there are other wonderful, high-acid wines out there. For example, the Youngberg Hill 2013 Cuvee and our 2014 Aspen Pinot Gris have the right acidity to work with breakfast foods. Other wines that have higher acid levels can include Furmint and Chablis.

#2. Go all out. If you are going to have wine with breakfast, don’t just eat a muffin and call it done. Make breakfast an occasion to be remembered with all of your favorite foods. The guests at our inn are partial to our cornish baked eggs and honey baked bacon, salmon hash, or pancetta tarts. Be sure to make your breakfast an event!

#3. Be bold and try red. Red wine in the morning can give you nice kick, much like a bloody Mary. A pleasant Pinot Noir might be the perfect fit with a breakfast filled with salmon or pork.

#4. Think pink. A delicious Rosé may help you get your brunch started out right and can help clear the palette for what is to come.

#5. End with ice wine. This dessert wine may be just what everyone needs as they sit around the table, full of food and wine. It’s also great paired with a final, sugary treat like strudel.

Let us know if you have had wine at breakfast!

Growing Wine Grapes, from Budbreak to Harvest

August 11th, 2015 by Rachel

Wine GrapesThere are many significant parts of the wine grape growing process. Any plant growth is slow and steady and wine grapes are no exception. However, we wanted to share the points in the growth of our grapes that make us jump for joy each and every year. Here is a rapid breakdown of what it takes every year for us to grow the grapes we use to create delectable wines:


Our wine varietals are planted on 20 acres of vineyard space. They produce grapes each year, beginning in spring with budbreak. This is when the first buds of the season emerge from the vine after winter.Wine Grapes

The next spring activity is usually flowering. This is when the vine develops tight bunches of flowers. These flower clusters will eventually grow into grapes. We are extremely excited to see flowers bursting forth throughout the vineyard during this time.


The flowers eventually turn into tiny green spheres. This is fruit set. We work tirelessly to make sure these little spheres grow into juicy grapes using canopy management and other farming techniques.

By late summer the grapes have gained fullness and color. This is called veraison and is the time of year when you can tell which grapes are green and which are purple.


Wine Grapes

Harvest is in fall. This exciting time is when we are out in the vineyard every single day, deciding when the grapes are at the perfect ripeness for plucking. Once this is decided, we pick every bunch by hand.

After harvest, we crush the grapes and begin the winemaking process.


In many farms, winter is the quietest time of year. However, since we create our Willamette Valley wines onsite, we are working hard during winter to make sure fermentation is going correctly and the wine is developing beautifully. Additionally, we must prune the vines to get them ready for budbreak next year.Wine Grapes

Every season is exciting in Oregon wine country. We hold our breath for budbreak, rejoice in seeing our grapes gain fullness and color, and keep a watchful eye out for harvest time. Not only are these times exciting, they are incredibly beautiful. If you haven’t visited us here at Youngberg Hill, pick anytime of year and come. You won’t be disappointed.

Five Seasonal Foods Paired with Summery Wines

August 4th, 2015 by Rachel

Summery Wines

Summery WinesWith summertime in full swing, our mouths water as we think about pairing seasonal foods with a variety of summery wines. We know that most people think of beer when they consider barbecues or other summertime cookouts, but we argue that wine adds more depth and flavor to grilled foods. Here are some of our favorite food and wine pairings:


Food: Hamburgers, the American classic. Any grill master who is worth their title knows how to barbecue a great burger. Add a little cheddar cheese, some mayo, lettuce, tomato, and onion and you have an American classic.

Wine: You can actually pair both red and white with this American classic. On the white side, a buttery Chardonnay or bubbly Champagne may be the perfect pairing.  When it comes to red, we love a straightforward Cabernet Sauvignon, a peppery Zinfandel, or an earthy Pinot Noir like the Jordan.


Food: Grilled zucchini. We think fresh summer veggies brushed with olive oil and seasoned with a little bit of salt and pepper and then cooked directly on the grill taste amazing.

Wine: Lemon-bright wines like our Aspen Pinot Gris and 2014 Pinot Blanc bring out the smoky, grilled flavor. Smoky reds like Spanish Tempranillo will intensify your culinary experience. Other delicious options include Riesling and Chianti.Summery Wines


Food: Barbecue chicken or shrimp. When it comes to barbecue sauce, traditional “red with red meat, white with white meat” logic flies out the window. You need to pair your wine with the sauce. So, what do you love? Sweet, smoky, or spicy? That will be what determines your wine.

Wine: Let’s break down the wine pairings here:

Sweet: An excellent pairing would be a white or blush wine like white Zinfandel or Rosé

Smoky: Pairs well with a strong red like Malbec or Merlot. Another great option is the 2011 Natasha Pinot Noir.

Spicy: Sip on something citrus-forward like Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc.


Food: A big, juicy steak. If there’s one thing we love it’s a fantastic, local steak grilled up and served with new potatoes or some other delicious vegetable.

Wine: We all know that red wine pairs with red meat, but how do you determine the right red for the job? Here at Youngberg Hill, we have created full-bodied red wines that go perfectly with that fat steak you want to chow down on this weekend. For example, our 2011 and 2012 Jordan Pinot Noirs are a fantastic pairing with red meat. Other pairing options include a classic Bordeaux, Cabernet, or Merlot.


Food: Veggie burger. Sometimes you have to go vegan or vegetarian, but that doesn’t mean you don’t get to drink wine! Two of the best veggie burgers we have seen either have a strong mushroom element or quite a lot of quinoa, so those are the flavors for which we will recommend pairings.

Wine: Pinot Noir generally pairs excellently with mushroom flavors. This is because here in Oregon, we are known for both mushrooms and Pinot Noir, so the flavor profiles go hand in hand. Another great pairing for mushroom-forward veggie burgers is Mourvèdre.

Quinoa has a completely different taste and requires lighter white wines like Sauvignon blanc or Viognier.


We would love to hear what your favorite summer food and wine combination is! Share it with us in the comments below.

Five Fun Things to Do at a Winery

July 28th, 2015 by Rachel

WineryHeading out to a winery for a visit is always a great time. There are wines to taste, questions to ask, and sights to see. However, there is more to do at a winery then simply go wine tasting. Here are five activities that you should plan to do when you visit an Oregon winery:

#1. Stay. Many wineries, Youngberg Hill included, have an inn or bed and breakfast attached to the vineyard. These are gorgeous places to stay – and they are often right in the middle of wine country. In our case, we are surrounded by over 150 wineries and tasting rooms.

#2. Take a driving tour. Wine country is absolutely beautiful. Don’t miss a minute of it searching for street signs or worrying about where you should go next. Instead, schedule a driving tour and let someone else take you through wine country.

#3. Schedule a tour of the vineyard and/or barrel room. Many wineries will offer a tour of the vineyard or barrel room if you schedule one ahead of time. Call them up and ask if it is possible to get one. You will have the opportunity to see how the grapes are grown, the winemaking process, and possibly have a chance to taste some wine right out of the barrel.

Winery Tour#4. Pack a picnic. Many wineries and tasting rooms don’t offer food, but will allow you to eat on their porch and enjoy the scenery. Pack a picnic, buy a bottle, sit on the deck and soak in the beauty of the surrounding countryside. You won’t be disappointed.

#5. Attend a winemaker dinner. Winemaker dinners are a fantastic opportunity to sip great wine, eat perfectly paired food, and pick the brain of the people who put their heart and soul into creating the wine. Not only does this give you a chance to understand what you are drinking in an in-depth way, you will have interesting conversations and you may even make a friend or five.

Visiting a winery is not just about the tasting – although that is always delightful. You have an opportunity to get an in-depth look at the wine, those who created it, and the vineyard in which it was grown.

We would love to hear your favorite part of a winery visit. Let us know!