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:

Spring

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.

Summer

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.

Fall

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.

Winter

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!

Let’s Elope! Six Do’s and Don’ts for the Perfect Elopement

July 21st, 2015 by Rachel

ElopementElopement has become a trend recently. While this spur of the moment decision may be just right for your relationship, there are still some do’s and don’ts you should watch out for:

DO Share the news with your loved ones. Even if your mother will be disappointed that you and your partner are not having an all-out Disney princess wedding, it is important to include your loved ones in your happy news and your joy.

DON’T Feel the need to justify your decision. There may be questions about why you decided upon an elopement over a wedding. Some people may even have negative emotions surrounding your decision. Be prepared to simply acknowledge that other people may feel left out and move on with your new, married lives.

DO Work out a budget. This is still your wedding day and there are things you may still want. Perhaps it’s a special outfit, the rings, or an amazing location. It is the “little things” that are extremely important when it comes to the day you and your partner are married.

DON’T Fail to follow legal rules. Some states require that you get married a certain number of days after obtaining a marriage license. Others may demand that you have witnesses at the ceremony. Make sure to research and follow the legal rules so that you and your partner are actually married once all is said and done.

DO Have a celebration. You may want to wait until after your honeymoon to share your joy with friends and family, but make sure to have a celebratory “we tied the knot” dinner or low-key party once the deed is done.

DON’T Forget the photographer. Even if you are just running to the courthouse or you are booking an elopement package at your local winery, you will want pictures of your special day. There are some expenses which should never be spared, and one of those is your photographer.

Every couple has a reason for their decision to wed or elope. No matter how you decide to get married, know that you are making the right decision for your relationship. And… Congratulations!!

A Great Big THANK YOU from Youngberg Hill

July 14th, 2015 by Rachel

Youngberg HillYou may wonder why we wanted to take a moment this month to give all of our friends, visitors, guests, and fellow wine enthusiasts a warm thank you. We have a number of reasons to thank you all this year. We want to thank you for trying our wines. We want to thank you for joining our winemaker dinners. We want to thank you for challenging us to do better and to grow as a winery and an inn.

Recently, we won the Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor. Because this is such a customer-driven award, we were blown away by all of the fantastic reviews we received. It’s not always easy for individuals to take the time to stop and write a review about a location they have stayed at or just visited, but many of you took the time. That action is more important than you may think – and here is why:

We read every review written about us that is on the internet. That is a pretty tough task, but we do it. This is not just because we like to pat ourselves on the back. We read these reviews because we want to challenge ourselves to do better.

Not only do we work hard to take time out and listen to our customers on the internet, we take the time to talk to visitors and guests while they are here. Our goal is to make your experience at our inn, vineyard, and winery the best experience possible.

People come to Youngberg Hill for many reasons. Some of our guests are bursting with joy on their wedding day. Others are looking for a good glass of wine, while still others are simply here to put their feet up and relax for a few days. Our goal is to meet the needs of every one of our guests.

Now, here are just a few of the many fantastic reviews for which we are so grateful. Again, thank you to the reviewers!!

Perfect Getaway

“Great hospitality and some of the best views in the area. Stayed here for 2 nights and it was the perfect spot to explore the wine region. The Inn manager was awesome, and the owners were on site to talk about the vineyard, which was nice. Very unpretentious, helpful hosts. We had a lovely time.” – TripAdvisor Member May 24, 2015

Awesome

“This is our 4th visit to Youngberg Hill Inn over the past 15 years. We were very happy with our stay. You cannot beat the views, hospitality, or food. The wine tasting is also great. We were fortunate to stay in the beautiful Jura suite. The pictures on the internet are great, but even better in person. All rooms are nice. Mariafeld would be a close second choice of room, but all rooms are beautiful.” – Margaret F. May 12, 2015

Bed and Breakfast Gem in McMinnville

“We have stayed in several bed and breakfasts in the Oregon wine country and this one is top on our list. Our room had a fireplace, but we didn’t use it as the weather was fantastic. We had a balcony to an incredible view. There was a complimentary wine tasting each evening and the breakfasts were great. Nathan was the chef and he was super helpful.” – Elaine B. March 22, 2015

Loved our tasting

“We stopped here one afternoon for a tasting. Becky, the friendly host, took a lot of time with us and we loved the gorgeous outdoor setting and views. Just beautiful. It made us wish we had booked a room here, too!” – TripAdvisor Member September 4, 2014

These are just a few of the 299 reviews written about Youngberg Hill Vineyard and Inn on TripAdvisor! So, thank you again for taking time out to tell us about your stay with us. Thank you for coming to visit us. We cannot wait to see each and every one of you again soon!

Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley: Then and Now

July 7th, 2015 by Rachel

Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley

Pinot Noir in the Willamette ValleyNot only are we at Youngberg Hill celebrating our 25th anniversary this year, the entire Willamette Valley is celebrating 50 years of Pinot Noir. In honor of both of these anniversaries, we wanted to talk about the development of Pinot Noir here in our beloved valley.

Brief History of Pinot in the Valley

Back in 1965, David Lett planted Pinot Noir here in the Willamette Valley. By 1970 there were just five bonded Oregon wineries. In the ’60s and early ’70s, winemakers were simply matching varietals with climate. They ordered the cool climate varieties and crossed their fingers – hoping the match would be perfect. Luckily, it was and Oregon Pinot Noir blossomed throughout the Willamette Valley.

By 1974, Oregon State University was able to help create clones of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay imported from Burgundy, France. The Burgundy weather and land is very similar to the Willamette Valley climate, and these clones thrived. Oregon wine was put on the map as a force to be reckoned with and in 1975, Portland restaurant L’Omelette created the very first wine list featuring Oregon wines.

Over time, more and more wineries sprouted up throughout Oregon. By 1980 there were 34 bonded Oregon wineries and in 1985 Oregon wine saw a huge triumph. Our local Pinot Noir outshined the French in the Burgundy Challenge at the International Wine Center in New York. By 1990 – when Youngberg Hill came to the Willamette Valley – there were 70 bonded Oregon wineries and by 1997 sustainable winegrowing became a hallmark of Oregon winegrowers. There are about 400 wineries in the Willamette Valley now, and that number is still climbing.

Here at Youngberg Hill Willamette Valley Winery

Over the years Oregon wineries have worked toward carbon neutral, sustainable farming practices. At Youngberg Hill, we work to embody these environmentally friendly strategies in both our farming and winemaking practices. We feel these processes don’t just help the environment, they allow our wine to express the terroir in taste and texture.

Not only have we made sustainable improvements in farming practices, we have added variety to our wine repertoire. At the moment we have three distinct blocks of Pinot Noir and one block of Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.

One thing that shows up strongly in Willamette Valley wines is the terroir (the taste and flavor imparted to a wine by the environment in which it was produced). We have 20 acres of vineyard and each block has a distinct taste based on varying soil types and microclimates just in those 20 acres. We feel this variety is what makes Oregon wine country produce such fine and distinguished wines.

There has never been a better time to visit Oregon wine country. We are excited to see what harvest this year has to bring us and are proud to present our 2014 wine selection. Be sure to visit us this year for our silver anniversary and look forward to our 2015 wines next year. We are thrilled to share them with you!

Ten Fun Reasons to Come to the Willamette Valley This Summer

June 23rd, 2015 by Rachel

Come to the Willamette Valley this summerSummer is a fantastic season to spend time here in the Willamette Valley. There are a ton of events and activities going on throughout the valley. Here are ten fun reasons to come to the Willamette Valley this summer!

Every Thursday beginning May 21st is the return of Farmer’s Market in McMinnville. We love pairing our wine with the local goodies provided by surrounding farms.

Wine Wednesday beginning June 17th we are featuring our Wine Wednesday music on the deck. Enjoy great tunes, lovely sights and delicious wine.

July is Oregon Craft Beer Month, which means it’s a great time to check out all of our local craft breweries. The Willamette Valley is both Oregon wine country and Oregon beer country, so be sure to taste both!

July 12th is the date on which we are hosting the McMinnville Area Habitat for Humanity Women’s Build Fundraiser. From 2pm-5pm we will be hosting wonderful people supporting a delightful cause. Come to the Willamette Valley this summer

July 22 we will be celebrating 25 years of Youngberg Hill and 50 years of Pinot Noir here in the Willamette Valley with a fantastic winemaker dinner. Internationally acclaimed chef Katherine Frelon will be creating amazing food to pair with our wine.

July 24th-26th is the International Pinot Noir Celebration here in McMinnville, Oregon. This three day event is the mecca for Pinot Noir lovers and northwest cuisine. World-renowned winemakers will join chefs, epicures and wine lovers in our little town of McMinnville. Tickets are available through our website.

August 8th is the annual Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon. Run through the Willamette Valley, past Dundee Hills, Yamhill-Carlton, Chehalem Mountains, and Ribbon Ridge.

August 9th- 24th will be peak watching conditions for the Perseid Meteor Shower. You can watch for this lovely astral event from anywhere here in the Willamette Valley… but we have the best view of the stars here at Youngberg Hill!

August 24th is Carlton’s Walk in the Park Golf Tournament. Signing up to this activity provides a golfer with a dinner, 18 holes of golf on the Chehalem Glenn Golf Course, a free mulligan, tournament prizes and more.

September 12th is the Carlton Crush Harvest Festival. This fun local event is host to tons of wine-themed activities from a grape stomp competition to a barrel rolling race, classic car display and more.

Throughout summer and winter you will be eligible to win wine from Willamette Valley wineries. The entire valley is celebrating 50 years of Pinot Noir. Check out the Willamette Valley website to get all the details on how to win some fantastic local wine!

All of these great activities are at our Willamette Valley Inn and vineyard or are nearby. So, if you need a hub from which to enjoy your summer in Oregon wine country, consider Youngberg Hill!

Why Choose Sustainable Food and Wine?

June 16th, 2015 by Rachel

Sustainable wineWhen we consider sustainability, we usually think about sustainable food farming practices or sustainable materials – but we don’t often think about sustainable wine.

Sustainability means many things to many people. However, in agriculture, sustainability means: an integrated system of plant and animal production practices. The long term goals include enhanced environmental quality, integrated natural biological cycles, and enhanced quality of life for farmers and the society as a whole.

When a farm works to become sustainable, it has often gone beyond organic to a point where the farm labors to grow useful products in a way that benefits the land and surrounding environment. In doing this, the farmers are not only creating a better environment, they are also adding vibrancy and flavor to their food.

Nothing expresses the flavor a sustainable farmland imparts more than wine. In wine, one tastes the terroir directly. The land expresses itself through the texture, body, and flavor of your wine. Our Willamette valley winery strives to accomplish this with every bottle of wine.

However, sustainable wine is not the only way to support environmentally responsible farming. It’s important to turn your attention to sustainable food as well. There are local Willamette and Yamhill valley farms which use sustainable practices as they produce vegetables, fruit, meat, and dairy.

Foods created in a sustainable environment are uniquely delicious. When you pair these with local, sustainably produced wines, you experience true culinary delight.

If you’d like to experience sustainable wine for yourself, come visit us for a tasting or one of our many events here at Youngberg Hill. We look forward to seeing you soon!