March 16th, 2013 by nicolette
With the approach of spring, warmer weather and white wine comes to mind. We are preparing to bottle our 2012 Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc in April. Which is timely, because we sold out the last of our 2011′s in September. We leave our white wines in stainless steel tanks after fermentation, then cold stabilize, and bottle. Different from our Pinot Noir, we make our Gris and Blanc to drink young, so they will be available in May – just in time for warmer weather and sunny skies.
Come join us on the Hill for a taste of Spring!
March 9th, 2013 by nicolette
We often hear from guests in our tasting room that they don’t know how to explain what they are tasting, and therefore can’t say why they like or don’t like a wine. I sometimes use the analogy that wine is like music – you and I may like (or dislike)the same song, but for different reasons. The same applies to wine. Different experiences and tastes may bring us to the same conclusion, or to two very different conclusions about a particular vintage. It’s not always necessary to articulate why, but it IS important to realize what your particular tastes are. That’s the joy (and benefit) of wine tasting!
February 23rd, 2013 by nicolette
How does one become an Oregonian? Those of us who’ve moved here from a different state to live understand what I’m asking. We moved here 10 years ago from Chicago and sometimes I still feel like I am not considered to be an Oregonian by some. Oregonians are proud, easy going people, and very friendly, but like many people everywhere, some Oregonians have a hard time accepting change. I’m still told regularly that I’m not an Oregonian. I walk too fast and talk too fast and drive too fast. Many things that used to drive me crazy I now accept as part of the culture, like never pumping my own gas. I use to be frustrated that I am not allowed to do this basic task when I have been doing it for almost 20 years. Now I think of having a gas station attendant pump my gas as a little gift so I don’t have to get out of the car on a rainy winter day.
I’ve discovered there isn’t a magic formula for becoming an Oregonian. I do know that you feel like one before you are one. You can’t change Oregon, but it changes you. These days I am slowing down. I am starting to understand small town living, look forward to talking to people on 3rd Street, and I have found that as I’ve made friends and gotten to know my neighbors, I’m not too concerned anymore about not being considered an Oregonian. I just absolutely love living here and I can’t think of any place I would rather be than this wonderful place called Oregon.
Hey, I am an Oregonian!
February 16th, 2013 by nicolette
Wine and chocolate are often paired together, particularly during this romantic time of year. Why? Just ask Natalie MacLean, author of Red, White and Drunk All Over: “Wine is liquid sensuality: Its heady bouquet stimulates the appetite and its velvet caress soothes that desire. What other drink is described as both ‘voluptuous’ and ‘muscular’? And when you pair wine with the mouth-coating luxury of chocolate, the combination is impossible to resist.”
And scientifically speaking, they’re made for each other. The acid in wine and the fat in chocolate are natural characteristics that balance the other on the palate. The more fat in the chocolate, the more acid needed to offset it.
Also, chocolate is considered to have an “earth” characteristics, as opposed to a “fruit” characteristics. So if you eat chocolate with a more earthy wine, you will find that they pair quite nicely. You might often see chocolate, or cocoa, used as a descriptor for wine flavors. Chances are that particular wine will be a pleasing complement to chocolate. Now for the coup de grape, there are chocolatiers that make truffles infused with wine. We have wine truffle chocolates in our Inn guest rooms to enjoy. Heaven!
February 9th, 2013 by nicolette
Its pruning time in Oregon and all the vineyards are hard at work. Pruning is the most important function we do for the health of the plants and the production of wine grapes. We are not pruning solely to obtain the highest yield or get rid of the old growth, although these factors are important. Primarily we are pruning to provide the best flow of nutrients, water, and energy from the vine through to the shoots, the leaves, and ultimately, the fruit.
So what is pruning? For most of us who are growing Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley, it is cutting off almost all the vegetative growth from the previous growing season. At the end of each season, all that’s left is the stock, two fruiting canes – growing from and perpendicular to the stock, and about 14-16 shoots coming off the fruiting canes. The beautiful canopy of leafy shade is gone, and all that remains is the skeleton of the plant.
On each plant, we will cut off both last year’s fruiting canes with all the shoots leaving only two new fruiting canes that were new shoots grown last year. The selection of which shoots to leave as the next year’s fruiting cane is critical. We choose these shoots based on how the energy and balance flow in the vine. This may be an easy selection on one vine and a very difficult one on the next. It is important for the health of the vine and its production to select the shoots that are going to do the best job of transferring nutrients and energy throughout the plant. This takes a trained eye and an understanding of the physiology of the vines.
Ultimately, we strive to help keep the plant in balance as it prepares to burst forth once again. If your visiting an Oregon winery in the next few weeks ask them to show you. We would love it!
January 26th, 2013 by nicolette
We first meet Lon almost 8 years ago through his son Miles, who went to school with our daughter Natasha. When Natasha and Miles became friends, we got to learn more about what kind of a person Lon is. Our first thought of Lon was that he was incredibly kind. Personally, I find that very admirable in anyone I meet, and he made an excellent impression on us right from the start. Our second thought about Lon was that he was funny. He isn’t one to crack jokes and be the life of the party, but he has the kind of humor that sneaks up on you when you least expect it.
Lon worked at Wells Fargo for years and when he decided to end his corporate accounting job and work with his parents at Found Objects in McMinnville, I knew he needed something more challenging. We invited Lon to start bartending at our events this past summer. There he shined; he kept event guests happy with his humor, worked hard, laughed a lot, and really showed us what a good person he is. When an Innkeeping position became available, he was the perfect fit.
After a couple of weeks of cooking breakfasts at the Inn, Lon earned the nickname “Tin Man.” He wrapped everything in aluminum foil – cookie sheets, ramekins, leftovers, you name it. Whatever needed to be kept clean or preserved was covered in foil! For Christmas our other Innkeeper, Becky, recycled all of the aluminum that she had used in the kitchen over a few months and crafted it into a huge ball for Lon.
Now Lon is part of the Youngberg family and we are thrilled to have him brighten up our days and those of our guests. Becky raves about all the jokes he plays on her, and she loves getting him back. We can’t wait for more laughter with Lon in the years to come!
January 20th, 2013 by nicolette
There continues to be a lot of discussion in the industry regarding the perception of Oregon wines, the relationship with Pinot Noir, and how to best market. I think the relationship is reciprocal. What do I mean by that?
Oregon (in particular the Willamette Valley) is a great place to grow Pinot Noir. We are producing Pinot Noir that rivals any produced anywhere in the world. We continue to gain accolades such as those published in the latest Wine Spectator. Therefore, Pinot Noir = Oregon.
Oregon is also growing other varietals and producing some very fine wines, however, Pinot Noir is what has put Oregon on the map as being a viable wine producing state and over 50% of Oregon wine production is Pinot Noir. Therefore, I say Oregon = Pinot Noir.
So from a marketing perspective, Oregon should put its best foot (product) forward by promoting Oregon Pinot Noir across the world, differentiating Oregon Pinot Noir from others produced around the world by our unique growing conditions, soils, quality, and sustainability. The more we do that, the more awareness there will be, the more wine sold, the more tourism, and the more non-Pinot Noir wines will be recognized. Let’s not be another California.
January 14th, 2013 by nicolette
It’s hard to imagine how 6 years have gone by since Aspen arrived and blessed us. I have described Aspen many times as “the one who saved my life.” When moving to Oregon over 9 years ago and embarking on this amazing adventure at Youngberg Hill, I was Super Woman. I tried to do it all; family, innkeeping, housekeeping, marketing, lawn maintenance, etc. I remember becoming ill in year three. God, in his ultimate wisdom, got me pregnant (no, I’m not talking the immaculate conception, but it wasn’t planned). I knew, without a doubt, I had to hang up my Super Woman cape and accept that while I could do it all I shouldn’t. I hire help with all the things that I had been doing and allowed myself to trust in those decisions.
Since Aspen joined our family, everything in our lives have changed for the best. We carved out our own family space on the hill. We hired wonderful staff to be the Innkeepers, housekeepers, tasting room manager, and so on. In the past 6 years I have been able to look over the weeds and see the direction the company needed to move into. We are now right where I always wanted us to be. We are a family having a farm, wine, vineyard, and hospitality experience that is exceptional in every way. We are having fun and loving what we do. Yes, Aspen saved my life and she also brings Joy into everyone’s life!
Come visit her soon!
January 12th, 2013 by nicolette
So at what temperature should you enjoy your favorite wine? As depicted in the diagram, it depends on what type of wine it is. But also heavily factored is how you prefer it. Just as what kind of wine you like, and what food you pair it with, the temperature of the wine is a personal preference, but a little guidance may help. Most wine is consumed either too cold which masks the taste (in the case of white wine) or too warm (in the case of red). Why? Because most of the time we pull a bottle of white out of the refrigerator or a bottle of red off the wine rack in the dining room.
Ideally, both are kept in a wine cellar or other temperature-controlled environment at a temperature of 55 degrees. White wine could then be pulled from the cellar, opened, and drank immediately. Red wine could also be pulled out of the cellar, opened to breathe, poured into a larger glass (warmed by the hands), and drank.
Another factor to consider is whether or not you are eating food with it, and if so, what is the temperature of that food? If the wine is closer in temperature to the food temperature, there is better exchange of flavors. I don’t mean to suggest your wine should be as hot as your soup! But a white wine could go a little cooler with a salad and a little warmer with a crab cake.
It also depends on the weather. A refreshing cool wine (white or red) hits the spot on a sunny day, while a warmer wine by the fire on a winter night is just right!
January 5th, 2013 by nicolette
I never thought I would see a French wine bottled with a screw cap. Well, it has happened, and more than once. As we consider ALL aspects of storing, transporting, serving, and drinking wine, our priorities can change.
In regards to closures, it was once believed that cork was the only way to seal wine in a bottle. Now we know that other closures may be better for the wine, the consumer, and the environment. The “right” answer may vary from wine to wine, and even change over time as we get more information.
Wine used to be transported in barrels to its destination of consumption, similar to beer. That changed with the development of glass bottles, making wine purchasing more economical and convenient. The 750ml bottle became the standard of the industry, and remained so for many years. Today, barrels (or kegs) are again being used to transport wine to the point of consumption and purchase. Furthermore wine is currently available in boxes, bags, plastic bottles, and can even be purchased by going to a retailer and “filling up” your container as if you were at a gas station. To date, none of these alternatives have jeopardized the quality of the wine. In fact, in many cases, the quality has been enhanced, just as we have seen with the screw cap.
In what alternative packaging have you obtained your favorite wines recently?