June 8th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey
We prepare for wedding season all year long at Youngberg Hill. The site preparation, the upgrades, the vegetation – the small things that make the Hill such a special place to get married. From the first time a future bride and groom see the vineyard and the view, there is an energy and enthusiasm that carries through the entire planning of their big day. Some couples we meet with want everything simple and elegant, while others are working off a list that they have been compiling for years. They are both equally charming and delightful. After choosing a venue the next step is choosing the vendors that make the day so complete – caterers, photographers, cake artists, florists – we enjoy helping clients choose from the vast array of talent available in the Northwest.
The first vendor that is typically selected after the venue is the caterer. Youngberg Hill has a preferred caterer and offers options for any caterer you choose. Capturing the wedding day through poignant photography is easy to do with an experienced photographer (and a great setting!), and many offer a variety of packages and options. The spectacular setting of the Hill seems to capture each wedding as serene and blissful, and every sunset backdrop sets a tone of tranquility and ever-afters.
Then there are music choices to make, florists to hire, cakes to taste. (To all the grooms, go to the cake tasting!) Take good notes, keep a sense of humor, and embrace the random craziness. And if all else fails, hire a wedding coordinator!
May 11th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey
Not all wine enthusiasts have the opportunity to travel to Oregon’s wine country to explore the wonderful valley where grapes are grown and wine is made. Therefore, it’s important for us as winemakers to travel to markets across the country to share our life’s work with others. We have had the opportunity over the last couple of weeks to do just that. You might ask: “why travel to the midwest this time of year?” The answer is simple – right now is the slow period in the vineyard. In April the vines will begin the new growing season and there will be work to do. Most of us are farmers first, and without close attention to the vineyard, we are not able to produce the quality of Pinot Noir that is expected from the Willamette Valley.
So we found ourselves in Minnesota, Iowa, and Chicago during one of those late winter snow storms that reminds us that spring is still a ways off. But fortunately the storm passed quickly and travel carried on. We are very excited about the increased awareness of Oregon Pinot Noir in Minneapolis. It seems to align with Minneapolis’ recognition as the “foodiest city” in the country and its new-found love of holistic culinary eateries.
Chicago continues to be one of the best restaurant cities in the country, and where there is good food, there is good wine. Chicagoans are beginning to discover the great versatility of Pinot Noir with food pairing and that Oregon’s more elegant and higher acidic pinots are a perfect match for the foods they love.
We had great success in both markets, with new retail placements and glass pours at many of the top restaurants. We look forward to returning next year, to rekindle friendships and cultivate new ones, over a glass of Oregon Pinot Noir.
May 4th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey
We started seeing budbreak on April 15th this year. We haven’t had budbreak this early since 2005! Why are we excited about this? Budbreak is the “official” beginning of the seasonal growth cycle of the vines. Although weather and temperatures may have a slight impact on the speed at which the vines grow through the season, everything hinges on and calculates back to the number of days since budbreak; whether it be the timing of bloom, fruit set, veraison, or harvest.
Why is this so important for us here in the Willamette Valley? We are in a cooler climate than most grape growing regions and therefore do not get as many degree hours of heat per day. So it is important for us to get as many days above 60 degrees as possible. An earlier spring and later fall both help in providing those additional days. Regardless of the weather, it still takes the vines about 180 days from budbreak to harvest (full ripening of the fruit). It is approximately 110 days from bloom to harvest.
We consistently are pushing against the envelope in October to get fruit ripe before the rains start in earnest. So the more dry time we get, the better. And an earlier budbreak helps to give us that time. We hope we are blessed with equal good fortune throughout the summer months!
April 27th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey
Wine drinkers often drink wine as a celebration. I like to think of it as a holistic celebration of life. First comes the growing of the grapes. This process requires us to work in concert with nature (and we choose to do this organically and holistically) for approximately nine months, to produce the best possible fruit. During that process, there are dozens of workers using their eyes, hands, minds, and feet to work the vines and nurture the soil. We must dance with the weather and sing to the sun. And thus we celebrate the harvest of the fruit we have toiled to grow all summer long.
In the winery, it is a concert of activity mostly performed by the fruit itself; fermenting, fermenting again, and then growing and aging in barrel. And there are many of us performing different activities to ensure a safe environment for the grapes to do what they do best. So it is a cadence and movement that are performed in the winery to evolve the wine into something new. At the time of bottling, we again celebrate the completion of another stage in the evolution of the wine.
With the wine in bottle, there is a dance and song that many individuals perform as the wine is marketed, transported, and sold throughout the world to the end consumer. Everything that goes into grape growing and winemaking and wine selling, I do not view as many individual businesses just doing their jobs. We are all working in concert, in the celebration of life, as family.
April 23rd, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey
Who would have ever thought there would be wine grapes grown, and wine made, in every state in the country today? Having grown up in the midwest, it’s inconceivable to me that grapes are being grown in North Dakota, Montana, or Iowa. But they are. Did you know that prior to prohibition, Oregon farmers were growing grapes and making wine? Missouri was the largest grape-growing state at the time, and New York was the largest producer of wine. And at the same time Spanish priests were planting grapes in California, Thomas Jefferson was planting them in Virginia.
It is amazing that everywhere people live, and in fact, wherever civilization has existed, grapes have been grown and wine has been made. There is proof that wine was produced by ancient civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece as early as 4000 BC.
So I suggest that growing grapes and making wine is not just a lifestyle, it is part of the human condition. It is natural and even inherent to grow, produce, and consume a product that is founded on farming and fermentation.
So explore the contrasts of wine from different regions across our great country. While we may have many different beliefs, priorities and climates; we seem to all enjoy the growing of grapes and the making of wine. Maybe this is what is meant by “purple mountain majesties”!
April 13th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey
Generally wine lovers cherish fond memories of the occasion for which they opened a particular bottle of wine. Whether a gathering of close friends, an enchanting gala, or a quiet evening by the fire, we can think back to what made that time meaningful.
For me as a winemaker, I am transported back to the year that wine was created. Immediately after uncorking a wine, the deep aromas and first sip remind me of what was happening with our family and farm the year the grapes were grown and the wine was barreled. Any weather anomalies we may have had that year, any especially wet or dry months, late freezes or perfect Indian summers rise to the surface. What else happened during that summer? Maybe a calf was born, one of our girls took their first bike ride or acted in a local theater play, we got a new loader, we lost a tote of grapes at harvest, or the birds invaded with more gusto than usual.
A singular open bottle evokes memories of the winemaking itself during that season – the evolution of the wine, whether the fermentation went fast or slow, how it tasted going into barrel, the magic of one particular barrel in the cellar, and of course the release of the vintage. Every sip of that wine is a celebration of the life that transpired that year – both the good times and the challenges.
April 6th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey
I had the pleasure of being treated to a spa day at the Allison. I was not disappointed. It was a luxurious spa experience that provided relaxation and rejuvenation that I really needed. It combines a day experience that is calming, relaxing and blissfully indulgent. They have a vast array of rejuvenating therapies. I recommend doing it with a friend and planning extra time to relax onsite before and after. Its an easy drive from Youngberg Hill and many of our guests go for a spa experience. Now I can talk with them about the whole adventure. This is a great treat for a few hours or even a half day when in Oregon’s Wine Country. I am now stress free for the moment and isn’t that every woman’s wish?
March 30th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey
Wine glasses are designed for different varietals and for different reasons. Is it necessary to use the “correct” glass every time? No. And probably not practical. However, there are a couple of guidelines that may help you enjoy your wines more.
A larger glass is always better, regardless of a red or white wine. White wines typically do not need as large a bowl to aerate, but it doesn’t hurt. It is unfortunate when wines are tasted and/or served in a small glass, because the aromas are stifled. Red wines especially need bigger bowled glasses so they can be agitated more to open up, stir the aromatics, and warm to the occasion.
March 23rd, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey
I want to tell you of a life that I adore. I refer to Holly as the Sister you never knew you needed until she showed up. I remember adopting Holly from the rescue shelter and from day one she was a new spirit, fun loving, crazy, childlike and kind. She was the first to greet you with a ‘hello’. She would take plants by the roots and pull them out of the ground then happily present it to you. Holly’s proudest achievements were bringing you sticks, rocks, branches, bushes, and critters so you too could rejoice in her accomplishments (good or not so good). Holly was the first to walk with you into the vineyard and stay by your side. She kept watch over our daughters as they played around the hill and never left their side. After seven wonderful years Holly’s leg was amputated due to a tumor. Unfortunately, that was not enough to save her life. Now we are experiencing the painful lesson of life and loss. Holly is now pain free and running in our hearts and minds. Thank you, Holly, for sharing your childlike joy with us. You will be remembered.
March 16th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey
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!