Holistic Farming: Our Approach to Growing Grapes

February 18th, 2014 by Rachel

Organic farming is inherent in the culture here in Oregon.  Our state is among the top five states in number of certified organic farms.  Even more farms utilize organic practices, but don’t go through the costly certification process.  Instead, they farm organically because it’s the right thing to do.

seriously organic winesGenerally speaking, organic farms are those which do not utilize synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.  At Youngberg Hill, we take it a step farther by using a biodynamic philosophy when growing our grapes.  This means we do not poison our soil with synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.  Instead, we consider the farm from a holistic perspective.  We look at the balance of our ecosystem and work to generate health and fertility naturally – within the farm itself.

There are a number of grasses and other local plants growing on our farm.  These give a home to local insects, which feed local birds.  These plants give and take nutrition from the soil.  Their lives and their deaths enrich the ground in which our vines grow.

We don’t use chemical fertilizers to pump up tired soil.  Instead, we work to maintain the rich soil nature provided us with when we first came to Youngberg Hill.

Why do we take so much care to create a natural environment in our farm?  There are two reasons:

1st: We want our wine to tell the story of the land in which the grapes were grown and how nature affected each and every grape.  We believe in letting nature speak for itself in the clarity and flavor of our wines.

2nd: Youngberg Hill is a family owned and operated farm.  Our girls are growing up here. We want to raise our grapes in the same healthy environment in which we are raising our girls.

Our philosophy and way of farming has kept our family happy and healthy – and has made us able to produce award winning wines year after year.

Have you heard of Holistic Farming? What are your thoughts on this with regard to wine? 

 

How to Taste Wine Properly

February 4th, 2014 by Rachel

youngberg hill tasting roomWe have all heard that wine tasting is a complicated process.  You have probably been given advice on how to taste wine – usually this includes:

a)     Look at the color of the wine to discover its clarity, depth, and saturation.

b)     Smell the wine

c)      Swirl the wine in your glass.

d)     Note how slowly it runs back down the side of the glass while you’re swirling.  This is called viscosity.

e)     Smell the wine again.

f)      Take a sip of the wine and roll it around your mouth so as to expose it to all of your taste buds.

g)     Note the aftertaste.

There can be more steps involved for the professional wine taster, but those are the basics.

However, when going wine tasting, the most important thing to note is what we like to call the “yuck” or “yum” factor.  That is: do you like it?  If so, what do you like about it?  If not, what don’t you like about it?

The first part is easy.  Just taste the wine and discover if you enjoy the texture, smell, and flavor.

The second part is more difficult.  Discovering what you specifically like or dislike about the wine can be tough to describe.  Taste is a deeply personal experience and how one person describes a taste can be completely different from the description of another person who is sipping the exact same wine.

So, how do you describe your taste in wine to a store, restaurant, or winery? Here are four tips:

  1. When you taste a wine you like – find out how the winery described it.  You can do this in the tasting room by speaking with the person who is conducting the tasting and asking them for tasting notes, discussing specifics of the year the wine was produced, and finding out how it was aged.However, you aren’t always in a tasting room when sipping a glass of wine.  You may be at home or out at dinner.  You can check the bottle for descriptions or note down the wine you ordered and Google the tasting notes later on.
  2. When you taste a wine you don’t like, do the same thing.  No one really wants to remember the wine they didn’t care for, but understanding why you didn’t care for it will help you buy wines you enjoy more in future.  So, find out about the wine, discover how the taste or smell you didn’t care for is described, and don’t buy wine with those characteristics in future.
  3. Consider what it’s paired with.  The way you perceive taste changes as you eat and drink wine.  You might be enjoying your food and wine more than you would if they were not paired.  On the flip side, you may really dislike your wine because of a bad pairing. 
  4. Find out what certain descriptive terms mean.  Some very common terms used when discussing wine are:

Rich – Wine which shows ripeness and viscosity.  This is something you can discern from the legs which form when you swirl your wine and from the depth of color.

High Acidity – This describes a tart and zesty taste.  When describing reds; “high acidity” usually means it’s lighter in color and tastes tart.  When describing whites; this often means a lemon or lime taste.

Oaked – This means the wine was aged in an oak barrel.  The type of oak used in the barrel itself can have a huge impact on the taste of wine.  But, when you’re talking tastebuds, the “oak” tastes in wine are the non-grape related tastes.  Common “oak” tastes are vanilla, butter, and coconut in whites and spice, vanilla, and dill in reds.

UnOaked – Wines are not always aged in oak.  Wines which are unoaked are often more zesty and tart.

Buttery – Often describes a white that has been aged in oak and has low acidity. It has a creamy texture and a smooth finish.

Floral – A smell or taste of flowers or blossoms.  This is opposed to a fruity taste or smell.

We could go on and on talking about terms used to describe wine, but these are some of the basics.

Just remember, when tasting wine, it’s all about your very personal taste.  Be sure to keep that in mind when you next go out for a wine tasting or sip on a glass of wine at a restaurant.

What are your personal wine tastes? COMMENT below and share with us…

3 Reasons to Visit Willamette Valley

January 27th, 2014 by Nicolette Bailey

Willamette ValleyThe Willamette Valley is arguably one of the best known regions in Oregon.  The fertile soils of the Willamette Valley are known to produce some of the world’s most exquisite Pinot Noir wines, and it is Oregon’s leading wine-producing region.  Willamette Valley is home to two-thirds of Oregon’s wineries and vineyards, making it an ideal wine tourist destination.  Enjoy a day spent touring a select few of the more than 150 Willamette Valley Wineries with our wine driving tour.  At Youngberg Hill Vineyards & Inn, we have 20 total acres with three distinct blocks of Pinot Noir and one block of Pinot Gris, all of which are organically and sustainably farmed.  The wonderful combination of soils and weather found in the Willamette Valley are perfectly suited for the growth of Pinot Noir, resulting in high quality fruit with rich, intense black fruit flavors, earthy minerality, and high acidity.  We take immense pride in the wines produced here.  Stop in to our tasting room, which is open 7 days a week, and experience the delicious complexity of Youngberg Hill wines.

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Intimate Vineyard Weddings in Willamette Valley

January 18th, 2014 by Nicolette Bailey

Willamette Valley Vineyard WeddingIt’s January, and romance is in the air.  Couples all over the country are planning special dates, anniversaries, and romantic weekend getaways near and far.  With so many newly engaged couples, now is the perfect time of year to start planning your wedding, particularly when it comes to choosing the perfect location to say your vows.  Vineyards have become an increasingly popular location for weddings, especially in Willamette Valley, the very heart of Oregon’s beautiful wine country.  Imagine uttering those vows and beginning your lives together as the sun sets on our beautiful hill in the heart of Oregon’s wine country, overlooking our vineyard and the breathtaking views of Willamette Valley.  Youngberg Hill Vineyards & Inn, situated atop a 50 acre hill in Willamette Valley, is the perfect location for an intimate vineyard wedding.

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Willamette Valley Geology 101 | Youngberg Hill

January 6th, 2014 by Nicolette Bailey

dirt 2As farmers, we wine grape growers have a strong interest in the soils our vines are planted in. When we explain to guests the different characteristics of our soils, we are often asked how the soils got there and why they are so different from one another. During such a discussion with some recent guests, we were fortunate to have among them a geologist who was visiting.  He not only took a strong interest in our explanation, but had additional information to share as well.  For all of our “dirt-geek” readers, and for those who just want to learn more, his research points can be read in the following pdf .  We are thankful to have such interested and passionate guests who want to join the discussion about wine farming, and welcome your comments on the topic of soil in the Willamette Valley!

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Oregon Wine Tasting at Youngberg Hill Vineyards

December 27th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

Oregon wine tastingThe holiday season is coming to an end, the longest and darkest day of the year has come and gone, and 2014 is nearly upon us.  As sunlight slowly begins to creep back into our lives over the coming winter months, we think a getaway to Oregon’s Wine Country is the perfect way to spend a weekend.  Willamette Valley is home to the majority of Oregon’s wineries and vineyards, and is known the world-over for its exquisite Pinot Noir wines. The annual harvest is over and the temperatures outside are cold, but it’s still the perfect time for Oregon wine tasting at Youngberg Hill Vineyards.  Stay with us for a weekend, and enjoy the slower, quieter pace of wine country this winter.

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The Unparalleled Beauty of an Oregon Wine Country Wedding

December 20th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

Oregon Wine Country WeddingStatistically, 33 percent of engagements happen during the holiday season.  With all of those newly engaged couples out there, whispers of wedding planning are on the lips of new brides-to-be everywhere, and the intense search for the perfect wedding location begins.  Some brides have been dreaming of their venues for years, and some have no idea where to start.  Choosing the perfect location for your wedding is everything; it sets the entire tone for the rest of the wedding, and helps to direct subsequent decisions for the big day.  With approximately 500 wineries in Oregon, it’s easy to find a beautiful facility for a vineyard wedding, but it’s not very often that you find such an exquisitely beautiful and exclusive location for your Oregon Wine Country wedding as Youngberg Hill Vineyards.  Nestled among the picturesque, undulating hills of the Willamette Valley, Youngberg Hill Vineyards, nestled atop the Hill of our family-run farm, sets a stunning scene for your Oregon wedding that can’t be beat.

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2013 Oregon Wine Vintage in Review

December 16th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

Harvest 2013 104Oh what a beautiful October we had!  Many wine grape growers in the area say that September weather determines how good of a year we have for the vintage. I believe that October tells a good story of vintage quality but its not the whole story. While much of the ripening takes place in September, October is when everything comes together.

2013 Oregon wine vintage was no exception. The growing season started early with an early spring, and that timing continued throughout the season. The summer proved to be a little warmer than normal which also had things moving along a little faster. The combination resulted in ripening happening in warmer conditions, moving sugars and acids ahead of other ripening factors, which may throw the resulting wines out of balance. This caused some farmers to become concerned that the grapes were going to need to be harvested early and that the resulting wines would be high in alcohol.

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Winter Wine Tours

December 2nd, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

winter wine tourEach season in Oregon’s wine country is as special and magical as the last.  While winter may not be your first choice when it comes to taking a tour through Oregon’s beautiful wine country, some would consider winter one of the best times to visit Oregon wineries.  Give us a chance this year to show you how beautiful and magical a winer in Willamette Valley truly is with a winter wine tour. Harvest is wrapping up and things are quieting down, bringing fewer visitors to Oregon’s wine country.  It an ideal time to enjoy the slower, quieter side of wine country.   Many of the wineries found throughout the Willamette Valley, including Youngberg Hill Vineyards, are open to visitors year-round.  Journey in to the many tasting rooms that dot the Willamette valley, and you’re likely to have the chance to sit down and talk in depth to the winemakers themselves; something that occurs less frequently during the peak travel seasons.

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Wine Club at Youngberg Hill

November 25th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

Thanksgiving 2013 edit 001It is release time for the 2011 vintage, and the perfect time to join our Wine Club!

Wine clubs are a great way to keep in touch with wineries that you enjoy, to keep your wine cellar stocked, to try new vintages before the general public gets to, and to receive and/or purchase wines or vintages that are only available to wine club members. In fact, there are some entire vintages that are only available to wine club members.

A Wine club membership provides discounts on purchases for semi-annual shipments and on other orders. Members are also invited to participate in special events throughout the year including winemaker’s dinners, free tastings, wine tours, barrel tastings, club pickup events, blending parties, and more. Wine clubs also provide opportunities to enjoy wines that are not released to the general public or stores.

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