Archive for the ‘Oregon Wine Country’ Category

The Post-Harvest Vineyard

November 25th, 2014 by Rachel

Post-Harvest VineyardHarvest is an extremely busy and exciting time in every vineyard. This is when we collect the fruits of our year-long labor. The keyword there is that our labor happens all year long. In order to set up next year’s harvest for success, we must prune the vines in the dead of winter.

Pruning takes place during the dormant months of the vines; December, January, and February when the vines will not bleed excessively when the cane is cut off. Pruning vines is similar to pruning roses, cutting off the past year’s growth in order for the vine to grow new shoots to develop an appropriate canopy and fruit.

There is more to pruning wine grape vines then simply cutting off old growth. We are also “training” the vine in the shape of a “Y.” This will provide balance, maximum energy flow, and strength to the vine.

The pruning process is done by selecting two of last year’s shoots to be the current year’s fruiting cane. These two shoots make up the top part of the “Y”; the stock is the bottom. The right shoots must be kept to provide the optimal energy flow through the vine and into the fruit. The fruiting cane is that from which the new shoots grow that develop the fruit.

Not only are we pruning for the current year’s crop, we are also pruning to leave spurs for the next year as well. In doing so, we are continuing to train the shape of the vine as it grows from year to year.

Pruning is the way we get a jump on next year’s harvest. What do you do each year to get your next year started out right?  Let us know in the comments below.

What is Wine Racking?

November 18th, 2014 by Rachel

The Pinot Making ProcessWinemaking is more than the process of harvesting grapes and squeezing out the juice. Once the grapes have been harvested, there is still plenty to do. One action is called “wine racking.”  Here’s a quick rundown of what this is, and why it’s so important during the process of winemaking.

The term racking means moving wine from one vessel to another. This can be from tank to barrel, barrel to barrel, and barrel to tank. Racking can be done to serve a number of different purposes. It all depends on where we are at in the winemaking process.

The first racking is generally done shortly after initial fermentation of sugar to alcohol is complete. This separates the wine from the skins, seeds, dead yeast cells, and other particles that settle to the bottom of the tank. Red wine typically goes into a barrel at this racking.

Red wines are commonly racked on other occasions during the wine aging process. It all depends on the preferences of the winemaker and the grape varietal.

After the wine has finished secondary fermentation (this is malolactic fermentation – which means converting malo acid to lactic acid), it may be racked again. The purpose of this racking is to further clarify the wine by taking the wine out of barrel, cleaning the barrel of the sediment, and then putting the wine back into barrel.

This is the point at which wine-making becomes both a science and an art – with a little magic thrown in. The winemaker must have an intimate knowledge of of the fruit from that particular vineyard. He must know the age of the vines and impacts of terrior. Experience and an almost sixth sense will help him tease out the specific nuances of that vintage and see how the wine is aging in the barrel. All of these factors play into the decision of whether to rack or not.

The final racking consists of moving the wine from barrel into the tank for settling before bottling. You can learn much more about racking and winemaking by setting up a tour here at Youngberg Hill.

What kind of winemaking details are the most interesting to you? Let us know in the comments below.

Farm-to-Fork Foods Paired with Harvest-to-Glass Wines

November 11th, 2014 by Rachel

Youngberg Hill Wine HarvestIt is often said what grows together, goes together.  This idea is at the heart of Oregon’s farm-to-fork movement.  The wine grown and harvested here in the Willamette Valley is perfect with fresh seasonal ingredients brought from farm to table. This time of year you will find Oregon wine country filled with seasonal foods like beets, cabbages, parsnips, carrots, celery root, chard, late-season corn and mushrooms, and winter squash.

As with the wine produced throughout the Willamette Valley, the good food found here is a direct result of the quality of each ingredient.  In Oregon, chefs and farmers work together, resulting in the modern day foodie paradise of Willamette Valley.  Choose to stay with us at Youngberg Hill Vineyards, and this rich abundance of farm fresh foods and handcrafted wines will be at your fingertips.

For a truly unique Oregon experience, dine at Thistle. There the chefs create seasonal menus based on what is available to them throughout their Willamette Valley network of farms. The chefs and owners of Thistle work closely with local farmers in an effort to develop sustainable agriculture and have been one of the innovative forces behind McMinnville’s farm to table movement. When you’re ready for something sweet, pick up some locally made chocolates at Honest Chocolates, located in downtown McMinnville.

You can also visit us at the Granary District Winery – along with a number of other local wineries – for a pre-Thanksgiving open house. You will have the opportunity to taste our 2012 Pinots as well as sample other wines made in the Willamette and Yamhill Valleys. This open house event will take place on November 22nd and 23rd from 11:00am through 4:00pm.

Oregonians produce all of this delicious food and wine in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.  Oregonians have a long legacy of preserving the state’s pristine ecology, first establishing their commitment to sustainable farming practices more than 100 years ago with the State’s first environmental law.  At Youngberg Hill Vineyards, we value the beautiful land we live and work on, and are proud of our green approach to wine country living.

What is most import to you about the environment in which your food and wine was grown?  Let us know in the comments below.

What Makes Some Wine Have Higher Alcohol Content Than Others?

November 4th, 2014 by Rachel

Wine grapesYou may have noticed that wine alcohol levels have slowly inched up over the years. While it was hard to find a wine that naturally reached 14% alcohol by volume 35 years ago, it’s pretty common now. This high alcohol content has been attributed to the changing palate of the modern drinker as well as to climate change.

The modern wine connoisseur (that’s you!) tends to want softer tannins and lower acidity. Translation: we want something immediately drinkable. While many people buy a bottle, take it home and drink it, very few have wine cellars where they can let the tannins in their delicious beverages mellow and age to perfection.

This means winemakers like Wayne can allow the grapes a little more hang time to collect some extra sunlight and sugar before harvest. Another advantage to allowing grapes to ripen more fully before the wine is created is there is a lower acidity to the wine. The intention of the harvest is to hit the sweet spot where the perfect amount of sugar intersects with the right amount of acid. In Oregon wine country, we also have to consider weather conditions. While we have had a bit of an Indian summer this year, there have been early cold spells in previous years, where the grapes had to be harvested just before the weather turned.

The ripeness of grapes when harvested, as well as any overripe grapes that sneak into a harvest can affect the overall alcohol content of the wine. As we have stated in previous articles, we hand harvest to ensure only the best grapes are used to create your wine. This means you don’t get grapes in your Youngberg Hill wine that we didn’t intend to use.

Once the fruit is harvested, the fermentation process eats up all those sugars and creates alcohol. Pinot Noir is naturally in the higher alcohol range – around 12-14% alcohol by volume on average. You can expect a much higher alcohol by volume in dessert wines like sherry or port.

Do you like the lower acidity and higher alcohol volume trend in wine? Let us know by commenting below.

How to Read a Wine Barrel

October 28th, 2014 by Rachel

Youngberg Hill Wine Barrel Reading a wine barrel sounds like a relatively simple process. You are looking at a label imprinted into the wood, right? There’s a little more to it than that. On the left you will see one of our new barrels for our estate Pinot Noir. On the top of the barrel is information about it. Some barrel manufacturers (called “cooperages” in the wine world) put more information on their barrels than others.

On this barrel we have:

  • Cadus is the name of the cooperage.
  • France is the source of the barrel.
  • Origine means the point of origin.
  • YH are the initials of Youngberg Hill. This barrel was made specially for us.
  • Troncais is the oak forest in France that the wood is from. There are six different forests this oak type comes from and each forest has specific characteristics.
  • French oak – 30 months air dried means the amount of time after harvesting the tree during which the wood is dried out in the open. After the wood is dried, the barrel is created.
  • M+ signifies that the inside of the barrel has been toasted a certain amount. In this case it was toasted to medium plus. The amount a barrel has been toasted contributes to the taste of your wine.
  • Slow extraction means that this barrel is best used when the wine will be in it for more than a year because the wood slowly interacts with the wine.

At Youngberg Hill we are very specific about our choice in barrels. We use white oak as it has been the standard in the winemaking industry for centuries. It brings out unique qualities in wine and allows wine to interact with it and through it. Youngberg Hill Pinot NoirOther wood has been experimented with, but winemakers around the world have come back to white oak.

The white oak we use for barrels is from France. French white oak barrels have been the barrel of choice for Pinot Noir producers the world over. The qualities we look for are:

  • The age of the oak trees.
  • The weather in which they are grown (cool so the growth is slower and the grain is more open.)
  • The drying conditions of the wood in an open air environment.
  • The manufacturing process of the barrel.

All of these qualities allow Pinot Noir to age beautifully. Every one of these qualities are found in French white oak barrels.

Big red wines like Cabernet, Borolo, Malbec and all those big reds in between can use a wider variation of oak barrels. They are thick skinned, big boned, heavy wines that can compete with other oaks more easily without losing the character of the wine. Pinot Noir is a delicate grape with thinner skins that can be easily overwhelmed by other oak options. French white oak has been found over the centuries to be subtle enough to interact with Pinot Noir.

What else would you like to learn about the Pinot-making process?  Let us know below.

Wine Pairing with Classic Halloween Candies

October 21st, 2014 by Rachel

Wine pairing for Halloween candyIt’s almost Halloween!  It’s time to break out the candy corn, gummy worms, mini Kit Kats and all the other treats we love.  While we try to convince ourselves that only kids enjoy candy on Halloween, we can’t really get away from the fact that adults indulge too.  So, don’t fight it.  Just make it an adult dining experience by pairing your treats with wine.  That way, it’s not even an indulgence.  It’s a culinary adventure!

Here are some classic Halloween candies, with wine pairing recommendations:

  • Candy Corn is one of those Halloween treats that incites extreme reaction.  You either love candy corn, or you despise it.  There is no middle ground.  This (fortunately) is not the case with wine pairing. There are a few whites that would go well with this traditional treat.  Try a big, buttery Chardonnay, Viognier, Riesling or Gewürztraminer while gobbling these goodies.
  • Gummy Worms make your palates pucker in a delicious way. You can try Pinot Noir or Malbec with these sugar-encrusted treats.
  • Skittles and Starburst both pair well with the bubbles and freshness of Moscato or Prosecco.
  • Caramel Apple for those who want to feel as if they are being healthy, while still indulging in a delicious treat, the caramel apple is the way to go. There are also several wines which pair well with this treat-on-a-stick.  These include: Muscat, Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauternes, or Pinot Gris.
  • Red Licorice or Red Vines pair perfectly with Pinot Noir.
  • Reeses Peanut Butter Cups or Peanut M&M’s go well with Port or Sherry.
  • Hershey’s Chocolate Bars, Kit Kats, and Milky Way Bars in those classic, individual sizes or in the lustworthy, family size can be paired with a jammy Zinfandel or Pinot Noir – or with a Merlot.

Feel like snacking on something a little more healthy?  Never fear!  You can still pair your roasted pumpkin seeds with Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Vert

Here’s to you and your Halloween wine pairing adventure!  Let us know in the comments below if you find any other fun wine and candy pairings.

Why Fall is the “On Season” for Oregon Wine Country

October 14th, 2014 by Rachel

Fall Oregon Wine Country - at Youngberg Hill Inn and Winery The end of the summer season is often when many vacation destinations close their doors. Not here in the Willamette Valley.  This is actually one of our busiest times of year.  Why is that?  Two words: Harvest Season.

Many wineries all around the Yamhill and Willamette Valleys are still filled with golden or purple grapes, getting a little more hang time or being enthusiastically harvested.

The grapes aren’t the only thing changing color. The leaves on the vines are turning too.  You haven’t seen Oregon wine country until you have seen row after row of gorgeous, fall color lighting up the vines. Our valley is a photographer’s dream. This is one of the reasons the Willamette Valley was listed in the top ten places to go leaf peeping in America.

The amazing fall foliage, the activity and excitement of harvesting grapes, and all that delicious wine make autumn the right time to visit wine country.  It’s truly gorgeous.Wildlife at Youngberg Hill

Additionally, because Youngberg Hill is a holistic vineyard which works with nature, this is a great time of year to see anything from elk to any number of birds.  Many animals can be seen on our grounds as well as at nearby locations like Cascadia State Park, Dexter State Recreation Site, and Jasper State Park.

Finally, for the those who want a break from the outdoors, Youngberg Hill is located by several cities with great shopping (local art, handmade chocolates, or artisan soaps, anyone?), delicious food, and – of course – plenty of wine.  There are also several microbrews available for those who want to add some variety to their palate.

Harvest season is the most exciting time of year to be on a vineyard in Oregon Wine Country. When’s your favorite time to visit?

A Few Fun Reasons to Visit to McMinnville in the Fall

August 26th, 2014 by Rachel

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Autumn is the perfect season for a Pacific Northwest adventure. As leafs change and the nights chill, McMinnville is full of unique events for the perfect vacation this fall.

 

August 31—Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon

Admittedly, it’s at the tail end of summer, but if you’re a runner, this race is a can’t-miss! The 13.1 mile course weaves through the heart of Oregon Wine Country here in the Yamhill Valley. The whole weekend is packed with events, starting with Friday’s Welcome Reception in Carlton. The race is followed by a free Wine and Music Festival and local winery tour.

September 5th-7thOregon Brews and BBQ

McMinnville is certainly well-known for the local wineries, but the Willamette Valley has an amazing selection of craft brews, too! This three-day event highlights more than 35 local breweries with live music and delicious BBQ, all supporting a great local cause, the St. James Catholic School andGhana Hope Foundation. The beer, food and fun can all be found at the Granary District in McMinnville.

September 13thCarlton Crush Harvest Festival

Fall in Yamhill Valley is always harvest time at the vineyards. To celebrate our collective love of wine, and all the vineyards mean to our community, there are many harvest festivals in the area. The Carlton Crush Harvest Festival is a free, all-day event with games, an arts and crafts market, contests and live music. Oh, and there’s plenty of wine too! If you really want to get your crush on, sign up for the Grape Stomp Competition and experience the most entertaining part of the winemaking process.

October 31stSafe and Sane Halloween on Third Street

Halloween seems to be the perfect mix between fun and hectic. So this year, why not let the businesses in Downtown McMinnville do all the planning for you? Bring the kids with you for hay rides, games, cartoons and more. From 4:00-5:30pm, they can even go trick or treating on Oregon’s Favorite Main Street!

Thanksgiving Weekend—Wine Country Thanksgiving

Over 160 local wineries open their doors on Thanksgiving weekend. There are special tasting events, live music and discounts. No two wineries celebrate the same, so try to see as many as you can! A nice glass of Pinot Noir and those beautiful autumnal colors across the vineyards make the perfect pairing.

 

Reasons You Must Visit the Oregon Wine Country

August 5th, 2014 by Rachel

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The Yamhill Valley is in the heart of the Oregon Wine Country. It’s filled with a rich history, compassion and great wine, of course. It is a huge part of our area’s economic, agricultural and social landscape.

 

 

 

  • Oregon Pinot Noir is famous, and rightfully so! In the 1960s and 70s, a group of wine entrepreneurs settled in the Yamhill Valley with pinot grapes on their minds. Two of those winemakers championed setting aside a significant part of the area for vineyards. This partnership with the state of Oregon has led to over four decades of agricultural and economic success in the area, not to mention amazing Pinot Noir!
  • In Oregon, wine means more than just the bottom line, there is a lot of care and dedication taken into providing the best product the right way.

Aug Blog 1- Pic 2In 1991, 18 wine producers started ¡Salud!, a charity committed to providing comprehensive health care for migrant workers at the vineyards. It was the first organization of its kind in the entire country.

  • When you visit the Oregon Wine Country, you’ll see how much pride is involved in what we do here. It is such a big part of our community that there are now multiple exhibits and archives keeping our rich history alive.
  • Aug Blog 1- Pic 3In 2011, Linfield College started the Oregon Wine History Archive, preserving the stories of our pivotal industry.
    • This year, the Oregon Historical Society established a temporary exhibit full of interactive displays and a tasting room. Clink! will be available through September 20.

 

For more information on the history of the Oregon Wine Country, we recommend this article from the Oregonian.