Archive for the ‘Willamette Valley’ Category

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?

Four Great Questions to Ask at a Winemaker Dinner

October 7th, 2014 by Rachel

Winemaker DinnerA winemaker dinner is a laid back, unpretentious food and wine pairing event which allows people to enjoy great food and wine along with excellent conversation.  It’s also a good time to pick a winemaker’s brain.  However, even at events designed for some question and answer, it can be hard to figure out what to ask. With our upcoming harvest winemaker dinner on October 25th, we thought we could give you some ideas for great questions you may want to ask the winemaker.

#1. Where in the world do your favorite wines originate?
The winemaker clearly chose his or her vineyard because of the ability of the terroir to grow specific grapes. However, the varietals grown come from a different location, like France or Italy.  The winemaker dinner is a great time to dig deep and learn more about the history of your wine.

#2. Can you explain why this wine pairs well with the food I’m eating?
Sometimes you’ll get a pairing that don’t make sense in your head – but is just right in your mouth. The winemaker and chef have gone over the food, down to the sauces, that pair just right with the wine served. Ask the winemaker why the pairings were made – you might be surprised to find that, without that particular sauce, your duck and Pinot Noir wouldn’t match well at all.

#3. What characteristics do you think we can expect in wine coming from the most recent/upcoming harvest?
It’s wine harvesting season!  This is the perfect time to pick the winemaker’s brain about what he expects to come out of this year’s bounty.

#4. What is the story of this particular wine?
The winemaker has the real in-depth knowledge behind that vintage and varietal of wine. Get the scoop.  Ask about the process of deciding your wine was ready for bottling and what the weather was like for that particular year. You’ll learn more about wine – and will likely hear a few fun stories along with way.

In the end, a winemaker dinner is time to sit back, relax, and enjoy. You can learn more about the wine you are drinking than you’d be able to at a restaurant – and catch up with friends. No matter why you attend, we hope to see you at the dinner this month!  Will you be able to come?  Click here to get the details.

McMinnville History and Geography

July 22nd, 2014 by Rachel

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Settled along the Yamhill River in the Willamette Valley, McMinnville is surrounded by vineyards and walnuts. It’s geography, a mere 35 miles southwest of Portland, McMinnville has a rich and quirky history of its own.

McMinnville’s founder, William T. Newby, settled in Oregon with the first wagon train in 1843, naming the town after his hometown in Tennessee.

Incorporated in 1876, McMinnville was already the county seat for Yamhill County.

Scholarly Pursuits

Linfield College was first founded in 1858 as the Baptist College at McMinnville. After a generous gift from Frances Ross Linfield in 1922, the school was renamed. The campus is continuously expanding for the over 2,500 students seeking a small, private, and liberal arts education.

Celebrations

McMinnville is also a city that loves to celebrate. There are two major festivals rooted in local history and full of character. This year marks the 54th Annual Turkey Rama, celebrating the once lofty turkey industry in Yamhill County. The first incarnation of the festival was in 1938 as the “Pacific Coast Turkey Exhibit.” Today there are still activities, prizes and a giant turkey barbeque.

The city has also hosted its very own UFO Festival for 15 years, in honor of the alleged UFO sighting in 1950 in nearby Sheridan. The picture of the flying saucer skyrocketed in popularity after being published in McMinnville’s newspaper. The festival is the largest gathering of UFO-enthusiasts in the Pacific Northwest and is second in the country only to Roswell, New Mexico’s.

July History Blog- Pic 2Wine, of course!

Because of its location in the lush Yamhill Valley, McMinnville is a major destination for Oregon vineyards. The area’s hills allow for a great diversity in wine, even among the famous Oregon Pinot grapes. In 2005, Youngberg Hill and seven other local wineries became members of the McMinnville Winegrower’s Association, a division of the larger Willamette Valley AVA.

Embrace McMinnville’s rich history and geography with these tours and maps:

http://www.youngberghill.com/our-area/wine-driving-tour/

http://www.youngberghill.com/our-area/attractions-map/

http://www.youngberghill.com/our-area/bicycle-tour-map/

 

Eight Reasons to Visit Yamhill Valley

June 24th, 2014 by Rachel

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Yamhill Valley is a fantastic place to visit.  Not only are you right in the middle of Oregon’s famous wine country, but also several of the 7 Wonders of Oregon are just down the road from here.  In fact, our Inn can be made a base of operations and your perfect getaway during your visit to the Willamette valley.

 

Here are eight great reasons to visit Yamhill Valley:

Location, location, location

The Inn is located right in the midst of Yamhill Valley in the heart of Oregon wine country – which is like Tuscany transplanted to the US.  We are not only a winery in our own right, but are surrounded by local wineries.  Additionally, our location feels secluded, but it is just a ten minute drive to the city of McMinnville – just in case you forgot any essentials when you were packing.

Wine (of course!)

Being in wine country means you have access to over 300 local wineries.  We offer many packages which include going out and exploring wineries throughout our fantastic valley.  Additionally, you can go out and explore on your own – and there are local car services that will get you back to the Inn safe and sound.

Local artisans

Our area is filled with artists.  Some chose the art of winemaking or of preparing amazing food.  Others use their skills to create wonderful paintings, ingenious crafts, incredible music, and more.  McMinnville celebrates local artists in their stores, at Farmer’s Market and during the Art and Wine Walk on the third Saturday of each month.

Craft beer

Oregon is known for many things, an organic lifestyle, amazing wine, foodies, and great beer.  Many local restaurants serve craft beers produced in locations all around Oregon.  There are local breweries which serve their handcrafted beers.  If you like beer as well as wine, we’ve got you covered.

Food, glorious food

Our area is a foodie’s dream.  With restaurants like Bistro Maison, the Joel Palmer House, and Nick’s Italian Cafe, there is no way you will go hungry.  Not only are there plenty of delicious places to eat, they stick with the Oregon philosophy of working with local ingredients.  This means what they serve is amazing and fresh.

Hiking and biking

Our recent article on hiking and biking in the Willamette Valley gives plenty of information on this topic.  There are native wetlands, rivers, and more to see on your hikes.  We also offer a bike tour package which give you an opportunity to cycle through wine country and take in the scenery.

Serenity

The views from the top of our hill are enough to allow anyone some time to reflect.  Youngberg Hill Vineyards and Inn are away from the hustle and bustle of the main city and we boast some of the best views in the valley.  The view of sloping hills, vines rustling in the breeze, and the mountain range in the horizon promote calm.  It gives everyone (including us) the long view of life.

Easy access to much of Oregon

Serenity may not be what you want all the time.  That’s fine.  There are plenty of great locations that are only an hour or two away from here, like the Oregon coast, Portland, and the Columbia Gorge.  The famous Powell’s City of Books is almost exactly an hour from here – and Voodoo Doughnuts is right next door.

We love our local area.  The peace, the easy access to excitement, and – of course – the amazing wine are all huge draws for us.  COMMENT BELOW: What makes you excited about visiting Oregon wine country?

 

Reasons to Visit the Willamette Valley for Summer

May 27th, 2014 by Rachel

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There are many reasons to visit the Willamette Valley for summer and the first official day of summer is fast approaching.  This means the vines are growing full steam ahead, flowers are in full bloom, and the temperatures are generally perfect.  At least, that’s what it means here in the Willamette Valley.

Not only is our valley absolutely gorgeous this time of year, it’s also just a stone’s throw from many other local sites and “must see” locations.  So, whether you are traveling from nearby Portland or Seattle – or if you’re coming from much farther away, here are just a few reasons to visit us this summer:

– It’s the perfect time to tour wine country by bike.  The scenery is fantastic, the weather is temperate without being roasting, and our roads are bicycle friendly.

– Local vineyards boast new growth, grapes, flowers, and great wine.  We are often compared to Bordeaux, France.  The views from our tasting room and several of the guest rooms in our Inn will show you why.

– The Oregon Coast (one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon) is only an hour away.  Several more wonders such as Mount Hood, the Columbia River Gorge, and Crater Lake can be seen on a day trip from here.

– We have over 150 wineries and tasting rooms in our area alone.  Our winery and Inn keeps things friendly enough for a newbie to wine, but we have enough around us to satisfy the most discerning wine aficionado.

– The International Pinot Celebration happens in summer – and it’s an event not to be missed.

There is so much more to do and see at our winery and in our valley this spring and summer.

We are thrilled to see what else 2014 will bring!

 

The Oregon Difference

April 22nd, 2014 by Rachel

April 2014 - Blog 3 - Pic 1Pinot Noir was first planted here in the Willamette Valley since 1965.  Oregonians have been taking care of their land and keeping family wineries going ever since.

As custodians of the land, we hold ourselves to a very strict standard.  We work to follow holistic and biodynamic farming practices which allow the soil, the grapes, and nature to work in perfect harmony.  This produces a higher quality grape and wine.

Not only do Oregon farmers in general and Youngberg Hill in particular take environmental stewardship seriously – the state requires our wines be the best in the country as well.  Oregon’s wine labeling regulations are the strictest in the US. There are many reasons we work so hard to preserve our land while making some of the best Pinot Noir out there.

The Oregon Difference

1st: The Willamette Valley is not just a place to live.  It’s a slice of Tuscany transplanted into America.  With proper stewardship of our land, we will be able to enjoy this land for generations to come.

2nd: We are passionate about wine.  The beauty of young grapes ripening into that perfect harvest.  The joy harvesting our grapes at just the right moment.  The shared excitement of shaping that harvest into a reflection of our land, the seasons, the weather, and the year.  These are what we love – and it’s a passion we want to share with you.

3rd: Our home is a part of a greater heritage.  That of the Oregon wine country.  We share it with you in the form of our wine and in the hospitality of our Inn.  We want that heritage to continue through our family and this winery for many, many years to come.

The wines produced here at Youngberg Hill are a reflection of our home and the land on which we live and grow.  Here’s hoping you have a chance to enjoy a little slice of Oregon.  Cheers!

Eight Tips for Planning Your Destination Wedding

April 15th, 2014 by Rachel

Destination Wedding

Destination Wedding

We host many weddings every year at Youngberg Hill.  Our recent award from the Oregon Bride Magazine for the Best All-Inclusive Venue in the Valley – and the fact that we win this “Best of” competition year after year goes to show that we are pretty great at providing the bride, groom, bridal party, and guests with exactly what they need.

 

This is why we are qualified to provide you with eight tips for planning your destination wedding:

Tip #1. Pick a location that is naturally beautiful.  You picked your out-of-town location because it had something about it you love.  Perhaps it is the surrounding wine country with the rolling hills which are reminiscent of Tuscany, maybe it’s the beauty of the vines themselves, or perhaps it’s the delicious wine.  No matter what it is you love about your destination, be sure to celebrate and capture its natural beauty during your special day.

Tip #2. Shop locally for your favors.  You may not be able to buy all your guests a bottle of Pinot, but perhaps you can give a bottle to each member of your bridal party.  Additionally, look at local chocolatiers, candle makers, and more for favors that would fit with your wedding and your budget.

Tip #3. Decide if you are planning an elopement or a wedding.  A destination elopement is completely possible and may be a better fit for you and your fiancé.  Many locations – including Youngberg Hill – are providing an elopement package along with personalized wedding options.

Tip #4. Get recommendations from the venue.  Chances are, your wedding venue has hosted many weddings and has an idea of which vendors will serve you best in the majority of scenarios.  If you aren’t from the location at which you are getting married – and you are planning from afar – a little local advice may go a long way in helping you plan the wedding of your dreams.

12884666534_6b9c66435a_b.jpgTip #5. A Save the Date is definitely required for your destination wedding.  It doesn’t have to be formal – an email sent out to all those you wish to attend about 8-12 months in advance will give your guests time to book flights and make arrangements.

Tip #6. Make a list.  List out anything you may need before you head to your destination location.  This way you can decide what you must bring to the location and what you can purchase or get done on-site.

Tip #7. Get there in advance.  You don’t want to be worrying about the details of your wedding on your wedding day.  Consider visiting your wedding location in advance and ironing out any details.  This will also give you the opportunity to shop locally, get an idea of the local flavor, and have a little pre-honeymoon getaway with your fiancé.

Tip #8. Plan to stay.  One great thing about having your wedding away from home is that you are already on vacation.  This means you can incorporate at your destination location into your honeymoon and enjoy the local landscapes, go wine tasting, or make day trips to local sights.

In the end, your wedding day is about the love you share with your significant other.  Be sure you are able to celebrate it with as little stress as possible.

 

Willamette Valley: The 8th Wonder of Oregon

March 11th, 2014 by Rachel

Youngberg Hill Vineyard
The View from Youngberg Hill

The View from Youngberg Hill

We think you’ll agree that there are way more than seven wonders of the world.  The traditional list of wonders even includes places that don’t exist anymore, like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, as well as places that are still with us like the Great Pyramid of Gyza.

But there are so many other wonders that more lists have been written – like: The Seven Wonders of the Natural World, The Seven Modern Wonders of the World, and even The Seven New Wonders of the World.  Travel Oregon has matched these lists with a list of their own: The Seven Wonders of Oregon.  These wonders include the Oregon coast, Mount Hood, Crater Lake, the Columbia River Gorge, the Wallowas, Smith Rock, and the Painted Hills.

 As residents of Oregon, we have to agree with this list of wonders.  And we’re going to have to raise you another wonder, Travel Oregon.  That wonder is: Willamette Valley,  the 8th Wonder of Oregon.

We know.  We know.  There’s a traditional limit to just seven wonders – and it’s so hard to choose which places are included in a list like this.  So, to help the decision-making process along, we’ve listed here why our valley is among the wonders of Oregon:

The Wine

Our valley is the perfect place to grow world-class pinot noir.  The soil is complex and rich.  The weather provides just the right amount of sun and rain to create the best environment for wine grapes to thrive.

Not only do grapes grow here, but there is a diverse  amount of life growing all around us.  We see birds, insect, grasses, trees, and flowers thrive throughout our valley.  This natural life is supported by healthy and organic farming practices utilized in most farms throughout the valley.  In fact, the Willamette Valley is the most studied river valley in the world. This leads us to:

The People 

When you ask why so many farmers have come to Willamette Valley, they will tell you about the terroir.  They will talk about the organic farming practices which are second nature to many farmers here.

The Willamette Valley is a close farming community filled with neighbors.  There are good people here, people you can trust to help you in a crisis and friendships that will last a lifetime.  One of the reasons so many have chosen the Willamette Valley as their home is the people.

What’s Nearby

The Willamette Valley is in a singular position.  You can view Mount Hood and the cascade mountain range from a variety of vantages throughout the valley – including right here at Youngberg Hill.  We are only an hour away from another wonder listed in the “7 Wonders of Oregon” – the Oregon Coast.  Three other wonders can be visited during a day trip – these are: Mount Hood, Smith Rock, and the Columbia River Gorge.

The valley itself has over 300 wineries, tasting rooms, and vineyards within driving or biking distance – including our own.  Wine lovers also tend to be foodies – and the valley doesn’t disappoint.  We have a ton of amazing restaurants and boutique food locations like chocolatiers, microbreweries, and cheesemakers.  There are gardens which celebrate Oregon’s amazing array of flora.  Want to enjoy a real view of Oregon?  There are helicopter and balloon rides available to view the valley and surrounding area.

So, although we know Travel Oregon had to limit the list to just seven wonders, we’ve decided to add one more.  We hope you’ll visit our valley – and even make it a central base from which you can visit many of the other wonders of Oregon.  We bet that the more you explore, the more wonders you can add to the list.  Cheers to you and yours!

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…