Archive for the ‘Youngberg Hill Wine’ Category

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.

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.

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.

What is the Best Harvesting Method?

September 16th, 2014 by Rachel

Sept Blog 3 - Pic 1When it comes to our land, we always go for the most organic, sustainable and holistic  method here at Youngberg Hill.  This is because we believe the method that works for Mother Nature is the method that will work best for our wine.  Our wine philosophy extends to using the best harvesting method for our grapes.

 

That said, there are two basic ways to harvest grapes.  One is by hand and one is by machine.  Of course, a winery may choose to include some machines into processes before or after the harvest – like a destemmer or a tractor.  But the harvest itself can be done either by hand or by machine.  We will consider these two methods:

Mechanical Harvesting

One of the greatest advantages of mechanical harvesting – and why many large winemakers choose this type of harvesting – is speed.  Just as is the case in making manufacturing pretty much anything, when you add machines, things go faster.  This means a large, corporate winemaker might be tempted by mechanical harvesting to save money.

Another reason why speed is important to these large grape growers is  they don’t want their grapes to become overripe.  This can create bad wine that needs a lot of extra additives to make it palatable.

Hand Harvesting  

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Harvesting grapes by hand has a major advantage over mechanical harvesting.  That is: quality of fruit.

Hand harvested grapes are more precisely what we want in our wine.  This is because the person harvesting the grapes can consider what  they are harvesting as they go.  There is another process later, during winemaking, during which people are able to go through the harvest again and pick out any unwanted grapes, stems, leaves, etc.  But the hand harvest is the first line of defense against bad bunches.

This extra sorting power may not seem like it makes a big difference in the quality of wine produced, but it actually does.  Not only are there more eyes on the grapes that do go in  to your wine, many substandard grapes (unripe grapes or raisins) can be removed before they get to the crusher.  When you consider that it takes about 30  vines of grapes to make one barrel of wine – you see where the difference comes in.   Say there were 5 raisins and 10 unripe grapes, plus one leaf per cluster.  That’s about 200 raisins and 400 unripe grapes – plus 40 leaves that hand harvesting removed from that barrel of wine.

Another reason behind our hand harvesting preference is that Pinot Noir is a delicate fruit.  The process of machine harvesting punctures the fruit slightly, so in order to maintain a full cluster of intact grapes, we have to hand harvest.

Hand harvesting is one of the many ways we stay true to our grapes and the land which produced them.  Come taste the difference!

 

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.

 

 

 

The Basic Steps of Winemaking

July 15th, 2014 by Rachel

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The basic steps of winemaking are a mix of chemistry and alchemy.  The process turns grapes into something which has sparked the imagination of many for generations.

 

As poet Robert Louis Stevenson said “Wine is bottled poetry.”

 

While winemaking is both an art and a skill, there are specific steps one must take in order to make something they can call wine.  Here are the very basic steps of winemaking:

1. Harvest perfectly ripe grapes.  Remember, you need about 600-800 grapes to get one bottle of wine.

2.  The grapes, once picked, must be inspected for quality.  You don’t want any rotten grapes or raisins sneaking in to your wine.  Additionally, the grapes must be destemmed.

3.  The wine grapes are crushed and either fermented in their own skins (if it’s a red wine you’re going for) or the skins are removed (for white wine).

4. Fermentation requires that yeasts grow and begin to eat the sugar contained in the grapes and make alcohol.  Many wineries help this process along by adding yeast cultures.

5. Any sediment is removed and the wine matures in barrels of whichever type the winemaker chooses. Some wines have very little sediment removed while others are as filtered out as possible.

6. The wine is bottled, corked, and labeled for your purchase!

This is a very, very stripped down version of winemaking.  Some of the biggest factors in winemaking are time, tasting, and testing.  All of these help a winemaker decide when to bottle, how much to filter, and more.

Here’s to the magic of winemaking!

 

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?

 

Do You Have to Let Your Wine Breathe?

June 17th, 2014 by Rachel

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Most of us opening a bottle of wine want to drink it right away.

 

Our faces might look like those of Marshall and Lily in “How I Met Your Mother” when they are told they have to wait 30 minutes to let their wine breathe.

 

 

So, the real question is – do you have to let your wine breathe?

First of all, it’s always up to your taste.  If you open a bottle, pour the wine into a glass and decide “Hey, this is delicious” then don’t let us stop you.  It’s that famous “yuck or yum” factor Wayne always talks about.

But, if you’re wondering why you’d let a wine breathe and how this action will affect taste, read on.

“Letting your wine breathe” is a pretty simple process.  The idea is that, a young red wine or even a mature red wine need to be mixed with air for a short period of time (meaning about 1-2 hours for a young wine and around 30 mins for a mature wine) in order to allow the wine to achieve its full aromatic and flavor potential.  Note that very old wine, whites, or champagne don’t need to breathe.  They can be drunk right away.

A common mistake made in letting your wine breathe is simply popping the cork and letting the wine bottle sit out for a while.  This doesn’t actually let the air mix in with much wine at all.  Your best option is decanting the wine in a decanter.  But you don’t have to get that complicated.  You can simply pour your wine into your glass, swirl it around, and then let it sit for a short period of time.

Finally – don’t let your wine sit too long.  If you’re planning on drinking one bottle over an entire evening, it may be a good idea to simply decant by the glass.  You don’t want your wine to turn vinegary.

As with everything in the wine world, letting your wine breathe is a choice that you should make only if it’s something that improves the taste of your wine to your palate.  It’s all about the yuck and yum.  Enjoy your wine in the way that tastes best to you!