Archive for the ‘Youngberg Hill Wine’ Category

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!

 

 

 

 

How to Make Your Wine Country Wedding Unique

June 10th, 2014 by Rachel

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A wine country wedding is always a unique and beautiful affair.  There are a million photo ops among the vines, the setting is simply fantastic, and of course the wine you serve will be superb.  But what can you do to make your wedding even more unique?  Here are a few fun ideas:

1. Have your guests sign a wine bottle. With metallic sharpies and other permanent markers, it’s pretty simple to use a wine bottle as an alternative guest book – or as an accompaniment to your guest book.

2. Choose local.  This may not be a destination wedding for you.  Perhaps you live in the breathtaking beauty that is Oregon wine country. However, your guests are probably not all locals.  Finding fun and appropriate gifts or accents for your wedding that really speak to the place can help you stand out.  You can pair local cheeses or fruits with the wine you serve, provide local jam or candies as your gift to your guests, or ask your florist to create bouquets and center pieces with local flowers.

3. Take advantage of your landscape.  Wine country has a very specific feel.  There are farming and earthy elements to play with as well as the class people naturally associate with wine itself.  Play off of this with the decorations you use throughout your wedding.  Incorporate wine barrels, wine bottles, wine glasses, and/or wine corks into your wedding decorations.

4. Add a little extra wine to your ceremony or the celebration afterwards.  A couple of ideas are:

  • You and your partner can pour wine from two decanters into one glass and drink from the glass.
  • Another idea is: You and your partner can write love letters, add them to a box carrying a bottle of wine that will age well and pledge to open the box, read the letters and drink the wine in a set amount of years.  We have a friend who did this and one of her guests built the box for her and her husband.  The letters and wine are waiting for their 10 year anniversary.

5. Remember that it’s a celebration!  Many brides get mired down in the details of their wedding.  While this is completely understandable, remember this is a celebration of your love.  Be sure to inject your own personality into your wedding and make it uniquely you.

Oregon wine country is one of the most beautiful places to have a wedding – and Youngberg Hill is particularly gorgeous because we have amazing views along with our vineyard.  Take advantage of the natural beauty surrounding your wedding and infuse it with your joy.  Cheers to you and your partner!

 

The Elements of a Great Harvest

June 3rd, 2014 by Rachel

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The elements of a great harvest are both unique and vital to a successful vintage.  Harvest times depends upon many factors, including the year’s weather conditions, crop size, and ripeness.  The decision of when to pick the grapes has a huge impact on the wine’s complexity, flavor, and richness.  Grapes picked too young can fall short in these factors – while overripe grapes can add too much sugar and alcohol to the wine.  The perfectly ripe grape harvest is something every winemaker seeks.

Additionally, great harvest times for every type of wine varies – depending on where the grape is grown and the type of grape.  The grape of choice in many Pacific Northwest vineyards is Pinot, which is usually harvested anytime in fall – depending on the year’s weather.  This is true here in Youngberg Hill and is true for many wineries in the Willamette Valley.

Determining harvest time includes working out how sweet the grapes are.  Sweetness/sugar levels will affect the amount of alcohol in the wines.  Think back for a second…what are the sweetest grapes you have eaten?  If you thought raisins, you were on to something.  Dried fruit has more sugar in it than fresh, perfectly ripe fruit.  The last thing you want in your Pinot Noir or Pinot Gris is a oversweet, raisiny taste and an alcohol level that overwhelms the complexity and depth the wine could show if the grapes were ripe during harvest.

As sugar levels in wine grapes rise, acid levels fall. You want the perfect balance of these two factors to create a well-balanced wine.  With our wine, we want to showcase the land and the grapes – this means the wine itself must be balanced perfectly to allow these amazing factors to shine through.

Another important aspect in determining harvest time is the physiological ripeness of the grapes. This isn’t just tasting the grapes and deciding they taste good enough to eat – we have to take a look at the whole grape including the seeds, skin, and stems.  If those aren’t ripe, they will affect the wine flavor.

Deciding upon the perfect harvest time is a heart stopping procedure that causes plenty of excitement and anxiety each and every year.  But, I think you’ll agree that we hit the nail on the head with our 2013 harvest.  Our newest Pinot Gris is out and we think you’ll find it’s smooth and stunning.

 

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!

 

Six Tips for Pairing Wines

April 29th, 2014 by Rachel

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Finding the perfect meal for your wine can be a daunting process.  There seems to be a ton of rules and regulations which you should follow – and often these are contradictory.  This can make any wine lover feel as if they need a personal sommelier in their home at all times.  Unfortunately, that option is rarely practical. Instead of giving up and resorting to water at your mealtimes, here are six tips for pairing wines with your meals – or vice versa.

 

Tip #1: It’s all a matter of taste.  While there are some very general rules – like whites usually go with fish and chicken, while reds often go with red meat, these aren’t hard and fast rules.  Instead, think about wine and food pairings which you have enjoyed in the past.

Perhaps you had a great Pinot Noir with a delicious mushroom dish.  Be sure to consider what about the wine pairing worked for you.  What were the notes and textures you enjoyed most about the wine? Consider why that wine worked well with the food you ate.

Tip #2: When in doubt, try a medium-bodied wine.  The middle of the road may not make the perfect pairing, but it can be a great safety net when you really have no idea what to pair with your food.

Tip #3: Take a look at the label.  Does it say what kind of flavors the wine has?  Match those flavors with your meal.  For example, the note of pineapple in your white may go great with fish or some asian cuisines, but could taste very strange with pesto.  A young red wine may work really well with bitter foods like olives or radicchio, but could taste pretty odd with pecorino.

Tip #4: Experiment.  One of the best ways to discover your own taste and what food and wines work best for you is to try and pair foods with wines.

Try this: Buy or make small appetizer portions of your forthcoming meal.  Next, taste the wine, then the food and see if they pair well.  If not, look at the characteristics of the food and the wine.  Were you pairing a high acidity food with a high acidity wine?  Was the wine so full bodied that it overwhelmed the delicate dish?  Experimentation may lead you down a culinary path you would not have otherwise discovered.

Tip #5: Don’t just consider the type of food – also look at how it’s cooked.  A rule we all hear is to pair fish with white – but if you’re eating a hearty fish stew, a Pinot Noir might be a better match than a Chardonnay.  Additionally, beef is normally paired with a big red wine, but a super spicy beef chili may work better with a Pinot Grigio or other white wine.

Tip #6: Don’t make things too complex.  If you know you have a wonderful, complex bottle of wine that you really want to enjoy, keep the food simple.

In the end, it’s always about the “yuk or yum” factor.  Meaning, if you like the wine pairing – that’s what really counts.  These tips are just a way to help you get to the “yum.”

Does the Order You Taste Wine in Matter?

April 9th, 2014 by Rachel

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There are many methods of wine tasting, so does the order you taste wine in matter? Generally, when you go to a vineyard for a tasting, the winery will provide wine from their latest bottling. This is a great way to get a feel for the variety of wine provided by the winery as well as a feel for the terroir (meaning soil, climate, and area in which the grapes were grown.)

Another fantastic way to get an in-depth understanding of a vineyard and its wines is a vertical tasting.  This is the process of tasting the same wine from the same winery, but from successive years.  For example, you could taste our Jordan Pinot Noir from 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008.  This type of tasting allows you to identify the thread that ties the wines together.  As you taste progressively older wines, the tannins mellow, which can help you understand the evolution of the wine itself.

Finally, there is a horizontal tasting.  This is often not something you will do at a winery, but is something you may participate in at a wine bar or wine shop.  A horizontal tasting involves trying similar wines from similar regions – all of the same year.  For example, you could do a horizontal tasting of Pinot Gris produced in the Willamette Valley.  This type of tasting gives one a concept of how the wine in the area can vary due to the style and relative location of each winery within one region.

A fun way to spice up a horizontal tasting is to do a “blind” tasting.  You could blindfold yourself and taste each type of wine – but we think that way may lie accidental spillage – and no one wants to waste good wine.  Instead, the server providing you with the tasting simply puts a bag over the label of each bottle.  Once the tasting is over, they reveal the wineries you tasted.  You may want to try a second round of tastings after the wineries are revealed, just so you know which producer’s wine you enjoyed the most.  The answer may surprise you, which is the point of a blind tasting.

No matter how you go about tasting wine, the point is for you to enjoy the experience.