Archive for the ‘Youngberg Hill Wine’ Category

School’s Out For the Summer!

June 16th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

To be truthful, the girls are not excited about staying home and working all day, but it’s going to be a busy summer for them. Natasha is going to be working at all the on-site events, setting up and breaking down, and taking on a new expanded role.  By spending more time working in the vineyard, she will better understand the different phases the vines go through.  She also will be working in our garden to help harvest the organic vegetables.  As for fun, if you know Natasha you know she is passionate about books. She has a stack of them ready for her to escape into.

As for Jordan, she has a summer of song,  including a music camp with Aaron Meyer in Portland. She will be performing at the Artful Giving Blanket Concert in July in Troutdale and the Linfield Orchestra Benefit at Youngberg Hill.  She will not be involved in the events at the vineyard as much as her sister and will be working alongside her in the garden.  She is learning some aspects of the vineyard, but gets more engaged at harvest time.

For Aspen, it will be a summer of play. Not that the other two won’t get their play time in, but other than going along with her sisters and learning to swim without her floaty, she has no planned activities.  We do have some family time speckled throughout the summer.

There will be plenty of time for the girls to play, explore, and learn all summer. Our goal as parents is to ensure that by August the girls are dying to go back to school simply to avoid manual labor. While they may not appreciate it now, their summer chores will give them a keen sense of responsibility and work ethic, and at least an appreciation for the deliberate process of growing quality grapes.



Play with your Food and your Wine

June 9th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

When selecting a wine for dinner, many of us typically play it safe.  We tend to choose a wine we know and like.  It’s like driving the same route home every day without even thinking of it because we do it so often.  We recently had a wonderful experience playing with our food at the Wine Country Cooking Studio in Dundee with Chef Wendy Bennett.  It was an experience that was interactive, educational, creative, and hands on.  Something as simple as making a salad with ingredients you hadn’t thought of before but were right in front of you.   We played with the food and gained an appreciation we didn’t have before.  It got me thinking, why not play with wine the same way?  We love when we are able to share with guests how the grapes are grown and the wine is made; you can see them light up with discovery.    Everything comes together with an understanding of what you’re enjoying and why.  Yes, wine can be fun if you play with it.  We see it daily in our tasting room when a guest might taste our Pinot Blanc, or something else they haven’t tried before.  Or when someone visits us from another state, and experiences Oregon Pinot Noir for the first time.

 When was the last time you played with your wine?

A Wine Club with Lagniappe

June 2nd, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

What was the funny word again, lagniappe (lan-yap)? It is a tradition in Spanish business trade for the seller to offer something beyond what is being purchased as a gesture of appreciation toward their customer.  We at Youngberg Hill have also adopted this tradition, to ensure that our wine club members receive a little something more than our wonderful wines with their membership.

It starts with no sign-up fees.  Ours is a pay-as-you-go membership and the shipments are fully customizable.  Care to pick up your shipments at the tasting room?  We throw two pick-up parties a year so you can save some cost on shipping and sample your latest acquisitions.

Additionally, the discount assigned to your wine club membership level is good for all Youngberg Hill purchases, including stays at the Inn.  Tasting fees are waived for you and your friends.  You can restock your cellar any time, again using your discount, and for those special occasions you might be able to talk us out of something from our wine library.

And for those in the Pinot Club, they also receive passes to two winemaker’s dinner served at Youngberg Hill.

As an added token, if you as a wine club member bring an empty 375ml bottle with you on your next visit to Youngberg Hill, it will not leave empty.

It is time for you to join us!   Click on this link and you will soon be sipping some of the best wines in the Valley, and enjoying the royal treatment atop the Hill.



Biodynamics and How Nature Works

May 26th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

We are often asked what the term “biodynamics” means. My response is simply that it’s an holistic approach to farming.  Just as a naturopath looks at an illness by considering all aspects of the body, we solve agricultural  problems by looking at the entire farm, and seeing where improvements can be made.  Just as one’s own body health includes diet, exercise, cleanliness, etc., so the farm’s health is made up of different elements all working together.  We are constantly aware of how changes in one area of the farm impacts other areas, either positively or negatively, and work to minimize the negative.

One such example is the need to reduce the impact of an particular insect on the farm – yellowjackets. We will not use poisons because it will have an adverse effect on other, non-harmful insects. We do not even necessarily want to kill off the yellowjackets – just reduce their numbers, which in turn will reduce their negative impact on the farm.

To achieve this, we capture several of them in a trap. We then use a biodynamic process to combine the remains of the yellowjackets with some other materials to make a tea.  That tea, which acts as a natural repellant, is then sprayed in those areas that we want the wasps to avoid.

Not only have we noticed a significant reduction in yellowjackets in the areas that were treated with the tea, but we have also seen an increase in beneficial insects and birds in those same areas.

Nature helps us strike a balance on the farm, and as long as we are working  with that balance in mind, we, along with our grapes, garden, animals and ultimately our wine, all thrive.

Wayne Bailey will be hosting a Biodynamics class at Youngberg Hill on July 26th.  Visit our calender of events  for more details.


May 5th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

STAR DATE April 22nd, 2012:  We saw the first evidence of bud break; the first event of the grape growing season, when the new buds break open, and the first leaves and shoots begin to grow.  April 21st and 22nd were our first truly warm days of the year – over 70 degrees.  Because it was already late April, the vines had pent up energy and were ready to burst with the advent of some warm sunshine.  So last Monday morning as I took my early walk through the vineyard, I was thrilled to see that overnight the vines had exploded with new leaves.

Why is this so exciting?  First, it is the beginning of the grape growing process.  This is what life on Youngberg Hill is all about!  Second is the timing – after two years of very late seasons, seeing life begin on the vines in the third week of April causes great expectations as to what the vintage might bring.  Everything for the rest of the season is more or less determined by when bud break occurs.  We still have six more months of nurturing and coaxing, by us AND the weather, before we have fruit in the barn and can declare it a successful vintage. But with a more timely bud break, and warmer weather predicted for May, it is cause for excitement.  Last year, by the end of June, we had had only four days of temperatures reaching or exceeding 70 degrees.  As of today, we have already had three days above 70.

Don’t misunderstand – I am not anticipating a hot year, nor am I hoping for one.  Because I am influenced by the French style of winemaking, and because of where our vineyard is located, I much prefer a cooler growing season.  That said, gathering grapes in October is preferable to a November harvest.

Based on your experience with wine, which type do you prefer? A hot vintage that tends to be bigger, more fruit forward, and higher in alcohol; or a cooler vintage that is more elegant, balanced in fruit and earth flavors, and lower in alcohol?



April 28th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

The answer: It depends.

As a purist, who received his wine indoctrination in France, I believe there is no substitute for cork. That answer is based on the intent for wine to be cellared for decades, easy access to cork in France, minimal concern for recycling, and most wine being consumed locally.  Cork has the benefit of being a slow emitter of oxygen into the bottle over a long period of time. The risk is that cork can sometimes have a bacteria that will cause the wine to go bad over time. That risk is small (2-3%) and getting smaller as suppliers are getting better at detection and cleaning.  However, one customer opening one tainted bottle is one too many for me. And if the customer lives far from the winery, replacement is also expensive.

From an engineering perspective, screw caps are a no-brainer. They provide a cleaner, safer closure than cork. Therefore, I am confident that when anyone opens a bottle of our wine anywhere in the world, if it has been handled properly, it will be as good or better than when it went into the bottle. There is good data to suggest that screw caps also allow a minimal amount of oxygen into the bottle for aging. However, research indicates that fewer than 10% of bottles purchased are cellared for more than one year, so aging is much less of a concern. Screw caps are arguably more environmentally sustainable, and when they are recycled they have a lower carbon footprint than cork.

When we bottle our wine at Youngberg Hill, different aspects of quality come to my mind.  My first concern is that when anyone opens a bottle of Youngberg Hill, it has to be good; therefore the screw cap wins. Next is the environment, with many arguments on both sides, but sustainability favors the screw cap. Third is the matter of aging, and given the purchasing and cellaring habits of today’s wine lovers, this is just not an issue, so cork is not necessary.

To be continued.


April 14th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

Harvesting the grapes from Youngberg Hill is exciting, exhilarating, exhausting, and down right fun. What makes this time of year so much more enjoyable is the camaraderie of neighbors and friends who come to the vineyard to help out. It reminds me of the old family farm days when neighbors came together to help each other plant and harvest. As soon as we decide when we are going to harvest the grapes, we put out an APB to an ever-growing list of individuals who have asked to help out. We also let our friends on Facebook know when we are harvesting, and invite them to join in.  Even our guests staying at the Inn come down to the vineyard before breakfast to get their hands purple.

Many folks who help in the vineyard then follow us to the winery to help with sorting and other activities.  Other volunteers come to the winery to help out during bottling, and hopefully get a taste of the new vintage from the barrel.

Friends come from next door, and as far away as Kansas City, Iowa, Atlanta, Seattle, and of course, Portland. Some come for a one-time experience. Others return year after year to enjoy the uniqueness of each season. Some come back two years later to purchase the particular vintage they helped create.

And year after year, as the grapes come in from the fields, are sorted and crushed, we wind down the activities with a harvest celebration dinner.  And we all come together once more, to share stories, laugh over mishaps, and anticipate the wine to come.  We appreciate the extra hands during harvest and other times of the year, but the final dinner is also a celebration of the love and friendship that goes into creating a great bottle of wine.


April 7th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

Last month we had the pleasure of welcoming to Youngberg Hill Ornithology Professor Don Powers of George Fox University, and nearly two dozen of his current and former wildlife biology students. Professor Don and his group conducted on March 17 the first ever Youngberg Hill Vineyards Native Bird Study.

It was a lucky day for bird-spotting, as forty different native species were identified in less than three hours! Highlights included a gorgeous Pileated Woodpecker, Merlins, Kestrels and a Northern Harrier Raptor. Our resident eagles made a regal appearance soaring over the vineyard rows. The students were an enthusiastic bunch, tramping through the muck of the vineyard and recording everything they saw.

We ended the experience with a hearty lunch in the warmth of the dining room. If you have been following our blogs this winter, you are probably well aware of our ongoing trouble with the non-native European starlings that eat so many of our grapes during harvest time. We were especially pleased to see that only one or two starlings were sighted, and that the avian diversity of our vineyard ecosystem looks very healthy.

Professor Don was very impressed by the species count and said that if the weather had been better (it rained, of course!) we would have seen even more native species. This initial effort was so successful that we have decided to monitor our native bird population’s health on a regular basis by conducting quarterly surveys with Dr. Powers and his wonderful George Fox students.

Upon the completion of our new vineyard panorama deck, we will also be launching a “Wet Your Beak” wine tasting, in honor of our feathered friends. Imagine spotting colorful native birds while sipping our tasty organically grown flight of Pinot noirs.

Now that’s our kind of birding!

A New Generation of Winemaking: A Father’s Tale

March 19th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

Winemaker, Wayne, and his 12-year-old daughter, Natasha, each wrote about their own experiences as farmers and winemakers. Below is Wayne’s version…

When we began this journey of growing grapes at Youngberg Hill in Oregon, we did so with the vision of keeping the vineyard in the family for decades.

In fact, when discussing our move to organic farming practices and our evolution to  biodynamic farming, one of the reasons we did so was for the earth and the vines to be healthier 50 years from now than they are today. As in many endeavors, our goal is for our daughters to some day desire to be a part of the business.

Some of our fondest memories as kids were growing up on the farm, and we hope our girls will develop those same memories.  Growing up on the farm is a great way to grow up, to be close to nature, learn from nature, and to explore. Our girls get a lot of chances to do that every day.

We spend time with the girls in the vineyard to educate them on what is going on in the vineyard. At each stage of the vines growth during the summer, we walk the vineyard and discuss what is going on. As the fruit is ripening, we take the girls out to measure sugar levels and Jordan and Natasha have become very good at using the spectometer to do this.

When harvest time arrives, and we choose a date to harvest some fruit, we keep the girls out of school to help. They get clippers and a bucket to pick fruit along side the other workers.

Once the fruit is picked and we take it to the winery; the girls get on the sorting table and clean fruit with everyone else. They get a good appreciation for what needs to be done to get the best fruit to make the best wine.

During fermentation and barreling, they also spend time in the winery learning the process and the evolution that the wine goes through.

 What are your hopes for your children? How do you connect with them? What challenges do you face in instilling them with the same types of experiences you had? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

A New Generation of Winemaking: A Daughter’s Tale

March 18th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

Winemaker, Wayne, and his 12-year-old daughter, Natasha, each wrote about their own experiences as farmers and winemakers. Below is Natasha’s version…

A lot of people love a certain thing about their job. For me it’s blending wines. In my opinion blending wines is not about checking the sugar levels or the ounces of alcohol it has. To me it is about creating something new, something different that people can enjoy. Adding flavor to flavor, spice to sweet, I feel as if I did something that only I could do: To make our beautiful new flavor burst inside someone’s mouth and have our hard work make the people pause for one moment and think about what it took to make that single drop of sun shine that came out of their bottle and into their glass.

Another thing I enjoy is taking pride in every single groaning branch and laughing leaf that my family has. I love nature, I don’t believe that not one of you readers has not fallen in love with one of Nature’s wonders – I believe one of you at one point stood and thought  “wow” to a symphony of trees or canyons. That is what I feel every day that I see, smell, feel, or work the land that I’m proud to call my family’s.

Not only does our natural beauty that is named Youngberg Hill make me proud, but it inspires me. You see I love to read and write fantasy novels, and this place creates a lot of my settings in the books I write. When it rained, snowed, and shined here, in my mind I created small settings for any story that I could write.

This is my book of inspiration, and as my teacher would say, the setting is only the first chapter.

Something I’m looking forward to:

A lot of kids can’t wait to get and drive in their first car. Well I can wait, but what I can’t wait for is to learn to drive our tractor.

Unlike most girls I don’t focus on girly stuff. Some kids are like me; one of my friends is even more tomboy than me. But that is not the point. I want to learn to drive the tractor because then I can help more with my family’s work. I can help load the crates at harvest, (one of my favorite times of the year) and help with the driveway when it snows. It would be so important to me just to do more of anything around my home.