Archive for the ‘Wineries’ Category

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.

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

July History Blog- Pic 1

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/

 

How Does Grafting Wine Grapes Work?

July 1st, 2014 by Rachel

July Blog 1 - Pic 1Many wine grapes in the US are grafted on – meaning the root of the grape plant isn’t the exact same strain as the top of the plant.  This is often a way of strengthening delicate grape types by giving it a hardier or more pest resistant root system.

Grafting wine grapes can also be used by winemakers to replace existing grapes with a new type.  So, if a winery wanted to grow Chardonnay where they were growing Pinot Noir, they would only have to graft Chardonnay grapes onto the existing roots.  This means a winery can begin producing the new grapes much more swiftly than if they had dug up their previous grapes and planted a whole new grape plant.

Why do Many Wineries Graft?

The majority of wine grapes you hear about are grafted onto rootstock due to an American pest. Back before we had officials to check whether certain plants carried disease or bugs that the ecosystem of other countries can’t handle, American vines were important to England and Europe.

Unfortunately, these vines came with a little pest that attack grapes.  The wine grapes in these areas had no natural resistance to the pest – so wine production was almost halted in Europe for a time. After the pest was discovered, winemakers developed a work-around.  They grafted their grapes to American rootstock, which has a resistance to the pests.

The practice of grafting in order to improve a grape varieties’ chance of survival continues to this day.

How to Graft

The process of grafting is pretty simple, but requires a lot of skill and expertise. Basically:

1. The root onto which the plant will be grafted is planted and allowed to establish itself.

2. Any trunks growing from the root are cut down to the ground at a spot which is approximately the same size as the trunk of the plant to be grafted.

3. A cut is made both in the trunk and the plant which is to be grafted on.  The plant and trunk are notched together.

4. They are then tied together with a material to keep the graft in place.

5. Soil is used as an additional support and as a moist surface which will help the plant heal more swiftly.

In the end, you have the varietal you want to grow attached to a root which will give it the protection and nutrients it needs to produce fantastic wine.  We can all raise a glass to that!