Archive for the ‘Youngberg Hill Pinot Gris’ Category

Making White Wines in The Willamette Valley

October 19th, 2015 by Nicolette Bailey

IMG_2086What is the difference between making white wines or red wines in the Willamette Valley? The main difference is that rather than leaving the juice from the grape on the skins after destemming, whites wines typically are not destemmed and the grapes juice is immediately pressed off the skins, stems, and seeds. Second, while red wine is fermented over a 12 to 14 day period at warm temperatures (75 to 80 degrees), white wines are typically fermented over a longer period, 30 plus days, at cooler temperatures around 60 degrees. Red wines are also typically fermented to dry meaning all the sugar has been converted to alcohol. With white wines, that could vary significantly from a very sweet wine (stopping fermentation before the sugar is all converted) all the way to bone dry (no residual sugar).

Depending on the varietal, white wines may go directly from stainless steel tanks to bottle within four months or go into barrel for several months before bottling. For example, our Pinot Gris goes directly from tank to bottle and is released about six months after harvest. Our Pinot Blanc goes into neutral oak barrels for a couple of months just to allow the wine to age a little more. Our Chardonnay is put in once used barrels for six to eight months to provide some slight oak character while retaining all the fruit profile. They process isn’t done just in the Willamette Valley but are standard practices in the wine industry.

blog action photo tasting room sing

The History of Pinot Noir and Why it is THE Willamette Valley Grape

September 22nd, 2015 by Rachel

Pinot NoirPinot Noir is one of the earliest varieties of grape cultivated and used for making wine. Pinot has been grown in the “Slope of Gold” in Burgundy, France for many hundreds of years. There are many factors that make Burgundy an amazing place to grow Pinot Noir. These include:

  • Gentle sloping hills
  • Longer spring and fall seasons
  • Soil that drains well
  • Cooler temperatures

Fortunately, the Willamette Valley and Yamhill Valley have very similar growing conditions. We have the cooler temperatures, the longer spring and fall seasons and unique soil. The terroir here in the Willamette Valley imparts specific tastes to our Pinot Noir that makes it very uniquely our own.

One aspect of our land allows us to really bring out specific and unique tastes in our wine. That is: the soil. Each block here at Youngberg Hill has very specific soil types, and you can taste this in the wine itself.

For example, the Bailey block is composed primarily of volcanic rock and shale while the Natasha block features mainly marine sedimentary soil. When you taste Pinot Noir created from each of these distinct blocks in the same year, you can tell they are distinct.

To compare the different soils in another way: the 2012 Jordan Pinot Noir pairs well with red meat and game, while the 2012 Natasha Pinot Noir pairs with duck, salmon, and pork. Both are created from Pinot Noir grapes, but they have distinct flavors.

We are very lucky to have such a perfect climate for Pinot Noir here in the Willamette Valley. It’s much like living in a little slice of Burgundy, France.

Don’t believe us? Come visit and enjoy our lovely rolling hills, temperate climate, and fabulous wines for yourself!blog action photo tasting room sing

Can you Drink Wine with Breakfast?

August 18th, 2015 by Rachel

 Drink Wine with BreakfastThe short answer to “Can you drink wine with breakfast” is “YES!” But we have a longer answer below.

Wine and beer have been breakfast, lunch, and dinner drinks for hundreds of years. There was a stigma against water when water purification was in its infancy and alcoholic beverages were considered safer. Because we have such ready access to clean water, juice, coffee, and tea, we rarely think about drinking anything alcoholic in the morning. When we do, it’s often a mixed drink like a mimosa or bloody Mary. However, wine at breakfast should be added to your “special occasion” repertoire. Here are five tips for making your special breakfast or brunch even better by adding a glass of wine:

#1. Go beyond bubbles. Champagne or brut at breakfast are, admittedly, delicious. Their acidity helps them pair well with foods like eggs and bacon. However, there are other wonderful, high-acid wines out there. For example, the Youngberg Hill 2013 Cuvee and our 2014 Aspen Pinot Gris have the right acidity to work with breakfast foods. Other wines that have higher acid levels can include Furmint and Chablis.

#2. Go all out. If you are going to have wine with breakfast, don’t just eat a muffin and call it done. Make breakfast an occasion to be remembered with all of your favorite foods. The guests at our inn are partial to our cornish baked eggs and honey baked bacon, salmon hash, or pancetta tarts. Be sure to make your breakfast an event!

#3. Be bold and try red. Red wine in the morning can give you nice kick, much like a bloody Mary. A pleasant Pinot Noir might be the perfect fit with a breakfast filled with salmon or pork.

#4. Think pink. A delicious Rosé may help you get your brunch started out right and can help clear the palette for what is to come.

#5. End with ice wine. This dessert wine may be just what everyone needs as they sit around the table, full of food and wine. It’s also great paired with a final, sugary treat like strudel.

Let us know if you have had wine at breakfast!


Growing Wine Grapes, from Budbreak to Harvest

August 11th, 2015 by Rachel

Wine GrapesThere are many significant parts of the wine grape growing process. Any plant growth is slow and steady and wine grapes are no exception. However, we wanted to share the points in the growth of our grapes that make us jump for joy each and every year. Here is a rapid breakdown of what it takes every year for us to grow the grapes we use to create delectable wines:


Our wine varietals are planted on 20 acres of vineyard space. They produce grapes each year, beginning in spring with budbreak. This is when the first buds of the season emerge from the vine after winter.Wine Grapes

The next spring activity is usually flowering. This is when the vine develops tight bunches of flowers. These flower clusters will eventually grow into grapes. We are extremely excited to see flowers bursting forth throughout the vineyard during this time.


The flowers eventually turn into tiny green spheres. This is fruit set. We work tirelessly to make sure these little spheres grow into juicy grapes using canopy management and other farming techniques.

By late summer the grapes have gained fullness and color. This is called veraison and is the time of year when you can tell which grapes are green and which are purple.


Wine Grapes

Harvest is in fall. This exciting time is when we are out in the vineyard every single day, deciding when the grapes are at the perfect ripeness for plucking. Once this is decided, we pick every bunch by hand.

After harvest, we crush the grapes and begin the winemaking process.


In many farms, winter is the quietest time of year. However, since we create our Willamette Valley wines onsite, we are working hard during winter to make sure fermentation is going correctly and the wine is developing beautifully. Additionally, we must prune the vines to get them ready for budbreak next year.Wine Grapes

Every season is exciting in Oregon wine country. We hold our breath for budbreak, rejoice in seeing our grapes gain fullness and color, and keep a watchful eye out for harvest time. Not only are these times exciting, they are incredibly beautiful. If you haven’t visited us here at Youngberg Hill, pick anytime of year and come. You won’t be disappointed.


Five Seasonal Foods Paired with Summery Wines

August 4th, 2015 by Rachel

Summery WinesWith summertime in full swing, our mouths water as we think about pairing seasonal foods with a variety of summery wines. We know that most people think of beer when they consider barbecues or other summertime cookouts, but we argue that wine adds more depth and flavor to grilled foods. Here are some of our favorite food and wine pairings:


Food: Hamburgers, the American classic. Any grill master who is worth their title knows how to barbecue a great burger. Add a little cheddar cheese, some mayo, lettuce, tomato, and onion and you have an American classic.

Wine: You can actually pair both red and white with this American classic. On the white side, a buttery Chardonnay or bubbly Champagne may be the perfect pairing.  When it comes to red, we love a straightforward Cabernet Sauvignon, a peppery Zinfandel, or an earthy Pinot Noir like the Jordan.


Food: Grilled zucchini. We think fresh summer veggies brushed with olive oil and seasoned with a little bit of salt and pepper and then cooked directly on the grill taste amazing.

Wine: Lemon-bright wines like our Aspen Pinot Gris and 2014 Pinot Blanc bring out the smoky, grilled flavor. Smoky reds like Spanish Tempranillo will intensify your culinary experience. Other delicious options include Riesling and Chianti.Summery Wines


Food: Barbecue chicken or shrimp. When it comes to barbecue sauce, traditional “red with red meat, white with white meat” logic flies out the window. You need to pair your wine with the sauce. So, what do you love? Sweet, smoky, or spicy? That will be what determines your wine.

Wine: Let’s break down the wine pairings here:

Sweet: An excellent pairing would be a white or blush wine like white Zinfandel or Rosé

Smoky: Pairs well with a strong red like Malbec or Merlot. Another great option is the 2011 Natasha Pinot Noir.

Spicy: Sip on something citrus-forward like Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc.


Food: A big, juicy steak. If there’s one thing we love it’s a fantastic, local steak grilled up and served with new potatoes or some other delicious vegetable.

Wine: We all know that red wine pairs with red meat, but how do you determine the right red for the job? Here at Youngberg Hill, we have created full-bodied red wines that go perfectly with that fat steak you want to chow down on this weekend. For example, our 2011 and 2012 Jordan Pinot Noirs are a fantastic pairing with red meat. Other pairing options include a classic Bordeaux, Cabernet, or Merlot.


Food: Veggie burger. Sometimes you have to go vegan or vegetarian, but that doesn’t mean you don’t get to drink wine! Two of the best veggie burgers we have seen either have a strong mushroom element or quite a lot of quinoa, so those are the flavors for which we will recommend pairings.

Wine: Pinot Noir generally pairs excellently with mushroom flavors. This is because here in Oregon, we are known for both mushrooms and Pinot Noir, so the flavor profiles go hand in hand. Another great pairing for mushroom-forward veggie burgers is Mourvèdre.

Quinoa has a completely different taste and requires lighter white wines like Sauvignon blanc or Viognier.


We would love to hear what your favorite summer food and wine combination is! Share it with us in the comments below.


What Wine Terms Really Mean

May 12th, 2015 by Rachel

Willamette Valley Wine TermsWinemaking is a highly specialized field. Because of this, there are a number of wine terms which can get pretty confusing because they often have both specialized meanings as well as non-specialized definitions. Many of these wine terms have roots in other languages, which can make them seem more confusing.

We want to help you articulate and understand what it is about wine that makes it something you love. We’ve created a list of terms that many people find confusing. Knowing these terms will help you discover even more wine that you love.

Acid: This chemical is produced during the fermentation process. Grapes from cooler regions or chilly seasons have higher acidity levels while grapes from warmer climates have lower acidity. In white wine, acidity can taste like lemon or lime juice. Acid adds tartness and zest to wine.

Body: This is a very commonly used term when one is trying to identify a type of wine. The term “body” is used to describe the weight or feel of the wine in your mouth. Often what determines body is the amount of alcohol in the wine. The higher the alcohol, the more body the wine has.

Earthy: When we say something is “earthy,” we often mean that it is evocative of the pleasant smell of rich, fresh, clean soil. It can also indicate that the wine has woody or truffle scents. In French, this term is called goût de terroir.

Finish: The term “finish” is used to describe the quality of a wine. Finish indicates the taste the wine leaves in one’s mouth after drinking. When it has a long, rich taste that lingers after your wine has been swallowed, it is said to have a “long finish.”Willamette Valley Wine Term

Mineral, Minerality: This is a wine tasting term that indicates the smell of wet stones or crushed rocks. It can also mean that a wine has a taste indicative of the land in which the grapes were grown. This means it can have different tastes – anything from chalk to slate. Often wines with minerality are complex and nuanced.

Oaky: We use oak barrels to age our wine. The type of oak barrel and the length of time the wine resides in the barrel affect the taste. Usually oak adds flavors of butter, vanilla or coconut to white wines. In red wine it often adds the taste of baking spices, toasty vanilla or sometimes dill. A wine can become overly oaked and the taste can overwhelm the wine making it taste charred or burnt, or like lumber or plywood.

Residual Sugar: This is the sugar that remains in the wine after fermentation. This may or may not be done on purpose. Sugar can be left in to help change the taste of your wine, making it less astringent or creating a sweeter wine. However, sometimes residual sugar can cause a less than pleasant taste, making a wine too sweet.

Tannin: The mouth-puckering substance that comes from grape skins, seeds, stems, or even oak barrels. Tannins help your wine age and develop. Younger wines have a stronger taste of tannin than wines that have been aged. This is often solved by decanting a bottle or aerating.

Terroir: A French term that indicates the entire physical and environmental characteristics of a particular vineyard. These characteristics influence the grapes and the wine that is made from them. We respect our terroir here at Youngberg Hill.

There are an enormous amount of terms associated with winemaking and wine tasting. These are just a few of them. You can always come to our Willamette Valley winery and ask us what we mean when we describe our wines. Associating specialized words with an actual taste will help you deepen your knowledge of wine and help you find even more wines that you love.


The Perfect Wine for Cinco De Mayo

April 28th, 2015 by Rachel

The Perfect Wine for Cinco De MayoCinco De Mayo is right around the corner!  What better way to celebrate this day of delicious food than with the perfect wine? Here are suggested pairings for five of our favorite Mexican meals.

Tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole – This is a classic starter at any Mexican table. The spice of the salsa paired with creamy guac and salty chips make this a perfect pairing for Pinot Gris, Riesling, or Sauvignon Blanc. Pinot Gris works the best if the salsa is a chunky Pico de Gallo.

Beef barbacoa tacos with lime and cilantro – Barbacoa spiced beef tacos have a very strong flavor all on its own. This pairs well with full-bodied reds like Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon,  and Tempranillo.

Enchilada suizas – This cheesy, rich Mexican dish used to be incredibly popular, but is hard to find on menus these days. There is a lot of red sauce, heavy cream, and cheese involved in this dish, so it can be a little tricky to pair wine with it. The best wines for this dish are fruit-forward whites like Pinot Gris, unoaked Chardonnay, or Riesling. If you don’t want to drink white, you can also try a young Beaujolais with this dish.

Cheesy nachos with black beans and salsa – You don’t need creativity to make cheesy and delicious nachos and cheese into a meal. This can be a tough one to pair wine with though because of the spice of the salsa, starch of the beans, creaminess of cheese, and – let’s face it – greasiness of the deep-fried chips. We love sparkling wine for this scrumptious Mexican meal. Other options are Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Barbera, or Zinfandel.

Steak fajitas – Who doesn’t love fajitas? There are so many flavors to enjoy, from the zing of lemon and lime to the spice of onions and peppers to the creaminess of sour cream. This flavor-forward Tex-Mex favorite requires a juicy, high-alcohol wine like Primitivo.

Some Additional Cinco De Mayo Pairing Advice

Mexican food varies greatly when it comes to spice. If you are more likely to eat milder foods, the go-to wines for most Mexican food are Pinot Noir or Zinfandel. If you want to kick the spice up a notch, try a sweet wine like Riesling or Rosé.

No matter what wine you drink or food you enjoy on May 5th, we hope you have a happy Cinco De Mayo!

How to Make the Perfect Wine Pairing

March 17th, 2015 by Rachel

Wine PairingThere are probably a million “perfect pairing” charts and articles discussing the ins and outs of wine pairing on the internet. We also post articles once in a while discussing what wines would pair well with certain foods. With the ultimate wine pairing event – a winemaker dinner – coming up, we thought we’d take a look at how to pair wine with food once again.

Yum and Yuck

Before you even start pairing wines with food, you have to think about the “yum” and “yuck” factor. That is, if you don’t like the wine or the food, no amount of pairing will make it delicious. So, pick both wine and food that you enjoy.

Rules, who needs them?

There are exceptions to every rule. For example, you don’t always have to pair red wine with red meat. Pinot Noir goes great with rich fishes and roasted veggies, as well as some white meats.

Compare and contrast

Think about the similar flavors in food. Would you pair this food with a zingy lemon sauce? Then a wine with lemon notes would likely treat it well. Is this food better with butter? A rich, buttery white might do the trick. Are there earth notes in the food? An earthy red may be just what you need.

Go local

If you are eating local foods, it’s likely a local wine will pair well. We often drink local wines with our meals because we are eating food from Willamette Valley farms. Another tactic is to look at where the food you are eating is from and go for a wine in a similar region. If you are eating a traditional Bordeaux-style meal like confit de canard, you can go with a Willamette Valley Pinot as we have a similar region to Bordeaux.

Acid, fat, salt, and sweet

When stripped down to the barest essentials, food and wine are all about flavors. An acidic wine will pair well with fatty and sweet food. Wine with high tannin levels will go well with sweet food while wine with a high alcohol content will cut through fatty food. Salty foods should get a low acid wine while sweet foods will want a little acidity.

In the end, wine pairing takes some practice. However, always go for foods and wines that you love. Be adventurous and tell us where your culinary adventures take you!

What will you Learn at the Winemaker Dinner?

March 3rd, 2015 by Rachel

Youngberg Hill Willamette ValleyWe have a series of winemaker dinners planned here at our Willamette Valley vineyard and elsewhere in the Willamette Valley this year. At the moment, we have dinners scheduled for: March 20th, April 17th, May 2nd, and May 30th. Stay tuned to our calendar for any changes in dates or additional winemaker dinners and local events.

We love hosting winemaker dinners for many reasons. There is great conversation, wonderful people, delicious food, and fantastic wine. We also get to share our passion and insight when it comes to winemaking. Our guests love our dinners too, and here’s why:

Learning about wine

We are able to talk to our guests about the wine we create as well as the land and the region in which it is made. In our case, we both grow and create wine at our location in the Willamette Valley. This is a small enough event that we can discuss ins and outs as well as answer any and all questions without having to “work the room.”

If you have specific questions about wine, winemaking, or our region of the world, this is the time and place to ask them.

Tasting uncommon wine

You won’t find our Port anywhere in the “our wines” section of our website, but we are serving it at our March 20th winemaker dinner. You also get a chance to see what we as winemakers drink. It’s not all Pinot, all the time. We’re having a wonderful Champagne at the March 20th event too.

Understanding the “whys” behind pairingWillamette Valley Vineyard Winemaker Dinner

Sometimes a pairing can sound odd, but taste amazing. Here’s your chance to know why we chose a specific wine to pair with a specific recipe – or vice versa.

Eat, drink, and be merry

More than anything, winemaker dinners are there for us to make new friends, have wonderful discussions, eat amazing food, and sip on some glorious wine. We love the family and group aspect of these dinners, we love answering questions, but more than anything, we enjoy connecting with old friends and making new ones.

What question would you ask a winemaker? Comment below and we’ll answer!

How Wine Bottling Works

January 27th, 2015 by Rachel

Wine bottling at Youngberg HillPatience is the keyword in making wine. One has to let it sit in barrels and go through the fermentation process until it is clarified enough for bottling. Even when the wine has clarified to a point where wine bottling is the next step, the process cannot occur for a few days. One must first rack the wine, let it settle for a again, and then go into the bottling process.

Youngberg Hill is a relatively small winery. This means that our winemaking process is tightly controlled and monitored. The precise moment the wine is ready for bottling can be pinpointed and bottling can start very rapidly.

The concept of bottling seems pretty simple. You are putting the wine into a bottle for further aging or for sale. Because wine reacts chemically with air, this process is a little more complicated than filling a bottle with water or some other liquid. We try to allow very little air into the bottle while it is being filled. However, a minute amount of air is needed so that the bottle can handle temperature changes and so that the wine aging process can continue to occur.

After wine bottles are filled, they should be corked or capped promptly. When wine bottles are freshly filled they need to remain standing for a few days to allow any inside pressures to equalize. After a few days though, wine bottles should be stored on their sides in a cool cellar.

Wine doesn’t stop aging once it is out of the barrel. Some wines benefit from bottle aging. Others are drinkable right away. You can often find recommendations about drinkability in the tasting notes of a particular wine. You can find out tasting notes here.

Do you want to find out more about the winemaking process? Contact us or visit us!