Archive for the ‘Youngberg Hill Pinot Gris’ Category

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.

Cheers!

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!

The Post-Harvest Vineyard

November 25th, 2014 by Rachel

Post-Harvest VineyardHarvest is an extremely busy and exciting time in every vineyard. This is when we collect the fruits of our year-long labor. The keyword there is that our labor happens all year long. In order to set up next year’s harvest for success, we must prune the vines in the dead of winter.

Pruning takes place during the dormant months of the vines; December, January, and February when the vines will not bleed excessively when the cane is cut off. Pruning vines is similar to pruning roses, cutting off the past year’s growth in order for the vine to grow new shoots to develop an appropriate canopy and fruit.

There is more to pruning wine grape vines then simply cutting off old growth. We are also “training” the vine in the shape of a “Y.” This will provide balance, maximum energy flow, and strength to the vine.

The pruning process is done by selecting two of last year’s shoots to be the current year’s fruiting cane. These two shoots make up the top part of the “Y”; the stock is the bottom. The right shoots must be kept to provide the optimal energy flow through the vine and into the fruit. The fruiting cane is that from which the new shoots grow that develop the fruit.

Not only are we pruning for the current year’s crop, we are also pruning to leave spurs for the next year as well. In doing so, we are continuing to train the shape of the vine as it grows from year to year.

Pruning is the way we get a jump on next year’s harvest. What do you do each year to get your next year started out right?  Let us know in the comments 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.

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.

 

Why Attend a Winemaker Dinner?

May 13th, 2014 by Rachel

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One of our favorite events here at Youngberg Hill is our winemaker dinners.  Why attend a winemaker dinner? This is where we invite guests up to our vineyard for food and wines paired in perfect harmony.  But the amazing food and wine is not the main reason we love this event.  Our greatest joy is sharing stories and knowledge with our guests.

Larger or corporate wineries may claim that a “winemaker dinner” is a simple pairing while someone speaks to you about their wines.  This is not the dinner party we throw.  Ours is a close-knit affair.  Wayne and/or Nicolette are right there, eating with you, answering questions about wine, their wine-making philosophy, sharing stories, and having discussions.

The conversation and exchange of stories and ideas is the real point of a winemaker dinner.  With new friendships forming and old friendships re-forging, it’s no wonder that food can become a secondary aspect of such a dinner.  That said, we could write lengthy articles dedicated to the food alone.  Here’s just one example – the menu from our Spring winemaker dinner:

We began with a glass of Champagne and olive and onion tarts as the hors d’oeuvres. After meeting everyone who came, we moved on to the first course: grilled shrimp and creamy polenta paired with our 2013 Pinot Gris. The next course was a spring salad with strawberries and cheese paired with the 2011 Cuvee.  After that, the herbed rack of lamb with a Pinot demi-glace, asparagus, and black potatoes paired with the 2011 Jordan filled everyone up.  With so many courses, we were able to take time to enjoy the food and our guests could ask questions and share stories.  Good conversation always follows great wine, and this dinner was no exception.  The meal was topped off with bread pudding with Pendleton sauce and Pinot Port.

With intimate dinners like this one, we are able to make new friends and impart a deeper understanding of wine to our guests.  Youngberg Hill is a family owned and operated winery and we hope to make guests feel like family.  Come dine, drink, and laugh with us at our next winemaker dinner on June 7th.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Why is May so Ah-May-Zing?

May 6th, 2014 by Rachel

May is a special month to many people.  Ancient Romans went wild for it.  Mexican Independence Day is May 5th.  It’s the last official month of Spring.  May is considered a time when flowers are fully in bloom, the bikes come out of the garage, and the snow has fully melted in most of the coldest states (sorry Alaska).  But, there are several very exciting reasons we at Youngberg Hill love this month.

May is Oregon Wine Month

We in Oregon are serious about our local wines, and we feel that everyone should discover or re-discover our fantastic wines.  You can come visit us all month long for a quick tasting or for the full, Youngberg Hill experience at our Inn and winery.  Either way, enjoy the wine, watch the spring flowers blooming up and down our hill, see the vines as they branch out for another great wine year, and cast your eyes upon the best views in the valley.

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Wine Flies Free      

As if you needed more incentive to come to Oregon for our wine month, Alaska Airlines is hosting another year of Oregon Wines Fly Free starting this month.  This means, when you visit participating wineries (and you better believe we’re participating) you can taste wines for free as long as you:

a) Are an Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan member and

b) Have an Alaska ticket from a participating airport that is in use for travel.  

PLUS, when you want to bring a case of our lovingly made wines home with you, you can check it for free as baggage.

The McMinnville AVA Passport Weekend

The first weekend of May is the McMinnville AVA Passport Weekend.  This is our town’s way of really kicking off Oregon Wine Month.  Visit all participating locations over the weekend and enjoy a tasting.  We’ll stamp your passport – and once all five stamps are collected, you will enjoy free tastings and receive 10% off purchases for the whole month of May.  Additionally, you will have a chance to enter for five premium bottles.

Mother’s Day

Our winery is family-owned and operated.  This means that Mother’s Day holds a special significance for us.  We know how hard you moms work, the struggles you must overcome, and the bountiful rewards of motherhood.  That’s why we are inviting you to come and take a load off for Mother’s Day.  If you’re a mom, come to our tasting room and enjoy a complimentary wine tasting.  Our glasses are raised to you!

Memorial Day Weekend

We are wrapping up the month with a three day weekend that will feature our new release!  The 2013 Aspen Pinot Gris will be in our tasting room for your enjoyment.  Not only that, our new deck will be open so you can sip wine and enjoy the best views in the valley.

So, as you can see, May is a big month for wine in Oregon.  We hope you can make it out and discover the fantastic wines available here in wine country.  Cheers!