Archive for the ‘Youngberg Hill’ Category

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!

 

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?

 

Biking and Hiking in Oregon Wine Country

June 20th, 2014 by Rachel

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Summertime is the perfect time for biking and hiking in Oregon wine country — especially right here in the Willamette Valley and surrounding areas.  Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and the vines are starting to produce.  This countryside is absolutely stunning in the summertime.

 

 

Hiking

There is hiking throughout McMinnville and the Willamette Valley.  You can head north to the Rotary Nature Preserve at Tice Park for a walk along Beaver Creek or travel over to Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey for exploring and hiking.  There are a ton of parks in McMinnville proper that you can take advantage of as well.  Just a couple of these are: Joe Dancer Park and Wortman Park.

The area surrounding our fair city also gives visitors plenty of opportunities for hiking.  There are trails around nearby Erratic Rock in Sheridan, not to mention all the hiking and biking which can be done at Champoeg State Park.

Not only are there native wetlands, rivers, glacial rocks, and more to be seen in several of these parks, bird watchers can scope out the skies for local birds.  We work hard to keep our vineyard in harmony with nature – and our communities work hard to maintain the natural beauty and balance of these parks and spaces.

Biking

Not only do we at Youngberg Hill offer a fantastic bike tour package which covers bike rentals, a two night stay, breakfast, wine tastings, and a picnic lunch; our local community offers a ton of additional trails for the avid cyclist.

Oregon is bike country.  We take pride in providing spaces for bikes to cycle in our roadways and bike paths through a variety of parks – like Champoeg.  Additionally, the state of Oregon has created a variety of scenic bikeways, all of which are within a day’s drive or less of our winery and inn.

Our area has at least 150 wineries within biking distance from Youngberg Hill alone.  This means you can take a day to conduct your own bike tasting itinerary – starting from the Hill and working out.

Red wine is heart healthy – and so are these activities.  We hope you have a chance to enjoy our beautiful valley in more ways than one!

 

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!

 

 

 

 

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!

 

Four Tips for Planning Your Destination Elopement

May 20th, 2014 by Rachel

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You and your partner have decided: you’re getting married.  There’s no need for a big wedding, it would be more fun to get hitched away from all that stress.  Even better, you’re getting married at a destination of your choice.  This opens up the option of honeymooning at your marriage location.

We understand your needs here at Youngberg Hill. That’s why we provide services for just such an occasion.  Even though you’re not having “the big wedding,” there is still planning involved in an elopement. Here are are four tips for planning your perfect destination elopement.

Tip 1: Location is important.

Whether you will be honeymooning at your marriage location or not, it’s important that you find the spot that you will remember forever.  Even though this is not a huge wedding with a reception, catering, and crowds, you and your significant other will remember these moments for the rest of your lives.  So, pick a place that you will love to remember – together.

That brings us to the next tip:

Tip 2: Be sure to get a great photographer.

Your marriage location may be able to recommend some great, local photographers, or perhaps you can find someone on your own for your special day.  Either way, remember that you are only sharing this day with your partner.  No one else will be around to snap candid moments or grab Uncle Bill’s camera for a few shots.  You will want a professional you can trust to capture the moments of your marriage so you can your partner can look back on this special day and smile together.

Tip 3: Don’t forget the marriage license!

Here in Yamhill county there are specific requirements for obtaining a marriage license.  One such requirement is a waiting period which may be waived for a fee.  There’s also an age requirement (18 years of age, 17 if a parent or guardian gives consent.)  It’s really simple to obtain a marriage license here, so be sure to get one before the elopement.

Tip 4: Do something special post-marriage.

There won’t be any big reception, cake cutting, or bouquet toss after your nuptials.  That doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate!  Whether you head out for dinner, share a bottle of wine, or have a giant party when you get home, be sure to do something fantastic to celebrate the amazing, life-long commitment you both just made.

An elopement is incredibly personal and special.  Here’s to yours being the perfect day to start the rest of your lives together!

 

 

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!

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.”