Archive for the ‘Youngberg Hill’ Category

Wine Travel

May 11th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

wine travel1smNot all wine enthusiasts have the opportunity to travel to Oregon’s wine country to explore the wonderful valley where grapes are grown and wine is made.  Therefore, it’s important for us as winemakers to travel to markets across the country to share our life’s work with others.  We have had the opportunity over the last couple of weeks to do just that.  You might ask: “why travel to the midwest this time of year?”  The answer is simple – right now is the slow period in the vineyard.  In April the vines will begin the new growing season and there will be work to do.  Most of us are farmers first, and without close attention to the vineyard, we are not able to produce the quality of Pinot Noir that is expected from the Willamette Valley.

So we found ourselves in Minnesota, Iowa, and Chicago during one of those late winter snow storms that reminds us that spring is still a ways off.  But fortunately the storm passed quickly and travel carried on.  We are very excited about the increased awareness of Oregon Pinot Noir in Minneapolis.  It seems to align with Minneapolis’ recognition as the “foodiest city” in the country and its new-found love of holistic culinary eateries.

Chicago continues to be one of the best restaurant cities in the country, and where there is good food, there is good wine.  Chicagoans are beginning to discover the great versatility of Pinot Noir with food pairing and that Oregon’s more elegant and higher acidic pinots are a perfect match for the foods they love.

 

We had great success in both markets, with new retail placements and glass pours at many of the top restaurants.  We look forward to returning next year, to rekindle friendships and cultivate new ones, over a glass of Oregon Pinot Noir.

Winemaking is a Celebration

April 27th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

060Wine drinkers often drink wine as a celebration.  I like to think of it as a holistic celebration of life.  First comes the growing of the grapes.  This process requires us to work in concert with nature (and we choose to do this organically and holistically) for approximately nine months, to produce the best possible fruit.  During that process, there are dozens of workers using their eyes, hands, minds, and feet to work the vines and nurture the soil.  We must dance with the weather and sing to the sun.  And thus we celebrate the harvest of the fruit we have toiled to grow all summer long.

In the winery, it is a concert of activity mostly performed by the fruit itself; fermenting, fermenting again, and then growing and aging in barrel.  And there are many of us performing different activities to ensure a safe environment for the grapes to do what they do best.  So it is a cadence and movement that are performed in the winery to evolve the wine into something new.  At the time of bottling, we again celebrate the completion of another stage in the evolution of the wine.

With the wine in bottle, there is a dance and song that many individuals perform as the wine is marketed, transported, and sold throughout the world to the end consumer.  Everything that goes into grape growing and winemaking and wine selling, I do not view as many individual businesses just doing their jobs.  We are all working in concert, in the celebration of life, as family.

 

Wine & Civilization

April 23rd, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

Wine  civilizationWho would have ever thought there would be wine grapes grown, and wine made, in every state in the country today?  Having grown up in the midwest, it’s inconceivable to me that grapes are being grown in North Dakota, Montana, or Iowa.  But they are.  Did you know that prior to prohibition, Oregon farmers were growing grapes and making wine?  Missouri was the largest grape-growing state at the time, and New York was the largest producer of wine.  And at the same time Spanish priests were planting grapes in California, Thomas Jefferson was planting them in Virginia.

It is amazing that everywhere people live, and in fact, wherever civilization has existed, grapes have been grown and wine has been made. There is proof that wine was produced by ancient civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece as early as 4000 BC.

So I suggest that growing grapes and making wine is not just a lifestyle, it is part of the human condition.  It is natural and even inherent to grow, produce, and consume a product that is founded on farming and fermentation.

So explore the contrasts of wine from different regions across our great country.  While we may have many different beliefs, priorities and climates; we seem to all enjoy the growing of grapes and the making of wine.   Maybe this is what is meant by “purple mountain majesties”!

 

 

Message in a Bottle

April 13th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

message in a bottleGenerally wine lovers cherish fond memories of the occasion for which they opened a particular bottle of wine.  Whether a gathering of close friends, an enchanting gala, or a quiet evening by the fire, we can think back to what made that time meaningful.

For me as a winemaker, I am transported back to the year that wine was created.  Immediately after uncorking a wine, the deep aromas and first sip remind me of what was happening with our family and farm the year the grapes were grown and the wine was barreled.  Any weather anomalies we may have had that year, any especially wet or dry months, late freezes or perfect Indian summers rise to the surface.  What else happened during that summer?  Maybe a calf was born, one of our girls took their first bike ride or acted in a local theater play, we got a new loader, we lost a tote of grapes at harvest, or the birds invaded with more gusto than usual.

A singular open bottle evokes memories of the winemaking itself during that season – the evolution of the wine, whether the fermentation went fast or slow, how it tasted going into barrel, the magic of one particular barrel in the cellar, and of course the release of the vintage.  Every sip of that wine is a celebration of the life that transpired that year – both the good times and the challenges.

 

A Wine Country Spa Day

April 6th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

spa blogI had the pleasure of being treated to a spa day at the Allison.  I was not disappointed.  It was a luxurious spa experience that provided relaxation and rejuvenation that I really needed.   It combines a day experience that is calming, relaxing and blissfully indulgent. They have a vast array of rejuvenating therapies.  I recommend doing it with a friend and planning extra time to relax onsite before and after.  Its an easy drive from Youngberg Hill and many of our guests go for a spa experience.  Now I can talk with them about the whole adventure.  This is a great treat for a few hours or even a half day when in Oregon’s Wine Country.   I am now stress free for the moment and isn’t that every woman’s wish?

 

Holly, my friend

March 23rd, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

hollysmI want to tell you of a life that I adore.  I refer to Holly as the Sister you never knew you needed until she showed up.  I remember adopting Holly from the rescue shelter and from day one she was a new spirit, fun loving, crazy, childlike and kind.  She was the first to greet you with a ‘hello’.  She would take plants by the roots and pull them out of the ground then happily present it to you.  Holly’s proudest achievements were bringing you sticks, rocks, branches, bushes, and critters so you too could rejoice in her accomplishments (good or not so good).  Holly was the first to walk with you into the vineyard and stay by your side.  She kept watch over our daughters as they played around the hill and never left their side.  After seven wonderful years Holly’s leg was amputated due to a tumor.  Unfortunately, that was not enough to save her life. Now we are experiencing the painful lesson of life and loss.  Holly is now pain free and running in our hearts and minds.  Thank you, Holly, for sharing your childlike joy with us.  You will be remembered.

 

To Each His Own

March 9th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

wine is like musicWe often hear from guests in our tasting room that they don’t know how to explain what they are tasting, and therefore can’t say why they like or don’t like a wine.  I sometimes use the analogy that wine is like music – you and I may like (or dislike)the same song, but for different reasons.  The same applies to wine.  Different experiences and tastes may bring us to the same conclusion, or to two very different conclusions about a particular vintage.  It’s not always necessary to articulate why, but it IS important to realize what your particular tastes are.  That’s the joy (and benefit) of wine tasting!

 

 

I am an Oregonian!

February 23rd, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

I am an OregonianHow does one become an Oregonian?  Those of us who’ve moved here from a different state to live understand what I’m asking.  We moved here 10 years ago from Chicago and sometimes I still feel like I am not considered to be an Oregonian by some.  Oregonians are proud, easy going people, and very friendly, but like many people everywhere, some Oregonians have a hard time accepting change.  I’m still told regularly that I’m not an Oregonian.  I walk too fast and talk too fast and drive too fast.  Many things that used to drive me crazy I now accept as part of the culture, like never pumping my own gas.  I use to be  frustrated that I am not allowed to do this basic task when I have been doing it for almost 20 years.  Now I think of having a gas station attendant pump my gas as a little gift so I don’t have to get out of the car on a rainy winter day.

I’ve discovered there isn’t a magic formula for becoming an Oregonian.   I do know that you feel like one before you are one.  You can’t change Oregon, but it changes you. These days I am slowing down.  I am starting to understand small town living, look forward to talking to people on 3rd Street, and I have found that as I’ve made friends and gotten to know my neighbors, I’m not too concerned anymore about not being considered an Oregonian.  I just absolutely love living here and I can’t think of any place I would rather be than this wonderful place called Oregon.

Hey, I am an Oregonian!

~Nicolette

 

Wine & Chocolate

February 16th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

pinsperationWine and chocolate are often paired together, particularly during this romantic time of year.  Why?  Just ask Natalie MacLean, author of Red, White and Drunk All Over:  “Wine is liquid sensuality: Its heady bouquet stimulates the appetite and its velvet caress soothes that desire. What other drink is described as both ‘voluptuous’ and ‘muscular’? And when you pair wine with the mouth-coating luxury of chocolate, the combination is impossible to resist.”

And scientifically speaking, they’re made for each other.  The acid in wine and the fat in chocolate are natural characteristics that balance the other on the palate.  The more fat in the chocolate, the more acid needed to offset it.

Also, chocolate is considered to have an “earth” characteristics, as opposed to a “fruit” characteristics.  So if you eat chocolate with a more earthy wine, you will find that they pair quite nicely.  You might often see chocolate, or cocoa, used as a descriptor for wine flavors.  Chances are that particular wine will be a pleasing complement to chocolate.  Now for the coup de grape, there are chocolatiers that make truffles infused with wine.  We have wine truffle chocolates in our Inn guest rooms to enjoy.  Heaven!

 

Pruning 101

February 9th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

pruningIts pruning time in Oregon and all the vineyards are hard at work.  Pruning is the most important function we do for the health of the plants and the production of wine grapes.  We are not pruning solely to obtain the highest yield or get rid of the old growth, although these factors are important.  Primarily we are pruning to provide the best flow of nutrients, water, and energy from the vine through to the shoots, the leaves, and ultimately, the fruit.

So what is pruning?  For most of us who are growing Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley, it is cutting off almost all the vegetative growth from the previous growing season.  At the end of each season, all that’s left is the stock, two fruiting canes – growing from and perpendicular to the stock, and about 14-16 shoots coming off the fruiting canes.  The beautiful canopy of leafy shade is gone, and all that remains is the skeleton of the plant.

On each plant, we will cut off both last year’s fruiting canes with all the shoots leaving only two new fruiting canes that were new shoots grown last year. The selection of which shoots to leave as the next year’s fruiting cane is critical. We choose these shoots based on how the energy and balance flow in the vine.  This may be an easy selection on one vine and a very difficult one on the next.  It is important for the health of the vine and its production to select the shoots that are going to do the best job of transferring nutrients and energy throughout the plant. This takes a trained eye and an understanding of the physiology of the vines.

Ultimately, we strive to help keep the plant in balance as it prepares to burst forth once again.  If your visiting an Oregon winery in the next few weeks ask them to show you.  We would love it!