Archive for the ‘Youngberg Hill’ Category

Winning Wines

December 29th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

robert parkerOpinions on wine ratings can range as wide as the ratings on the bottles of wine themselves.  The most interesting thing to me is that all the attention tends to be paid to those wines that rate a 90 or above, which are considered by the rater to be outstanding or better.  Are we all drinking outstanding or better wines every night at dinner?  Are those the only bottles of wine we are purchasing at our favorite wine retailer?  Probably not.  What about the 80 to 90 point wines, considered to be very good to great wines? In most cases, those are the wines we drink on a regular basis.

Also interesting is the point to price relationship.  A producer may have a wine priced at $50 dollars receive a rating of 87, and another wine priced at $30 rated 90. How could that be? The producer certainly would argue that the higher priced wine is the higher valued (better) wine. What went wrong?

I would suggest remembering two factors when deciding to purchase wine based on ratings. First is the condition under which a wine is rated. Typically a wine is rated in a group of several wines at the same time, so a singular wine cannot help but be rated relative to the other wines being tasted.  Second, the rater is biased by what he likes and does not like.

When using ratings to make a purchase, use the critic’s description of the wine rather than the number to decide whether that is a wine you would like.  Second, use the ratings of someone whom you have found to have a similar taste to yours. If you have not identified that particular wine critic, that is when the fun begins!


The Power Of Wine

December 15th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

The Oregon Wine Industry continues to grow, with more wineries cropping up each year, and existing wineries expanding their production.  The state of Oregon is third in the country in number of wineries and vineyard acreage.  While Pinot Noir makes up almost 75% of wine production in Oregon, Pinot Noir consumption in the US is currently only 5% of total wine consumption.  But market research indicates that Pinot Noir is the fastest growing wine category, and Oregon Pinot Noir is just being discovered in most of the country and the world.

I believe this is all good news for the Oregon wine industry.  And with our industry contributing almost $3 billion to the state’s economy,  we are having a significant impact on Oregon’s economic picture as a whole.  When you consider associative industries like tourism and hospitality that have benefitted from the wine industry’s strength, that impact increases significantly.

In the years to come, the percentage of wine-related tourism will continue to grow as will the awareness and growth of the industry itself. This growth will show itself in restaurants, lodging, car rental, airlines, attractions, retail shops, and so on.

Here’s to the wine industry in Oregon!



Is The Wine Ready?

December 8th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

Now it’s time to get the wine in the barrel.  Since harvest in mid- October, we have been nurturing the wine in the winery. From the time the fruit is brought in until it is put into barrel is the most vulnerable time as there are many chemical reactions taking place as the wine is transforming, and the chance of a negative chemical reaction is high. So it is very important for a winemaker to be watching over the wine to prevent this from happening.

Once the sugar has been completely used up by the yeast and converted to alcohol, the wine is settled to continue interaction with the must (skins, seeds, and dead yeast).  The secondary fermentation of the harsher malo acid converting to a fuller, softer lactic acid also begins.  The wine continues to be tasted every day to gauge the evolution of the wine as it sits with the skins.

When we feel the wine has had enough contact with the skins, we first pour off all the “free run” wine. Because the wine settles to the bottom of the tank and the must rises to the top, we can open a valve at the bottom of the tank and let gravity freely drain much of the wine off the skins. Then we press the wet must to get remaining juice from the skins. We do this gradually, tasting the juice at intervals, so that we can stop pressing once we sense characteristics showing in the juice that are not to our liking.

We will keep the “free run” wine in separate barrels from the “pressed” wine until we are ready to bottle, and determine at that time how much of the pressed we want to blend back in to the main wine.

Wine is Life

December 2nd, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

Wine has been a part of our society for thousands of years.  There is evidence of wine production and consumption in the Sumerian culture some 3000 to 4500 BC.  Writers, poets, historians and the like have integrated the subject of wine into their writings, just as we today see wine as a symbol of togetherness, celebration and relaxation.  As a grower and producer of wine, I like to compare the milestones in my life to the process of growing grapes, making wine, letting it age and so forth. Let’s take a trip through life.

The nine months the grapes are developing on the vines is similar to the nine months that a baby is in the womb. The fetus is nurtured through the mother just as wine grapes are nurtured through the vine.

At harvest the grapes are transformed into wine in the winery, just as a fetus becomes a baby. In both cases, they are now independent and yet dependent on the care of the winemaker/parents.

From birth to adulthood, parents are nurturing the child, keeping it safe, and helping it develop. The winemaker is doing the same for the wine through the winemaking process and on into barrel.  In both cases, the best possible outcome will be to allow the child/wine to develop without any preconceived notion as to what it should be.

Otherwise it may not reach its full potential.  As wine ages in the barrel (and a child becomes a young adult) it begins to mature and develop the characteristics that will define it for years to come.

Once in the bottle, the wine begins the slow aging process that, if developed well, will continue to get better, just as a young adult gains knowledge and wisdom through life’s experiences and grows into a mature adult.  Wine continues to develop in the bottle, at some point reaching its prime.  After that, the wine will continue to be good for a very long time, which with any luck is just what we do, too!



Oregon Sustainability

September 15th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

We Oregonians take pride in our efforts (and results) in protecting and preserving the environment. We believe there are alternative ways to doing things that will have less negative impact on the delicate balance of nature. The wine industry, because of our dependence on that balance of nature, is a leader in taking action and creating awareness around this important issue.

Most of us in the wine industry who farm organically, sustainably, and biodynamically do so because we believe it is necessary to protect the environment, improve the health of the land and the vineyards, and to sustain the balance of nature. Many of us also believe that it improves the health and the quality of the fruit we harvest, allowing us to make better wine.

We do not practice these methods as a marketing ploy.  In fact, market research suggests that the general wine consumer does not reward wineries by buying those wines farmed and produced sustainably over others.  We take this path because it is the right thing to do.

Then why is important to identify our farming practices with certification logos on our labels and in our marketing? Because we feel it is important to continue to raise the awareness level of our environmental impact, and ways in which we can reduce it.  That is why we have not only organic certification, but also salmon safe certification, low impact viticultural certification, Oregon Sustainable certification, and so on.

We are proud of the small role we play in preserving our planet!




August 17th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

Oregon’s 2012 fruit set is now complete in and we have our first idea of what our crop might be like when it comes time to harvest. The size and shape of the newly formed clusters suggests more even ripening and cleaner fruit than last season. A looser cluster, which we’re currently seeing, allows air to flow through, keeping the fruit cleaner.

What else is going on in the vineyard? Removing leaves on the east side of the fruit zone. Shoot positioning. Raising catch wires. Hedging. Making a second pass with the in-row cultivator. And mowing.

The vines are now slowing down vegetal growth and focusing more of their energy on the fruit itself. The next month will see the growth of little green BB’s, which will bloom into full-sized grapes prior to ripening.

Mother Nature is right on schedule!



Alien Daze

May 16th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

It was June of 1950 when the historic sighting of a UFO took place just outside of McMinnville, Oregon. Paul and Evelyn Trent took pictures of what appeared to be a flying saucer above their home in Dayton.  While it did not receive the national attention nor retention that other sightings in the ’50s had, from an historical and military perspective, it was as important as any other.

There are many to this day that recount this event, and many others that love to celebrate the possibilities from the outer realm, and within our own imaginations.  These folks come together every year for the UFO Festival sponsored by McMenamins Hotel Oregon Now in its 13th season, it’s not only an event designed for fun, it’s also meant to intrigue and educate those with a curiosity for our alien counterparts.  Or it may just be an excuse to have a good time, drink some wine or beer, and speculate.  But the stories of encounters remain alive either way, and isn’t that the best part?

What peaks my interest is that there is a TV series on the History Channel 2 titled Ancient Aliens that provides hypotheses and proof that there were alien encounters thousands of years ago that have been instrumental in shaping who we are today.  And if there have been alien encounters throughout mankind’s history, then local tales of encounters, like the Trents’ experience in Dayton, do not seem so out of the realm of possibility.

 Do you believe?

As Our Garden Grows

May 12th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

On Youngberg Hill, we are continuing the journey of healthy farming and living in a sustainable environment. As our daughters get older and our Inn occupancy increasing we find ourselves going through more and more fruits and vegetables every day.  Given that, we decided to plant about a half-acre organic garden this year.  Not only would we get great produce from it, it would be good for the girls to work in the garden this summer.

So we began planting this month. The girls have been very helpful and taken ownership for the results it brings. We started in the house with seedlings of tomatoes, basil, chives, and cloves in cardboard rolls and eggshells.  We have since planted the tomatoes in the garden. We will plant seeds of tomatoes in the garden as well as grow plants that will provide fruit later. We planted starts of strawberries and asparagus in patches that will come back every year, although the asparagus won’t produce for a couple more years.

We planted sweet corn in another plot with room to plant more in a couple of weeks. We planted all the usual vegetables – carrots, radishes, lettuce, spinach, pak choi, leeks, cucumbers, pumpkins (for Halloween), beans, peppers, and potatoes.

We have been planting in accordance with the Farmer’s Almanac’s guidance regarding timing on planting. This is in concert with our biodynamic farming of the grapevines and our holistic practices on the property. By timing our planting of potatoes at the full moon, they will produce much better and that will be in concert with the rest of nature on the farm. Part of the biodynamic philosophy is that all of nature be in balance and syncronized. That applies to all plant, insect, and animal life on the farm.

As our garden begins to flourish, the girls are excited to see the changes each week, and to soon taste, literally, the fruits of their labor!

Call It Kismet

April 21st, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

I love to tell this story, because I love happy endings.

Shortly after Wayne and Nicolette arrived in the Willamette Valley some items were taken out of their mailbox.  Nicolette had a lively Greek exchange of expectations with the postmaster of McMinnville.  Just a few weeks later Nicolette and Wayne were out on a “date night” when they were sharing stories and a few glasses of wine with some yet-to-be-introduced new acquaintances.

Finally names were exchanged, and Nicolette realized she was sitting across from her adversary, the postmaster himself, otherwise known as Jess Davis.  The emotion of the earlier exchange resurfaced as a bond of friendship that might have otherwise not been as strong, and a new road to be travelled unrolled before me.  Winemaking holds an appeal for me that I didn’t know was there.

After cooking a couple of winemaker’s dinners and private parties at Youngberg Hill (I am a trained chef), I began assisting Wayne in the vineyard and at the winery – sorting grapes, and barreling and bottling the wines.  I spent my evenings and vacation time assisting in the winemaking for a few years, before Wayne convinced me it was time to change careers and become part of the family on the Hill.  So after 32 years of faithful federal service, I sold my acreage, and began the life of a farmer/vintner/barkeeper/winemaker/chef/inn manager.  On a farm, the day starts when your feet hit the ground, and stops when you do.  But a day on a John Deere beats a day at the office anytime.

I love spending my time bringing smiles to people tasting our wines, or helping them unlock the mysteries that wine presents.  I love welcoming guests into the inn, and I love being a farmer.  And when it is time to call it a day, I watch the sunset through a glass of my favorite Pinot Noir and cherish every sip of life.

Jess Davis

A Community of Friends

March 24th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

Each year, we hire students from Linfield College to help out at Youngberg Hill. For the last two years, Melissa Davaz and Scott Heron have worked our events, worked in the vineyard, and done a lot of handy work around the Inn. We have been fortunate to have wonderful, reliable, and resourceful young adults from Linfield work for us over the years, and Scott and Melissa are no exception. They continued to work for us after graduation, and although Scott now has a full time job, Melissa still comes out to give us much-needed support.

Melissa and Scott have performed in concerts at the vineyard, and Melissa gives our daughters piano lessons.  They have both become members of our family.  Like many grads, they continue to come back to the Hill just to spend time here and see how things are going. We look forward to Melissa and other Linfield alumni working for us this summer.

Youngberg Hill is proud to be Partners in Progress with Linfield College – donating wine for functions, and supporting many other activities on campus that we love and feel are a benefit to everyone involved.  The college holds an annual benefit concert every summer to support the Linfield Orchestra, and we wouldn’t miss it.  Having a school like Linfield in our back yard is an asset to the entire community.

There are many others who make valuable contributions within the McMinnville area – CASA, YCAP, Henderson House, Virginia Garcia Medical Center, Rotary Club and Travel Yamhill Valley, to name a few.  We are grateful for the work these fine groups perform, and are honored to support them.  We feel it is important to the growth of the entire community that these organizations are able to thrive, because they give so much back every day.