Enjoying February Wine in the Willamette Valley

January 20th, 2016 by Nicolette Bailey

Couple drinking wine in Oregon at Youngberg Hill.Have you thought about enjoying Willamette Valley wine country during February? True it rains much of the time, but what better excuse than the weather to snuggle up next to a warm fire with your loved one and enjoy a delicious Pinot Noir? There is a lot happening in the Willamette Valley during the month of February with many Valentine’s events at different wineries with chocolate and wine pairings, new releases, and winemaker’s dinners.   Don’t forget about the local restaurants, which will be having spectacular dinner specials.

Wine tasting in the Willamette Valley

It is fun to taste throughout the Willamette Valley this time of year because of the unique and serendipitous experiences one might have. To start, it is typically not as busy in the tasting rooms so you can have a more intimate tasting experience, learn more about the wines and why they taste the way they do. This gives you the opportunity to meet the winemaker or owner hanging around who are willing to share their experiences with you and maybe even break out a library wine or take you to the barrel room. Many of us wineries are family operations and you may have the opportunity to meet other members of the family developing a more intimate relationship with the family, the winery, and the entire operation.

There are plenty of wineries open for tasting throughout the winter months which means that there is no lack of both old favorites and new experiences to enjoy. Visit Youngberg Hill’s tasting room and relax next to the fire while tasting the newly released 2013 vintages, or join us on February 12th for our annual Valentine’s dinner with outstanding chocolate charged menu items paired with some of our favorite Youngberg Hill wines.

And there nothing that puts a little heat back in the relationship than a couple of nights at our cozy intimate inn overlooking the vineyard. Snuggle up in front of your private fireplace and enjoy a glass, or a bottle, of your favorite Youngberg Hill Pinot Noir with the person you adore.

cta_wine

2015 Vintage in the Willamette Valley

January 9th, 2016 by Nicolette Bailey

Harvest 2013 1042015 vintage in the Willamette Valley was a banner year for growing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and other grape varietals, especially at Youngberg Hill.

I’m sure you have heard a lot about the on the west coast 2015 drought and its impact on agriculture. In the Willamette Valley, we are blessed with plenty of rain during the off season that sustains us through the dry growing months.  In fact, we don’t want any rain during the growing season. Because of this, we didn’t suffer from lack of water even though Youngberg Hill is a dry farm. What was a challenge this last year was the heat.  It required us to be more diligent in our management of the canopy and protecting the fruit from the sun. In addition, we took more time and care cutting off dried and sunburnt fruit from the vine before harvest. And in a wonderful turn of events, September turned ouIMG_8304[1]t to be cooler than normal which slowed down ripening and gave us fruit that is very well balanced. All of these factors combined should make 2015 the best vintage ever for Youngberg Hill!

In December, we bottled the Pinot Noir’s from the 2014 vintage, and are excited to share them with the world upon their release in September of 2016. While 2014 vintage was also a warmer year, the fruit aged beautifully in the barrel and is showing just as good as the renown 2012 vintage. In the meantime, the newly released 2013 vintage is tasting great right out of the bottle.

join our wine clubLooking forward, 2016 looks to be another great year as the age of the vines and health of the vineyard continues to improve. Youngberg Hill’s organic and biodynamic farming practices are really paying off both in the health of the vines and also in the quality of the fruit.

We wish everyone a great 2016! Cheers!

Truffles and Mushrooms in the Willamette Valley

December 21st, 2015 by Nicolette Bailey

Oregon-Truffle-FestivalWhile the Willamette Valley is known for Pinot Noir, it’s also a great area for mushrooms. While there are a variety of seasonal mushrooms available throughout the year, Oregon truffles and mushrooms in the Willamette Valley are the seasonal favorite. Both native black and white truffles are hunted here every winter.  Mushrooms are so good here that they are the driving force behind The Joel Palmer House restaurant in Dayton, Oregon, which was founded by the son of a legendary Pennsylvania restaurateur who was passionate about mushrooms.

Oregon is also blessed with an abundance of wild truffles with culinary qualities equal to those of Europe, and as with French grapes, Oregon has the perfect climate for cultivation of the renowned French truffles. As the ultimate culinary delicacies, truffles are emblematic of the good life in every region where they grow, and in Oregon they are complemented by our wealth of other wild and cultivated gourmet foods, outstanding Oregon wines, and an increasing number of extraordinarily talented and award winning chefs.

The Oregon Truffle Festival is dedicated to the celebration of these delicious fungi.  It will be celebrating its tenth year of activities across the Willamette Valley beginning in January 2016 with activities from the 16th through the 31st. These activities will include growing your own, dog training and hunting competition, Pinot Noir pairings, dinners and luncheons, and also a market for you to pick up some truffles to take home with you. For more information, go to http://www.oregontrufflefestival.com/.

And while in The Valley, don’t forget to take advantage of all the other culinary and wine activities available throughout the winter. Cheers!

Wine Taste in the Willamette Valley Year-Round

December 7th, 2015 by Nicolette Bailey

Go-Wine-Tasting-Wine-Country-ThanksgivingAre you looking for an adventure after Thanksgiving?  Did you know that you can wine taste in the Willamette Valley year-round?  Although many wineries close their tasting room or shorten their hours after Thanksgiving, there are still more than 100 wineries that continue to remain open all year long. With weather that lends itself well to wine drinking, and smaller crowds, now is a great time to enjoy Willamette Valley wineries.  Don’t just come for the wine tasting; there are many other activities for you to enjoy.

Let’s start with drinks. If you want a break from drinking wine, try one of the many microbreweries in the valley like Heater Allen, Golden Valley, Grain Station, Chehalem Valley, Deception, and Fire Mountain. Most of these are open all year long with delicious seasonal brews available for limited times of the year.  If you’re in the mood for a cocktail, then you have to go to Thistle.  Other great places to enjoy a cocktail is at Nick’s, The Barberry, Pura Vida, and La Rambla.

Take advantage of the amazing restaurants!  Fine dining in the area includes Bistro Maison, Nick’s, Tha7b82faaa1d49b0795d454f11fc64c5ce Painted Lady, Joel Palmer House, Tina’s, Recipe, The Barberry, Thistle, La Rambla and many more. If you’d like a less formal dining experience, there is always Golden Valley, Valley Commissary, Grain Station, The Blue Goat, and Pura Vida.

Besides libations and food, there are many more things to discover in this area.  Want to go shopping? McMinnville’s main street captures the feeling of the main streets of old with a variety of local stores, shops, tasting rooms and music. Carlton is home to many tasting rooms that include producers from other Oregon wine growing regions. McMinnville is also home to Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, one of the top ten airplane museums in the world.

With all of these things for you to enjoy, it’s hard to believe your only an hour south of Portland, less than an hour from the coast, and two hours from the snowy slopes of Mt. Hood.  So if you thought that wine touring in the Willamette Valley was only a summer time activity, think again. Don’t let our light rain deter you, come for the wine and food, and take advantage of all Oregon has to offer year-round.

November Wine Touring in the Willamette Valley

November 16th, 2015 by Nicolette Bailey

Is thGregor Halenda Travel Oregon Jessis a good time to go wine touring in Oregon?  November wine touring in the Willamette Valley is a great time to taste Pinot Noirs. There are over 300 tasting rooms throughout the valley, and most all of them are open through the Thanksgiving weekend. Additionally, most of us in the valley are releasing new wines, having pick-up parties, wine club events, and winemaker dinners throughout the months of November and December. It is a great time to be out in wine country, celebrating the bountiful harvest.

With the holidays approaching, it is a great time to stock up on your party wines and dinner wines for the festive season. Many wineries offer wine specials during this time of year.

When you’re traveling through Oregon’s Wine Country, the restaurants in the area offer great dining experiences. Which dining experience is best for you? Ask around and be prepared to have a lot of options. To make your wine tasting tours easier there are several touring businesses to drive you from tasting room to tasting room. Most also offer dinner service, which is a ride to and from dinner.Fall vineard

It used to be that the “season” for tasting in Willamette Valley wine country was from Memorial Weekend until Thanksgiving. Today the “season” is all year long as many wineries are open for tasting, restaurants are open for lunch and dinner, and warm and cozy B&Bs are open to with nice fireplaces to cuddle up and enjoy that bottle of Oregon Pinot. Even after the holidays, there are plenty of places to go, wines to taste, and places to stay and eat. In January, the Oregon Truffle Festival takes place. In February, there are many Valentine events. And as March rolls around, white wines for spring and summer begin to be released.

There is never a “closed” time in the Willamette Valley.

Bottling 2014 Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley

November 2nd, 2015 by Nicolette Bailey

IMG_1059When do we bottle Pinot Noir in Willamette Valley? It’s about this time of year when Oregon Wineries move the previous year’s harvest from barrels to bottles. This is a great time to revisit last year’s harvest, and explore this wine after it’s spent some time in the barrel. 2014 was a rare year for Oregon Pinot Noir. Across the board, Willamette Valley vineyards harvested not only a large quantity of fruit, but more importantly the harvested fruit was of a high quality. All too often one is sacrificed for the benefit of the other, but not in 2014. That year began with an early spring that continued into warmer than normal weather throughout the growing season. This combination brought in a harvest two to three weeks earlier than normal, a time of year that saw very little precipitation. Often times, late in the growing season, vineyards are at the mercy of the weather, hoping for enough dry days to pick ripe fruit. As a combined result, the 2014 wines in barrel are showing ripe, voluptuous body and weight.

Bottling Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley typically takes place right before harvest in late August and September. The machines used to bottle wine are large, and require specially trained operators. Because of this, a lot of smaller wineries hire a mobile botting unit. When it is time for bottling the mobile unit is pulled to the winery.DSCN1218

Once bottled, the wine is left to age in bottle for at least another 6 months before release. However, Youngberg Hill typically release our Pinot Noirs 2 years after the fruit was harvested, so don’t expect to see these wines before November of 2016. At Youngberg Hill, our Pinot Noirs are bigger and bolder than most of the other wines produced in the valley. Because of this, we give them more time in the barrel. We normally keep our Pinot Noir in barrel for at least 12 months or more. With the 2014 vintage being special, we will hold the wine in our French White Oak barrels for 14 months. This additional time in the barrel will impart more of the oak flavor, complementing the bigger fruit flavor of the 2014 harvest. We believe this will ultimately create a superb and well balanced Pinot Noir.

 

blog action photo tasting room sing

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

Making Pinot Noir in The Willamette Valley

October 6th, 2015 by Nicolette Bailey

DSC_6902Many of us who make Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley either learned our wine-making trade in Burgundy or aspire to make wines in a manner similar to Burgundy. What does that mean? It means using a light touch in the winery to let the wine reflect where the fruit was grown and what weather the fruit was grown in. This philosophy creates wines that will be very different across the valley and vary significantly from year to year.

How is this done? We do this by doing as little as possible in the winery to change the natural characteristics coming from the fruit. An example of that is “crush”. While we all envision Lucy stomping on the grapes in that classic TV episode and in some regions with some varietals, we take great care in not “crushing the grapes before going into fermentation. Because Pinot Noir is a feminine grape with thin skins, it is important not to bruise the fruit, which will change the characteristics of the wine. We also take care not to make any adjustments to the wine like adding acid if it is a low acid year, adding sugar if it is a low sugar year, or adding water if it is a high sugar year. We use the saying “It is what it is”.

I often use the analogy of raising children to wine-making. If you try to make a rocket scientist out of a child with innate skills as a concert pianist, he probably wouldn’t be as good a rocket scientist as he would be a concert pianist. In the same way, if one tries to manipulate the wine to taste a certain way, it is most likely not going to be as good a wine as if it is left to reflect the fruit it is made from.

Finally, the wine will go into barrel, typically French white oak for our Pinot Noirs) for anywhere from 14 to 24 months depending on the vintage and the fruit. After barreling, we will bottle and hold for several months before releasing typically  two years from the time it was harvested.

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

Why Choose a B&B When Visiting the Willamette Valley?

September 15th, 2015 by Rachel

Visiting the Willamette ValleyYoungberg Hill isn’t just a working winery and vineyard, it is a B&B as well. We know there are many places to stay throughout the Willamette Valley, but recommend staying at a Bed and Breakfast for many reasons. Here are a few thoughts on why you should choose a B&B when visiting Oregon wine country:

1-Personalized service. Hotels often can’t give you the one-on-one attention a Bed and Breakfast can provide. We love getting to know our guests and helping them have a wonderful trip. Additionally, our guests may have the opportunity to participate in one of our winemaker dinners – like the upcoming harvest dinner on October 17th!

2-Unique location. Bed and Breakfasts are placed in interesting and unique locations. For example, Youngberg Hill overlooks our active vineyard in the middle of Oregon Wine Country. You can see the Coast Range, Mount Jefferson, Mount Hood and the Willamette Valley from here.

3-Local knowledge. Because of the one-on-one relationship the innkeeper is able to have with her guests, our B&B can provide personalized and local information that a hotel wouldn’t have the time to give. For example, we know all of the best Willamette Valley restaurants and can notify you about upcoming festivals and other local events.

4-Delicious breakfast. Breakfast is always an event here at Youngberg Hill! We have a fabulous chef that will get your day started out right with a fantastic breakfast.

5-Wonderful rooms. We are constantly working to improve our accommodations. Currently we have four suites and four luxurious guest rooms along with a library, salon, and large dining room.  

We think B&Bs have a certain air of romance and give you wonderful service. Be sure to check out our Bed and Breakfast when planning your next visit to the Willamette Valley!blog action photo Inn