Greet Summer with Willamette Valley Farm to Table

May 26th, 2015 by Rachel

Willamette Valley Farm to TableIt’s almost summer!  Farmer’s Market is back up here in the Willamette Valley.  Local fruit, meats, and vegetables are available all around Oregon Wine Country and we are excited!  In celebration of this farm to table extravaganza, we wanted to give you some pairing ideas with local foods that are in-season so that you can make the most of your meals.

Southern-style collard greens: Who doesn’t love a combination of bacon or ham hocks and collard greens? This delicious side pairs well with an earthy wine like Pinot Noir or Beaujolais.

Morel mushrooms with anything: Morels can be eaten with just about anything. They are delicious with chicken, pasta, in a wine sauce, or deep fried. Pinot Noir is the classic pairing with mushrooms, so we recommend a 2011 Jordan Pinot Noir pairing with morels.

Fava bean salad: We love a fresh bean salad with champagne vinaigrette. We recommend a bright, fruity white wine pairing with this salad. Try a Prié blanc or Pinot Blanc with this summery salad.

Baked asparagus: We are so happy that asparagus season has struck again! Simple asparagus baked in olive oil and lightly salted is a delicious snack or side. This treat needs a bright white wine like Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Verdicchio, or a light, dry rosé .

Brioche and goat cheese: What is better than warm, fresh-baked bread and a spreading of goat cheese? The classic pairing with this cheese is a high acid and fruity Sauvignon Blanc. Other nice pairings include Sancerre, Riesling, and Pinot Gris.

These are just a few of the delicious pairings available with local food here in the Willamette Valley.  What’s on your table this week?

Ten Training Tips for Next Year’s Wine Country Run

May 19th, 2015 by Rachel

Wine Country RunWe just had our first annual Willamette Valley Wine Country Run on May 17 this year! It was a half marathon, 10K and 5K and it was an absolute pleasure to host. As this is an annual run, we wanted to provide you with some training tips for next year.

Ten Wine Country Run Training Tips

1. Give yourself time to ramp up and train. We all live busy lives and it can be hard to train for a run. Try scheduling at least three runs per week and dedicate each run to a specific skill. For example, your first run can be at an easy pace, the second at a higher tempo, and the third can focus on sustaining the run for a longer time. This will let you get in your training without it completely overwhelming your schedule.

2. Buy perfect shoes and socks. Running longer distances can do a number on your feet. Be sure to get them the right shoes and wear socks that don’t slowly come off your foot as you run (we’ve all been there). It’s better to wear something that looks casual but is comfortable than to get some stylin’ gear that you can’t stand to train in.

3. Get excited about running! Sometimes running can seem like way too much work. Perhaps you’re just having a terrible day. Maybe all you want to do is sit back with a glass of wine. Instead of downing the bottle, try getting in your run first. Grab your favorite running tunes, think about that bottle of wine (or another post-run reward) and get those feet moving!

4. Find out what works for you. When you start training, you will probably get a ton of advice from other runners. This advice may be fantastic – or it may not be the right advice for you. Try out things that you think will work and ignore everything that either won’t work or sounds too overwhelming to do. Don’t worry, you don’t have to juice every day or run twenty miles each morning to get in shape for our wine country run next year!

5. Don’t overtrain. This is another reason to start training early. You can get into the perfect running shape by taking on the challenge slowly and steadily. In the end, you’ll win the race!

6. Pace yourself as you run. Even a 5k run requires a lot of endurance, so add this into your training and pace yourself. There’s no need for you to sprint the entire distance.

7. Warm up. Don’t start your run cold. It is uncomfortable and can make the going pretty rough. Give yourself a few minutes of walk time or jog time before heading into your run.

8. Don’t only run. Do some low impact exercise like yoga, swimming or Pilates on off days.Wine Country Run

9. Remember to rest. Rest days are important. Be sure to take off rest days and actually rest. Grab a bottle of wine and a good book. Go out with friends. Meditate. Rest.

10. Stay calm. A wine country run is a pretty calm activity. You have nothing to worry about at these runs except having tons of fun. So, stay calm and train on!

We look forward to seeing you at the run next year!

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.


Get Technology on your Side While Looking for the Right Wedding Location

May 5th, 2015 by Rachel

Willamette Valley Destination WeddingDestination wedding locations can be difficult to pick. You aren’t at the location, so you can’t just run by and take a peek at it. Here are some tips for finding the perfect location, with as little stress as possible:

Think about Style

You have probably created a Pinterest board of your favorite wedding styles and looked through all of the best wedding websites for ideas. As much as many brides would love to have multiple weddings so they can incorporate all of the great ideas available online, it’s time to narrow down the styles that you love the most. If you love wine barrels, grape vines, a natural setting, and a stately Inn, our Willamette Valley winery may just have the style you’re looking for.

Get Technology on your Side

There are a ton of tools you can use to help you decide if the spot is just right for you.  Here are just a few options:

  • Google Maps. Use Street View to take a look at the location from different angles.
  • Virtual Tours and videos. Many websites (including our site) offer virtual tours and videos so that guests can get a feel for the location.
  • Photo gallery. We post photos on our photo gallery as well as on our Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and Instagram accounts all the time.
  • Skype or FaceTime. Your wedding planner or a friend who is visiting the location can put you on Skype or FaceTime and let you see the location for yourself.

Make an Early Visit

Take a long weekend and head out to the location.  Seeing it for yourself, in person, will help you visualize everything and understand how your wedding will look. Additionally, you will be able to meet all of the wonderful people who are working with you and have a little bit of leisure time to talk with them. Trust us, when it’s almost your wedding day, you won’t have the spare time to sit back and have a glass of wine with your wedding planner or the winemaker.

Remember to Have Fun!Willamette Valley Destination Wedding

Your wedding is a celebration of the love you and your partner have for one another. As you plan and make big decisions about your gala gathering, don’t lose sight of this. Make sure to include your partner and make sure he or she loves the destination venue as much as you do.

Marriage is a wonderful adventure. We hope we can help you and your partner get started on this amazing journey!

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!

Celebrating Earth Day with Sustainable Wine

April 21st, 2015 by Rachel

Sustainable Wine Practices for Earth DayWe take Earth Day seriously here at our sustainable Willamette Valley vineyard and winery. In fact, we celebrate Earth Day each and every day. Our goal at Youngberg Hill is not just to produce fine, delicious wine. We work hard to improve the health of our farm, including the soil, local plant life, insect life, and animal life.

After eleven years of organic farming, we can confidently say that our grapes are a true reflection of the the land. Additionally, we have practiced biodynamic farming since 2011, which means we work with nature to water and fertilize our crops.

Our current farming practices include planting beneficial cover crops which helps reduce the soil erosion that so often plagues farmland. These crops also allow nature to do quite a bit of work for us. Additional plants lower the acreage of bare soil, so fewer weeds can grow. Some plants also help keep the soil fertilized and attract beneficial insects like bees while discouraging destructive pests.

Pesticides are a huge problem in traditional farming, killing off destructive and beneficial insects alike. To end this problem, we utilize controlled spraying of soft pesticides like biodegradable oils,Biodynamic Farming soaps, and plant extracts. Additionally, we are participating in research that works to improve our methods so they are even more safe and environmentally friendly.

In the end, we want to become 100% biodynamic in our vineyard. In 2005, we earned sustainable certification for LIVE and Salmon Safe. In 2010 we were certified as “Sustainable” by the Oregon Wine Board. In the near future, we hope to improve the world around us and become certified as “Biodynamic”.

Sustainable farming practices are a big step toward making the earth a better, more beautiful place. So, this Earth Day, look into the practices of your favorite manufacturers. Are they sustainable, organic or biodynamic? What are they doing to help the environment recover from the pollutants humans have spilled into it over the years? Raise a glass to those who have responsible practices and write to any who aren’t. Who knows, you may just change the face of the earth.

Cheers and Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day

5 Tips for Destination Wedding Planning in Wine Country

April 14th, 2015 by Rachel

Willamette Valley BrideLet’s face it, destination weddings can be tough to plan. You aren’t at the location nor are you  interviewing people and discussing options in person. However, these barriers can be overcome. You can plan a really wonderful and gorgeous wedding out here in the Willamette Valley.

Tip #1

Come visit before you have paid out anything that is non-refundable. If you have never been to Oregon wine country or the Willamette Valley, it would be smart to pay us a visit before you give any wedding venue anything non-refundable. This will allow you to understand a few things:

  • How far the destination is from your hotel and the hotel in which your guests are staying.
  • What you will need when it comes to decoration and theme.
  • Which vendors might be your best options when it comes to cake, food, flowers, and more.
  • The logistics for transporting anything you are bringing from home.

Additionally, coming out for a visit will allow you and your significant other to feel assured in your choice of destination location.Destination Wedding Planning

Tip #2

Expand your view on hiring help. Because you are traveling to your wedding location, you have additional options when it comes to hiring professionals to help you. There are local options, which your destination location will likely recommend. There are also professionals like wedding planners and photographers who may be able to travel with you or travel to your location for you. It may even be a fun idea to hire a professional photographer to document not just your wedding, but your journey to the wedding location.

Tip #3

Coordinate with your wedding location. Long-distance wedding planning requires about the same amount of coordination in advance as a local wedding. However, this coordination is usually less hands-on than a wedding closer to home. To solve this problem, you can often get your destination wedding venue and long-distance vendors to complete the smaller tasks that make up a wedding.

For example, you should discuss setting up the wedding venue, your final guest numbers, seating plans, and placement of table cards with your wedding location. Additionally, get your florist, baker, photographer, caterer, DJ, and other vendors on the same page by giving them all the location and your planner’s information.

Tip #4Wine Country Wedding Ideas

Research local wedding law. That sounds daunting, but it really isn’t. All you need to know is what it will take for you to get a marriage license in the state in which you are being wed. You can likely find out with a quick Google search.

Tip #5

Plan in advance so your wedding is stress free. Get all the heavy lifting planned out beforehand. That way, on your big day, all you and your partner have to do is meet at the top of the aisle and say “I Do.”

Planning a destination wedding? Share your tips and experiences with us!

Why Should You Join a Wine Club?

April 7th, 2015 by Rachel

We love Willamette Valley Pinot Noir here at Youngberg HillThis Saturday is our wine pick up party for wine club members visiting us here in the Willamette Valley. Members who wish to pick up their wine can swing by anytime between 10 AM and 4 PM on April 11th to receive their spring shipment… and the traditional fresh batch of baklava.

The wine club here at Youngberg Hill is a close knit group. We think there are many reasons for this. Here are just a few:

1. Because we are both a vineyard and winery, we can offer more when it comes to wine club membership. For example, our standard club membership provides wine as well as savings on additional wine purchased.

However, membership also provides access to private events, library wines, limited releases and exclusive bottlings. Pinot Club membership not only gives the member additional bottles of wine, but provides them with complimentary attendance for two at a select winemaker dinner as well as a vineyard/winery tour for four.

2. We both grow and create the wine right here at Youngberg Hill – and we have a large number of events and dinners every year. This means our members get exclusive access to activities whenever they are visiting the Willamette Valley.

3. Exclusivity allows our members to meet each other and become friends with all of us here at Youngberg Hill. So, our wine club members not only receive the wine they love all year round, they have access to the winemakers, special events, and limited-batch wine. All of this creates a close-knit group of wine lovers.Willamette Valley's Youngberg Hill wine club

This is what we feel a wine club should be. There are larger, more corporate-type wine clubs out there. These provide members with wine every few months along with a newsletter or discounts. This hands-off approach may work for some, but for those who care about the terroir and want to delve into the winemaking process, the corporate approach leaves them out in the cold.

We take the personal approach to all activities here at Youngberg Hill. From growing the grapes to hosting winemaker dinners. From music on the deck in summertime to the annual grapevine wreath making party in the winter. Each activity allows us to deepen our connection with our community, the land around us, and the wine we create.

What is your opinion of wine clubs? We would love to hear from you!

Twelve Photos Every Bride Must Consider for Their Wine Country Wedding

March 24th, 2015 by Rachel

Wine Country Wedding PhotosHere in the Willamette Valley we have some of the most beautiful wine country in America. This means that any couple planning a wedding or elopement here in wine country needs to make sure they get extra special shots that encapsulate both where they are and the love they have for one another. As any soon-to-be-married couple may guess, it’s important to discuss such special shots with their photographer. That’s why we have provided twelve shots to consider for your wine country wedding.

The Long Shot: Make sure to capture a sweeping shot that includes the newlyweds and the beautiful scenery that surrounds you.

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Candid Shots: We know, we know, you’re not just hanging out with your significant other, but the appearance of a candid shot has a wonderful charm that should be captured.

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The Dress: There is something incredibly beautiful about a dress juxtaposed with the natural greenery of a vineyard.

Wine country wedding

The Bride: The lovely lady is the jewel of the event. Make sure you capture her with the gorgeous wine country landscape.

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The Ladies and the Gents: Your support group – meaning your bridesmaids and groomsmen – should be captured amongst the surrounding greenery.

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The Loving Shot: Your wedding or elopement is a celebration of your love and commitment to each other. Make sure to get some gorgeous shots that show this.

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The Out of Focus Shot: For so many wedding photos, the couple is in full focus. It can be fun to give the surrounding scenery a little air time too.

Wine country wedding

Something in Black and White: There is something classic and beautiful about black and white photography. Make sure you get a wedding or elopement shot in black and white as well as in color.

Wine country wedding

Candid Shots of Other Members of the Wedding Party: Your flower girl, mother in-law, and other members of the wedding party will have wonderful moments that you will want captured. Be sure to set your photographer loose among the wedding party to get these moments.

Wine country wedding

The Rings: A winery is the perfect place to get a wonderful shot of the rings along with a cork, bottle, or vine.

Wine country wedding

Night Shots: Your event may just go into the night. Be sure to capture your love against the stars.

Wine country wedding

A Fun Shot: Be sure to have a great time during the shoot! Your wedding or elopement is an amazing celebration of your love. Make sure to get some fun moments in there too!

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These are just some ideas that the brides and grooms who we have had the honor to host here at Youngberg Hill have had. Which shots will be the most important in your wedding? Let us know!

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!