Posts Tagged ‘Oregon wine country’

10 Reasons Why the Willamette Valley Wine Industry is so Sustainable

July 13th, 2016 by Nicolette Bailey

PrintAs a Willamette Valley wine grape grower, we pride ourselves on being a very sustainable lot. Here are 10 reasons:

1. We are small family farms that we are protecting the land and vines for future generations.
2. Most of us are raising our children on and around the vineyards.
3. Many of us have been influenced by the sustainable farming practices in Burgundy.
4. We believe that sustainable farming practices make for a higher quality wine.
5. Many of us are organic farmers.
6. Some of us farm holistically (biodynamically).
7. Many of us dry farm (no irrigation).
8. Because we are small, we can manage the more challenging aspects of sustainable farming practices.
9. Healthy ground leads to healthy vines, which leads to healthy fruit that ultimately creates healthy wine.
10. The climate for the Willamette Valley is optimal for sustainable farming practices.

The Willamette Valley is blessed by great soils above 300 feet in elevation as a result of uplift from the ancient ocean floor. These hillside soils are perfect for growing wine grapes. In the Valley, we generally get about 40 inches of rain a year, mostly from November through May. During the growing season, we get little rain with a relative humidity around 30%. We also benefit greatly from our close proximity to the Pacific Ocean; providing air conditioning during the summer and warmth during the winter. These factors all combine to give us the conditions that enable us to be more sustainable.

Drink healthy, Drink Oregon wine!

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Top Three Wine Tours in the Willamette Valley

June 6th, 2016 by Nicolette Bailey

wine-tasting tourWhat are the top three ways to wine tour in Willamette Valley?  With the sheer number of fantastic Oregon wineries it is easy to become overwhelmed trying to decide where to visit, organizing and planning your route, and for safety reasons: who will be the designated driver. Fortunately, wine tours are a simple solution to what could be a complex adventure. Wine tours are a great way to see and experience The Oregon Wine Country easily without sacrificing time or energy on the logistics. All you need to do is sit back, relax, and focus on enjoying all that the Willamette Valley has to offer. The following are our favorite wine tour companies.

A vienyard Wine Tour

A Vineyard Wine Tour Led by Debra Kabarsky, A Vineyard Wine Tour designs a special tour just for you. Debra can create the perfect and most memorable day visiting up to four breathtaking, world class, Willamette Valley Wineries. With their Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van, A Vineyard Wine Tour will deliver you in style with first class door to door service and a fresh seasonal lunch. Enjoy the beauty and splendor of the Willamette Valley. Website: avineyardwinetour.com

Black Tie Tour

Black Tie Tours  Operated by Stefan Czarnicki, whose family moved to the valley in 1997 to drink wine, hunt mushrooms and open a restaurant (The Joel Palmer House – Dayton, OR). They’ve been showing off Oregon ever since. At Black Tie Tours, it’s Stefan’s passion to share the best that Oregon has to offer. Their vehicles are always clean. Their drivers are always courteous, knowledgeable and on-time. And they always strive to give the best experience that suits you. Oregon is the star – they are the lens. Take a peek!  Website: www.blacktietours.cominsider wine tour

 

Insider’s Wine Tours  Operated by John Swenson, Insider’s Wine Tours accommodates groups of all sizes for visits to small, boutique wineries and premier wineries, as well.  All tours utilize their executive cars for a private affair. Tours include, private winery visits with winemakers, complimentary dinner transportation, picnic lunches and water. Located in the heart of Oregon Wine Country, they have easy access to unique wineries!  Website: www.insiderswinetour.com

If you are curious about what vineyards to experience, visit Top 10 Vineyards in Oregon

 

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By: Molly Goldberg

Becoming a Flow Hive Beekeeper at Youngberg Hill

May 2nd, 2016 by Nicolette Bailey

IMG_0442Since vineyard grapevines are self-pollinating, you may question why we’ve recently begun beekeeping up here at Youngberg Hill.  Quite simply, bees play an essential role within our bio-dynamic farming practices.  Becoming a beekeeper initially seemed out of my comfort zone but as the time goes by I find myself learning and enjoying bees more and more.  Bees are one of the most studied creatures on the planet with a highly complex society, who are essential to the production of a majority of our fruits, nuts, and vegetables.  Without these pollinators our diet would consist primarily of grains and wine.

I first became intrigued in beekeeping years ago but didn’t have the time to devote to it.  More recently, I came across a Facebook post about the Flow Hive.  They made beekeeping look easier than the traditional method so I asked my girls if any of them would be interested in doing it with me.

I was met with pure enthusiasm from my youngest, Aspen who is nine. With an adventurous twinkle in both our eyes we began our bee journey as partners.  I quickly learned that just because the Flow Hive offered some time savings when harvesting the honey we still needed to learn a lot about how to take care of the bees.

Our first step to becoming beekeepers was to attend a beekeeping class put on by the Willamette Valley Beekeepers Association. They presented a basic level of information on how bees work together, communicate, propagate, and survive. I was both intrigued and a bit overwhelmed at the information we were learning.  One thing that did become evident is the need for bees in order to maintain a healthy environment.  In a way, I felt like beekeeping would be one way that Aspen and I could work together to help save the world.  To be honest, for me the altruistic part of this venture is second to the enjoyment I experience spending time with Aspen. As for Aspen, she plans on speaking and giving presentations about bees to guests at Youngberg Hill and at school.

What about Bee Stings?

In our 13 years no one has ever been stung by a honeybee at Youngberg Hill.  We have received a number of stings from the wasps that live in all area vineyards and farms.  Wasps, like honeybees are beneficial in pollinating plants, but they aren’t our friends. Wasps are natural enemies of honeybees, so to be successful beekeepers we now need to take wasp management to a higher level.  When honeybees sting you they die so they really do want to avoid it at all cost.  They really don’t want to sting you!

Wasps sting and continue to live. For the most part if you leave bees alone they won’t bother you. You can work around them in the garden without fear. All they want to do is collect nectar and pollen.

Honey Goals

Our goal is to have successful hives to produce both honey and honeycomb that we can use at the Inn and sell in our gift shop.  Aspen is the CEO of the project and along with learning about beekeeping, she will be learning how to manage a business including keeping records, buying supplies, marketing, managing the hives and of course sampling the product to make sure it is the highest quality.

We are excited about this new experience, and will be sure to update our progress and knowledge with you as we move forward with our bee journey.

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Aspen & Nicolette Bee Day!

5 ways to Celebrate Oregon Wine Month in the Willamette Valley

April 5th, 2016 by Nicolette Bailey

Oregon wine month 2016May is Oregon Wine Month in the Willamette Valley, and we couldn’t think of a better time to enjoy all that this area has to offer. The following are five ways to get out and explore the lesser visited parts of the Willamette Valley.

  1. 3rd Street in downtown McMinnville: This is a hub for a variety of activities. Wander the sidewalks exploring the many locally owned boutique shops lining the street, or enjoy one of the several top notch restaurants such as Bistro Maison, Nick’s, Thistle, and the Barberry. While also on 3rd Street, stop by the Elizabeth Chambers Cellar for a wine tasting.
  2. McMinnville AVA: This viticulture area is the place to enjoy exquisite wines that are distinguished for their depth, complexity, bold structure, and black fruit. Enjoy less crowded tasting rooms, unique views, beautiful structures, and friendly hospitality at these family owned wineries. You’ll be treated to all of these things at Youngberg Hill, Coeur de Terre, Yamhill Valley, Maysara, Coleman, and J Wrigley.
  3. Eola Hills AVA: Travel over to McMinnville’s neighboring wine growing area to taste the difference that a few miles can make. Spend a day visiting Brooks, Bethel Heights, and Cristom. Make a lunch stop in Amity at the Blue Goat for fresh, local fare before continuing your wine tasting adventures at Coelho Winery.
  4. Yamhill-Carlton: This town is where you’ll find many small wine producers making great quality wines that you wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere. Carlton is also home to several tasting rooms for wineries from other parts of Oregon pouring bigger red varietals.
  5. The Oregon Coast: Ok, this may not be technically part of the Willamette Valley, but it is only a short trip from the heart of the valley. Many people don’t know that McMinnville is only 45 to 50 minutes from the Pacific Ocean.  Not only are there great beaches and views in Pacific City, there are many great restaurants along Hwy 101 from Pacific City to Newport. Take a break from wine tasting and head to the beach, enjoy some fresh seafood, and Oregon wines.

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.

 

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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.

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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.

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Why You Should Take Advantage of Local Vineyard Events

September 8th, 2015 by Rachel

Vineyard EventsWe host events all year round here at the Youngberg Hill vineyard and winery. These events include winemaker dinners, music nights, a 5K and 10K run, concerts, and more. We love putting on events for our friends and hosting events for wonderful organizations like the Linfield College.

However, the love and time that our Willamette Valley vineyard puts into making each event wonderful is just one of the many reasons to take advantage of these events. Here are a few other reasons why you should mark your calendar and come to our vineyard events:

  • Unique location. We feature the best views in the valley here at Youngberg Hill, along with a sustainable vineyard, winery, and Inn. Our events give you an excuse to spend plenty of time in a beautiful, natural environment.

Vineyard Events

  • Exposure to local wine, music, food, and more. Many wine country activities pair up with other local businesses. For example, we not only have wonderful music at our Wine Wednesday performances, a local food cart comes out to feed attendees.
  • Fantastic people. Those attending local events are people with similar interests as your own. Many of the wonderful community members that come to our winery for fun events are wine lovers with storied pasts.
  • Exclusive opportunities. We recently were able to feature a wonderful chef all the way from Burgundy, France. This and other exclusive chances often only occur at smaller, local events.

We will be having our last 2015 Wine Wednesday performance on September 16th and our next winemaker dinner is on October 17th. There are also many local Willamette Valley harvest festivals and events coming up. Some of our favorites that are coming up are the Carlton Crush, Newberg Oktoberfest, Wine Country Thanksgiving, and the Oregon Truffle Festival.

Get all of the details on the calendar and keep an eye out for more wonderful events!

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