Posts Tagged ‘Youngberg Hill Pinot Noir’

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

Five Seasonal Foods Paired with Summery Wines

August 4th, 2015 by Rachel

Summery Wines

Summery WinesWith summertime in full swing, our mouths water as we think about pairing seasonal foods with a variety of summery wines. We know that most people think of beer when they consider barbecues or other summertime cookouts, but we argue that wine adds more depth and flavor to grilled foods. Here are some of our favorite food and wine pairings:


Food: Hamburgers, the American classic. Any grill master who is worth their title knows how to barbecue a great burger. Add a little cheddar cheese, some mayo, lettuce, tomato, and onion and you have an American classic.

Wine: You can actually pair both red and white with this American classic. On the white side, a buttery Chardonnay or bubbly Champagne may be the perfect pairing.  When it comes to red, we love a straightforward Cabernet Sauvignon, a peppery Zinfandel, or an earthy Pinot Noir like the Jordan.


Food: Grilled zucchini. We think fresh summer veggies brushed with olive oil and seasoned with a little bit of salt and pepper and then cooked directly on the grill taste amazing.

Wine: Lemon-bright wines like our Aspen Pinot Gris and 2014 Pinot Blanc bring out the smoky, grilled flavor. Smoky reds like Spanish Tempranillo will intensify your culinary experience. Other delicious options include Riesling and Chianti.Summery Wines


Food: Barbecue chicken or shrimp. When it comes to barbecue sauce, traditional “red with red meat, white with white meat” logic flies out the window. You need to pair your wine with the sauce. So, what do you love? Sweet, smoky, or spicy? That will be what determines your wine.

Wine: Let’s break down the wine pairings here:

Sweet: An excellent pairing would be a white or blush wine like white Zinfandel or Rosé

Smoky: Pairs well with a strong red like Malbec or Merlot. Another great option is the 2011 Natasha Pinot Noir.

Spicy: Sip on something citrus-forward like Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc.


Food: A big, juicy steak. If there’s one thing we love it’s a fantastic, local steak grilled up and served with new potatoes or some other delicious vegetable.

Wine: We all know that red wine pairs with red meat, but how do you determine the right red for the job? Here at Youngberg Hill, we have created full-bodied red wines that go perfectly with that fat steak you want to chow down on this weekend. For example, our 2011 and 2012 Jordan Pinot Noirs are a fantastic pairing with red meat. Other pairing options include a classic Bordeaux, Cabernet, or Merlot.


Food: Veggie burger. Sometimes you have to go vegan or vegetarian, but that doesn’t mean you don’t get to drink wine! Two of the best veggie burgers we have seen either have a strong mushroom element or quite a lot of quinoa, so those are the flavors for which we will recommend pairings.

Wine: Pinot Noir generally pairs excellently with mushroom flavors. This is because here in Oregon, we are known for both mushrooms and Pinot Noir, so the flavor profiles go hand in hand. Another great pairing for mushroom-forward veggie burgers is Mourvèdre.

Quinoa has a completely different taste and requires lighter white wines like Sauvignon blanc or Viognier.


We would love to hear what your favorite summer food and wine combination is! Share it with us in the comments below.

Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley: Then and Now

July 7th, 2015 by Rachel

Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley

Pinot Noir in the Willamette ValleyNot only are we at Youngberg Hill celebrating our 25th anniversary this year, the entire Willamette Valley is celebrating 50 years of Pinot Noir. In honor of both of these anniversaries, we wanted to talk about the development of Pinot Noir here in our beloved valley.

Brief History of Pinot in the Valley

Back in 1965, David Lett planted Pinot Noir here in the Willamette Valley. By 1970 there were just five bonded Oregon wineries. In the ’60s and early ’70s, winemakers were simply matching varietals with climate. They ordered the cool climate varieties and crossed their fingers – hoping the match would be perfect. Luckily, it was and Oregon Pinot Noir blossomed throughout the Willamette Valley.

By 1974, Oregon State University was able to help create clones of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay imported from Burgundy, France. The Burgundy weather and land is very similar to the Willamette Valley climate, and these clones thrived. Oregon wine was put on the map as a force to be reckoned with and in 1975, Portland restaurant L’Omelette created the very first wine list featuring Oregon wines.

Over time, more and more wineries sprouted up throughout Oregon. By 1980 there were 34 bonded Oregon wineries and in 1985 Oregon wine saw a huge triumph. Our local Pinot Noir outshined the French in the Burgundy Challenge at the International Wine Center in New York. By 1990 – when Youngberg Hill came to the Willamette Valley – there were 70 bonded Oregon wineries and by 1997 sustainable winegrowing became a hallmark of Oregon winegrowers. There are about 400 wineries in the Willamette Valley now, and that number is still climbing.

Here at Youngberg Hill Willamette Valley Winery

Over the years Oregon wineries have worked toward carbon neutral, sustainable farming practices. At Youngberg Hill, we work to embody these environmentally friendly strategies in both our farming and winemaking practices. We feel these processes don’t just help the environment, they allow our wine to express the terroir in taste and texture.

Not only have we made sustainable improvements in farming practices, we have added variety to our wine repertoire. At the moment we have three distinct blocks of Pinot Noir and one block of Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.

One thing that shows up strongly in Willamette Valley wines is the terroir (the taste and flavor imparted to a wine by the environment in which it was produced). We have 20 acres of vineyard and each block has a distinct taste based on varying soil types and microclimates just in those 20 acres. We feel this variety is what makes Oregon wine country produce such fine and distinguished wines.

There has never been a better time to visit Oregon wine country. We are excited to see what harvest this year has to bring us and are proud to present our 2014 wine selection. Be sure to visit us this year for our silver anniversary and look forward to our 2015 wines next year. We are thrilled to share them with you!

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.


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!

Willamette Valley Winemakers Celebrate 50 Years of Pinot

March 10th, 2015 by Rachel

Willamette Valley WinemakersBoth the Willamette Valley and Youngberg Hill are celebrating anniversaries this year. The entire valley is celebrating 50 years of Pinot Noir production and we are celebrating our 25th anniversary!

With these great events in mind, we wanted to take a look back to our beginnings, how our vision has developed over time, and what our plans are for the future. Winemaker and Youngberg Hill owner Nicolette Bailey sat down and answered these questions, explaining how Youngberg Hill, as a small family farm, fits into the overall Willamette Valley winemaking vision.

Interviewer: What was your original vision for the vineyard and winery when you and Wayne first started out?

Nicolette: “The idea was to emulate what we experienced in Burgundy. We are a small family farm, farm organically, use small lots, and have site specific bottlings.”

Interviewer: What in the valley inspired or affected your vision?

Nicolette: “The similarities (to Burgundy, France) in size, weather, and community.”

Interviewer: How has this vision evolved over time?

Nicolette: “The vision hasn’t so much evolved as confirming the similarities we love between Burgundy and the Willamette Valley, which encouraged us to continue pursuing our winemaking goals.”

Interviewer: Has living and growing here in the Willamette Valley had an affect on your vision?

Nicolette: “We are enjoying living a simpler life.”

Interviewer: What can we look forward to from Youngberg Hill in 2015 and beyond?

Nicolette: “More wine at an even higher level of quality, along with the addition of Chardonnay.”

As you can see, Youngberg Hill has fit into the fabric and vision of the Willamette Valley winegrowing culture. We started with Pinot and are expanding our vision to tackle other grapes and creating new wines.

What do you love most about Oregon wines? Comment below to let us know!

How to Read a Wine Barrel

October 28th, 2014 by Rachel

Youngberg Hill Wine Barrel Reading a wine barrel sounds like a relatively simple process. You are looking at a label imprinted into the wood, right? There’s a little more to it than that. On the left you will see one of our new barrels for our estate Pinot Noir. On the top of the barrel is information about it. Some barrel manufacturers (called “cooperages” in the wine world) put more information on their barrels than others.

On this barrel we have:

  • Cadus is the name of the cooperage.
  • France is the source of the barrel.
  • Origine means the point of origin.
  • YH are the initials of Youngberg Hill. This barrel was made specially for us.
  • Troncais is the oak forest in France that the wood is from. There are six different forests this oak type comes from and each forest has specific characteristics.
  • French oak – 30 months air dried means the amount of time after harvesting the tree during which the wood is dried out in the open. After the wood is dried, the barrel is created.
  • M+ signifies that the inside of the barrel has been toasted a certain amount. In this case it was toasted to medium plus. The amount a barrel has been toasted contributes to the taste of your wine.
  • Slow extraction means that this barrel is best used when the wine will be in it for more than a year because the wood slowly interacts with the wine.

At Youngberg Hill we are very specific about our choice in barrels. We use white oak as it has been the standard in the winemaking industry for centuries. It brings out unique qualities in wine and allows wine to interact with it and through it. Youngberg Hill Pinot NoirOther wood has been experimented with, but winemakers around the world have come back to white oak.

The white oak we use for barrels is from France. French white oak barrels have been the barrel of choice for Pinot Noir producers the world over. The qualities we look for are:

  • The age of the oak trees.
  • The weather in which they are grown (cool so the growth is slower and the grain is more open.)
  • The drying conditions of the wood in an open air environment.
  • The manufacturing process of the barrel.

All of these qualities allow Pinot Noir to age beautifully. Every one of these qualities are found in French white oak barrels.

Big red wines like Cabernet, Borolo, Malbec and all those big reds in between can use a wider variation of oak barrels. They are thick skinned, big boned, heavy wines that can compete with other oaks more easily without losing the character of the wine. Pinot Noir is a delicate grape with thinner skins that can be easily overwhelmed by other oak options. French white oak has been found over the centuries to be subtle enough to interact with Pinot Noir.

What else would you like to learn about the Pinot-making process?  Let us know below.

Wine Pairing with Classic Halloween Candies

October 21st, 2014 by Rachel

Wine pairing for Halloween candyIt’s almost Halloween!  It’s time to break out the candy corn, gummy worms, mini Kit Kats and all the other treats we love.  While we try to convince ourselves that only kids enjoy candy on Halloween, we can’t really get away from the fact that adults indulge too.  So, don’t fight it.  Just make it an adult dining experience by pairing your treats with wine.  That way, it’s not even an indulgence.  It’s a culinary adventure!

Here are some classic Halloween candies, with wine pairing recommendations:

  • Candy Corn is one of those Halloween treats that incites extreme reaction.  You either love candy corn, or you despise it.  There is no middle ground.  This (fortunately) is not the case with wine pairing. There are a few whites that would go well with this traditional treat.  Try a big, buttery Chardonnay, Viognier, Riesling or Gewürztraminer while gobbling these goodies.
  • Gummy Worms make your palates pucker in a delicious way. You can try Pinot Noir or Malbec with these sugar-encrusted treats.
  • Skittles and Starburst both pair well with the bubbles and freshness of Moscato or Prosecco.
  • Caramel Apple for those who want to feel as if they are being healthy, while still indulging in a delicious treat, the caramel apple is the way to go. There are also several wines which pair well with this treat-on-a-stick.  These include: Muscat, Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauternes, or Pinot Gris.
  • Red Licorice or Red Vines pair perfectly with Pinot Noir.
  • Reeses Peanut Butter Cups or Peanut M&M’s go well with Port or Sherry.
  • Hershey’s Chocolate Bars, Kit Kats, and Milky Way Bars in those classic, individual sizes or in the lustworthy, family size can be paired with a jammy Zinfandel or Pinot Noir – or with a Merlot.

Feel like snacking on something a little more healthy?  Never fear!  You can still pair your roasted pumpkin seeds with Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Vert

Here’s to you and your Halloween wine pairing adventure!  Let us know in the comments below if you find any other fun wine and candy pairings.

The Elements of a Great Harvest

June 3rd, 2014 by Rachel

June Blog1 - 1st Pic

The elements of a great harvest are both unique and vital to a successful vintage.  Harvest times depends upon many factors, including the year’s weather conditions, crop size, and ripeness.  The decision of when to pick the grapes has a huge impact on the wine’s complexity, flavor, and richness.  Grapes picked too young can fall short in these factors – while overripe grapes can add too much sugar and alcohol to the wine.  The perfectly ripe grape harvest is something every winemaker seeks.

Additionally, great harvest times for every type of wine varies – depending on where the grape is grown and the type of grape.  The grape of choice in many Pacific Northwest vineyards is Pinot, which is usually harvested anytime in fall – depending on the year’s weather.  This is true here in Youngberg Hill and is true for many wineries in the Willamette Valley.

Determining harvest time includes working out how sweet the grapes are.  Sweetness/sugar levels will affect the amount of alcohol in the wines.  Think back for a second…what are the sweetest grapes you have eaten?  If you thought raisins, you were on to something.  Dried fruit has more sugar in it than fresh, perfectly ripe fruit.  The last thing you want in your Pinot Noir or Pinot Gris is a oversweet, raisiny taste and an alcohol level that overwhelms the complexity and depth the wine could show if the grapes were ripe during harvest.

As sugar levels in wine grapes rise, acid levels fall. You want the perfect balance of these two factors to create a well-balanced wine.  With our wine, we want to showcase the land and the grapes – this means the wine itself must be balanced perfectly to allow these amazing factors to shine through.

Another important aspect in determining harvest time is the physiological ripeness of the grapes. This isn’t just tasting the grapes and deciding they taste good enough to eat – we have to take a look at the whole grape including the seeds, skin, and stems.  If those aren’t ripe, they will affect the wine flavor.

Deciding upon the perfect harvest time is a heart stopping procedure that causes plenty of excitement and anxiety each and every year.  But, I think you’ll agree that we hit the nail on the head with our 2013 harvest.  Our newest Pinot Gris is out and we think you’ll find it’s smooth and stunning.


Reasons to Visit the Willamette Valley for Summer

May 27th, 2014 by Rachel

May Blog 4 - pic 1

There are many reasons to visit the Willamette Valley for summer and the first official day of summer is fast approaching.  This means the vines are growing full steam ahead, flowers are in full bloom, and the temperatures are generally perfect.  At least, that’s what it means here in the Willamette Valley.

Not only is our valley absolutely gorgeous this time of year, it’s also just a stone’s throw from many other local sites and “must see” locations.  So, whether you are traveling from nearby Portland or Seattle – or if you’re coming from much farther away, here are just a few reasons to visit us this summer:

– It’s the perfect time to tour wine country by bike.  The scenery is fantastic, the weather is temperate without being roasting, and our roads are bicycle friendly.

– Local vineyards boast new growth, grapes, flowers, and great wine.  We are often compared to Bordeaux, France.  The views from our tasting room and several of the guest rooms in our Inn will show you why.

– The Oregon Coast (one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon) is only an hour away.  Several more wonders such as Mount Hood, the Columbia River Gorge, and Crater Lake can be seen on a day trip from here.

– We have over 150 wineries and tasting rooms in our area alone.  Our winery and Inn keeps things friendly enough for a newbie to wine, but we have enough around us to satisfy the most discerning wine aficionado.

– The International Pinot Celebration happens in summer – and it’s an event not to be missed.

There is so much more to do and see at our winery and in our valley this spring and summer.

We are thrilled to see what else 2014 will bring!