Posts Tagged ‘Willamette Valley’

Oregon Wine Harvest 2016 Update

September 8th, 2016 by Nicolette Bailey

DSC_6926It is hard to believe that September has just begun, and in the Willamette Valley Oregon wine country is in its second week of harvest. Even the pioneers that have been growing Pinot in the valley for 50 years do not remember harvesting a vintage this early in the season. As a result, wines in this year’s vintage are expected to be more robust and fruit forward due to ripening fruit in hotter days of August rather than cooler days of September.

This early harvest isn’t because this was a particularly hot year. In fact, the 2016 growing season was slightly below normal in temperature. Vintners use what’s called Degree Days to calculate the seasonal DSC_7121temperature.  This measurement is the number of hours the vineyard experiences above 60 degrees.  In a typical year we expect degree days to be somewhere around 2,100 hours.  This year we were below 2,000 hours.

So why are we harvesting so early? An early spring, occurring about 3 weeks earlier than normal, and warmer than normal temperature during the spring contributed to this early harvest. In fact, at the start of June, our degree days were already about 200 or 300 hours above normal. Added to that were little heat spikes at just the right time to push fruit through critical stages of ripening faster. All these factors resulted in a significantly earlier harvest. The last two years we have picked our first fruit the 17th of September. This year we may be picking our first fruit before the 10th. At this rate, we could be done harvesting by the end of September, compared with October 7th of last year.

Is this a global warming trend? Who knows. It was only 5 years ago, 2011, when we had our coldest growing season ever and finished harvesting on November 7th.



Top 5 Festivals for Fall Wine Events

September 3rd, 2016 by Nicolette Bailey

Harvest for the 2016 vintage is just around the corner and that means it’s almost time to celebrate. There are numerous festivals around Oregon that incorporate local sustainable farms, specialty chefs, and famous wineries. Come experience what Oregon Wine country is all about with these Top 5 Festivals for Harvest Wine Events.

blog 8 2016 4Carlton Crush Harvest Festival – September 10, 2016

The Carlton Crush Harvest festival is a full day of activities for both kids and adults. It features complimentary morning yoga, live music and entertainment, Kids’ Watermelon Eating contest and Grape Stomp, and local art. Enjoy terrific food from a variety of restaurants such as The Horse Radish, and Ribslayer BBQ. Match the mouthwatering food with your choice of wine from more than 10 local wineries around the area. Entrance and Parking Free.


Feast Portland – September 15-18, 2016blog 8 2016

Known as the “The best food festival in the country.” by Thrillist National, the “food festival to beat” by Tasting Table Feast Portland is entering it’s 5th year of inspiring the creative revolution of food and wine. Feast Portland offers a full weekend of hands on cooking and cocktail classes, wine tastings, brunch, BBQ cookouts, IPA tasting and once-in-a lifetime experiences. Since 2012 Feast Portland has donated over 200,000 dollars to end child hunger. Fees Vary.

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Wine Country Half Marathon- August 13, 2016

Do you love to run? Do you love wine? If you said yes to at least one of these questions, the Wine Country Half Marathon is perfect for you. The course takes you in the heart of Willamette wine country. It starts at Stoller Family Estate and finishes on Main Street in Carlton where you are greeted by the Wine and Music Festival. At the Festival there will be over 20 local wineries and live music along with the Lagunitas Brewing Company! Come join the summer fun! Fees Vary.

Bounty of Yamhill County – August 26-28th, 2016blog 8 2016 2

In 2015, Bounty of Yamhill County placed #2 in USA TODAY 10 Best Readers’ Choice Award for Best General Food Festival. Get your wine adventure buddy and go horseback riding as your mode of travel to three Dundee Hill Wineries. Enjoy a sunrise air balloon ride followed by a sparkling brunch, do yoga and experience a wine tasting breakfast buffet, kayak in Oregon’s Willamette Valley River followed by a picnic lunch and tasting at Hyland estates, or even take part in an Eola-Amity hills vineyard hike. This weekend is full of adventure and wine! Fees Vary.


blog 8 2016 3¡Salud! – November 11-12th, 2016

November 11th offers a variety of Cuvée Tasting and a Big Board Auction. A rare opportunity to taste over 40 wineries in Oregon, and meet the winemakers themselves. Each estate has made a specialty Cuvée just for this event and offers a barrel tasting that you cannot experience anywhere else. Saturday Night is the 25th Annual Wine Auction Celebration and Gala. The silent and live auction make a great opportunity to find rare library wines, winemaker experiences, unique travel packages, and to celebrate Pinot Noir. November 11: $275  November 12th, Gala and Auction: $500.
Continue to experience the Willamette Valley wines and stop by Youngberg Hill’s tasting room and try award winning Pinot Noirs. It is also the perfect time to sit on the deck, enjoy harvest and to stay at Youngberg Hill Inn and enjoy the view! Find us at:


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Veraison in the Willamette Valley

August 15th, 2016 by Nicolette Bailey

Veraison blogGrapes turning color in the Willamette Valley means that veraison is upon us. Veraison is an exciting time for grape growers because it signals the beginning of the ripening stage. Pinot Noir grapes turn from green to a dark black-blue color. Pinot Gris grapes turn autumn colors like orange, red, and yellow. Pinot Blanc grapes turn a very light frosty green. This process typically takes about two weeks to complete and then serious ripening begins.

Although it is the easiest to recognize, skin color is not the only change to occur. The pulp of the berries change from a gelatin to a more liquid consistency.  With this change, the pulp also adheres less to the seeds. The flavors of the fruit begin, meaning that instead of just tasting like grapes, you can taste all the other flavors that will later be enjoyed in the wine. The seeds themselves will turn from green to brown, lending to more mature seed tannins. The tannins that will show up in the wine later also develop in the skins, softening as the grape matures. And yes, the fruit becomes sweeter, shifting away from the unripen tartness.

From the time of veraison forward, we hope for continued long, cool, dry, sunny weather through harvest. This will slow the ripening and allow all of the above transitions to evolve in concert.  The more balanced all these characteristics are in the fruit at harvest, the more balanced and of higher quality the finished wine will be. Hot weather during ripening pushes the fruit to ripen faster bring out more robust, fruit forward characteristics that typically throw the wine out of balance. Too cool of weather may also lead to an unbalanced wine via unripe fruit.

It’s this important stage of the grapes growing cycle that makes Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley so special. We are blessed with the weather needed to provide wonderfully balanced fruit to produce the highest quality Pinot Noir.

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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!


The Heart of Burgundy or the Heart of Willamette Valley

May 17th, 2016 by Nicolette Bailey

beaune blog mapBeaune is the capital and heart of the Burgundy: a historic and storied Pinot Noir region. McMinnville is the capital and heart of Willamette Valley, which is home to many wineries that specialize in Pinot Noir.  In addition to geographic similarities, McMinnville is also home to the IPNC, or the International Pinot Noir Celebration.  McMinnville is in many ways the Beaune of the New World.

Now in its 30th year, the International Pinot Noir Celebration is held the last full weekend of July in McMinnville, Oregon. The event offers Pinot noir consumers and industry members the chance to enjoy an unparalleled selection of Pinot noir from around the world via a full schedule of seminars, walk around tastings, winery tours, and unforgettable meals prepared by top Northwest chefs. With the exception of vineyard and winery tmcminnville blogours, the IPNC is held on the beautiful and historic campus of Linfield College. The IPNC offers three experiences for guests to choose from: The Full Weekend (Friday-Sunday), Salmon Bake (Saturday evening), and the Passport to Pinot (Sunday afternoon).

IPNC is open to the public as a celebration to Pinot Noir and is truly international. Wineries and winemakers from all the major Pinot Noir growing regions in the world are represented including Willamette Valley, Burgundy, New Zealand, California, as well as other regions like Austria, Germany, Canada, and Chili. It is a great way to experience Pinot Noirs from all over the world along with learning about terroir and what differentiates Pinot Noir from around the world. The weekend is laced with one of a kind eating and wine tasting experiences. For more information, go to blog

Prior to IPNC, it is customary for wineries in the valley to have welcoming dinners on Thursday night. Similar to years past, Youngberg Hill will be hosting one of these culinary experiences. This year, renowned chef Michael Smith, of Michael Smith Restaurant in Kansas City, will be the guest chef. The dinner will be held outside in our new event building overlooking the most fabulous views in the valley.  It’s in this very relaxed environment, that you will enjoy an intimate evening of wine and food. Go to for more information and to reserve your seats now.

The IPNC is separate from another Pinot event: OPC, or Oregon Pinot Camp. OPC, on the other hand, is for educating individuals from all over the world, who are involved in the wine trade.  They spend time learning about what makes growing Pinot Noir grapes and making Pinot Noir in the valley so special. With this experience, these lucky individuals become ambassadors for Oregon Pinot Noir around the world.

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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.


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.

4 Reasons to choose a Bed & Breakfast in the Willamette Valley

February 3rd, 2016 by Nicolette Bailey

When trTripadvisor Certificate of Excellenceaveling through the Willamette Valley in Oregon, a bed & breakfast might not be your first lodging choice, but here are four reasons why it should be number one.

Let’s start at the beginning: breakfast. Nothing starts a day better than a delicious homemade breakfast, and that is exactly what you’ll get at a bed & breakfast.  Wake up to the wafting smells of freshly brewed coffee and breakfast being prepared by hand and with love. The breakfast you’ll enjoy is unique and different from that which you might normally prepare at home or have at a hotel.  Even if you don’t normally start your day with a full breakfast, while in the Willamette Valley, you may want to enjoy the morning meal.  After all, it is important to wake up your taste buds, and fill your stomach, prior to a day of wine tasting.  It will feel like home, but taste like a restaurant.

The second reason to stay at a bed and breakfast is for the serene experience. Unplug, and detox from all the hustle and bustle of your everyday life in a beautiful Willamette Valley bed and breakfast.  Located in rural locations, these establishments provide spectacular views, quiet and serene environments, limited light pollution, easy access to nature, and the relaxation of not having to do anything but drink wine.

Reason number three on why you should stay at a bed & breakfast is the people.  Bed and breakfasts are congregation areas for people that are passionate about good wine, good food, and enjoying both while relaxing and taking in the beautiful surroundings.  You’ll have unique opportunities to meet new people from all over the world. It is always amazing how many connections are made, new friendships established, and storiea Inn guest review of Youngberg Hills shared by people from different places and lives. At Youngberg Hill, you have multiple opportunities to meet with your fellow travelers not only at breakfast, but also during the exclusive wine tasting reception hour; just another opportunity to taste great pinot noirs of the Willamette Valley!

The final reason you need to stay at a bed & breakfast is the service.  Guests have exclusive access to some of the most knowledgeable people around: the owners and innkeepers.  These people are your built-in concierge service, there to help you navigate the innumerable wineries, dozens of restaurants for lunch and dinner, and other activities during your time in the valley. Knowing the local scene, logistics of getting around in the valley, realistic travel times, and where to have the best experiences are all worth their weight in gold when it comes to making your Willamette Valley experience remarkable.  They are there to make your trip as effortless and enjoyable as possible.

So the next time you think about visiting the Willamette Valley in Oregon, treat yourself and stay at a bed and breakfast.

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.


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!