Posts Tagged ‘Willamette Valley’

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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The History of Pinot Noir and Why it is THE Willamette Valley Grape

September 22nd, 2015 by Rachel

Pinot NoirPinot Noir is one of the earliest varieties of grape cultivated and used for making wine. Pinot has been grown in the “Slope of Gold” in Burgundy, France for many hundreds of years. There are many factors that make Burgundy an amazing place to grow Pinot Noir. These include:

  • Gentle sloping hills
  • Longer spring and fall seasons
  • Soil that drains well
  • Cooler temperatures

Fortunately, the Willamette Valley and Yamhill Valley have very similar growing conditions. We have the cooler temperatures, the longer spring and fall seasons and unique soil. The terroir here in the Willamette Valley imparts specific tastes to our Pinot Noir that makes it very uniquely our own.

One aspect of our land allows us to really bring out specific and unique tastes in our wine. That is: the soil. Each block here at Youngberg Hill has very specific soil types, and you can taste this in the wine itself.

For example, the Bailey block is composed primarily of volcanic rock and shale while the Natasha block features mainly marine sedimentary soil. When you taste Pinot Noir created from each of these distinct blocks in the same year, you can tell they are distinct.

To compare the different soils in another way: the 2012 Jordan Pinot Noir pairs well with red meat and game, while the 2012 Natasha Pinot Noir pairs with duck, salmon, and pork. Both are created from Pinot Noir grapes, but they have distinct flavors.

We are very lucky to have such a perfect climate for Pinot Noir here in the Willamette Valley. It’s much like living in a little slice of Burgundy, France.

Don’t believe us? Come visit and enjoy our lovely rolling hills, temperate climate, and fabulous wines for yourself!blog action photo tasting room sing

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

September 15th, 2015 by Rachel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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7 Ways You Can Add Organic Charm to Your Wine Country Wedding

September 1st, 2015 by Rachel

 Wine Country WeddingWe are sure you’ve seen all of the amazing boho-chic and rustic organic charm featured in Pinterest weddings. You have also probably seen the “Pinterest fails” when someone tries to duplicate the beautiful photos and projects featured on that popular website. In this article, we have compiled seven beautiful ideas that will add organic charm to your Willamette Valley wedding. We have seen these ideas in action, so we know you won’t have to take a “fail” picture when using them in your wedding.

1 – Incorporate seasonal flowers. A spring/early summer wedding may bloom with soft pink peonies and roses while a summer wedding can feature glorious dahlias and sunflowers. Using seasonal flowers can only enhance the natural surroundings found here in Oregon Wine country.Wine Country Wedding

2 – Speaking of flowers… think about where you want the flowers.
When we think about boho-chic weddings or weddings with an organic feel, we usually think about flower crowns adorning the bride’s hair, trailing bouquets, and flowers in containers big and small. While you may think to just adorn everything with flowers, that can get pretty expensive. So, consider how and where you’d like to place the flowers so that you get the biggest bang for your buck.

3 – The cake can be anything from crazy creative or super au naturel. Generally, organic or rustic weddings have a cake that either looks like a flower or has flowers involved in the decoration. The other side of the boho/organic coin is to have a very plain looking layered cake. If you want the flower look, but don’t want to actually eat petals, you may want to look at silk flower cake toppers or other faux flower decorations.

Wine Country Wedding4 – Decorations can be creative. Organic weddings have a flowy, wild garden, and vintage feel. This means you can use your imagination when decorating. Think about different fillers you can use. Some ideas include hay, snapdragons, rosemary, feathers, wildflowers, or thistle. Also, look at materials like lace and burlap to decorate your chairs or vases. You can have a ton of fun decorating for your wine country wedding.

5 – Mismatching is okay. We have seen more and more couples use adorably mismatched vases and mason jars, wood and metal buckets, fun wood signs, and more. When you go for a boho-chic look, mismatching goes with the overall look.

Willamette Valley Wedding6 – You aren’t stuck with a traditional dress or only wearing white. Modern brides are not stuck with pure white, traditionally cut dresses. Wedding dresses can be any color and any style.  Pick the dress and color that makes you feel gorgeous and you have your wedding dress!

7 – Have fun with it! Pinterest weddings are always gorgeous, but this is your wedding. You and your partner are celebrating your unique and one-of-a-kind love. So, don’t feel restricted by Pinterest or a set theme. Create your own beauty and we guarantee your wedding will be just as wonderful as your love for one another.

We hope our tips have helped you as you plan your big day!Willamette Valley Wedding

Plan Ahead – Coming to Oregon Wine Country in the “Off-Season”

August 25th, 2015 by Rachel

Oregon Wine CountryHere in Oregon wine country, we tend to feel as if there is no real “off-season.” We are busy all year round, so we don’t have the same schedule as many of our guests. If you are thinking about visiting the WIllamette Valley, but you can’t come during the summer – don’t worry! Our wonderful valley is a great option to get you through that long haul during fall and winter when things get gray and you need a vacation more than ever.

So, to combat winter fatigue, we thought we would provide some ideas for planning your “off-season” vacation now. This way you can get a jump on things and have a lovely winter here in wine country.Oregon Wine Country

  • First things first, get your stay scheduled in advance. Because Oregon wine country is so gorgeous (and often temperate) all year round, we get booked up in the wintertime. Be sure to reserve your favorite room for your vacation.
  • Map out your trip. There is so much to see here in the Yamhill and Willamette Valleys. In our area alone we have over 150 wineries and tasting rooms that you can sample. Make a list of the wineries you’d like to visit most and map your route there.
  • Make sure to visit other area attractions. We are dedicated foodies here in Oregon and we are proud to be surrounded by amazing restaurants like the Joel Palmer House, Thistle, and Bistro Maison. There are also local artists, delicious handmade chocolates, and gorgeous views all throughout our valley.
  • Use us as your home base. You may want a day on the coast or to pop up to Portland for several hours. We are your perfect, quiet, and cozy base for day trips!
  • Ask us questions! What is the focus of your trip? Do you want to see the sites, enjoy unique wines, or just relax for a few days? Let us know and we will work to help you make your dreams a reality!

Winter, spring, summer, and fall in the Willamette valley are incredibly beautiful and unique. We hope to make your trip perfect, no matter what the date or time of year

Five Fun Things to Do at a Winery

July 28th, 2015 by Rachel

WineryHeading out to a winery for a visit is always a great time. There are wines to taste, questions to ask, and sights to see. However, there is more to do at a winery then simply go wine tasting. Here are five activities that you should plan to do when you visit an Oregon winery:

#1. Stay. Many wineries, Youngberg Hill included, have an inn or bed and breakfast attached to the vineyard. These are gorgeous places to stay – and they are often right in the middle of wine country. In our case, we are surrounded by over 150 wineries and tasting rooms.

#2. Take a driving tour. Wine country is absolutely beautiful. Don’t miss a minute of it searching for street signs or worrying about where you should go next. Instead, schedule a driving tour and let someone else take you through wine country.

#3. Schedule a tour of the vineyard and/or barrel room. Many wineries will offer a tour of the vineyard or barrel room if you schedule one ahead of time. Call them up and ask if it is possible to get one. You will have the opportunity to see how the grapes are grown, the winemaking process, and possibly have a chance to taste some wine right out of the barrel.

Winery Tour#4. Pack a picnic. Many wineries and tasting rooms don’t offer food, but will allow you to eat on their porch and enjoy the scenery. Pack a picnic, buy a bottle, sit on the deck and soak in the beauty of the surrounding countryside. You won’t be disappointed.

#5. Attend a winemaker dinner. Winemaker dinners are a fantastic opportunity to sip great wine, eat perfectly paired food, and pick the brain of the people who put their heart and soul into creating the wine. Not only does this give you a chance to understand what you are drinking in an in-depth way, you will have interesting conversations and you may even make a friend or five.

Visiting a winery is not just about the tasting – although that is always delightful. You have an opportunity to get an in-depth look at the wine, those who created it, and the vineyard in which it was grown.

We would love to hear your favorite part of a winery visit. Let us know!

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!

Ten Fun Reasons to Come to the Willamette Valley This Summer

June 23rd, 2015 by Rachel

Come to the Willamette Valley this summerSummer is a fantastic season to spend time here in the Willamette Valley. There are a ton of events and activities going on throughout the valley. Here are ten fun reasons to come to the Willamette Valley this summer!

Every Thursday beginning May 21st is the return of Farmer’s Market in McMinnville. We love pairing our wine with the local goodies provided by surrounding farms.

Wine Wednesday beginning June 17th we are featuring our Wine Wednesday music on the deck. Enjoy great tunes, lovely sights and delicious wine.

July is Oregon Craft Beer Month, which means it’s a great time to check out all of our local craft breweries. The Willamette Valley is both Oregon wine country and Oregon beer country, so be sure to taste both!

July 12th is the date on which we are hosting the McMinnville Area Habitat for Humanity Women’s Build Fundraiser. From 2pm-5pm we will be hosting wonderful people supporting a delightful cause. Come to the Willamette Valley this summer

July 22 we will be celebrating 25 years of Youngberg Hill and 50 years of Pinot Noir here in the Willamette Valley with a fantastic winemaker dinner. Internationally acclaimed chef Katherine Frelon will be creating amazing food to pair with our wine.

July 24th-26th is the International Pinot Noir Celebration here in McMinnville, Oregon. This three day event is the mecca for Pinot Noir lovers and northwest cuisine. World-renowned winemakers will join chefs, epicures and wine lovers in our little town of McMinnville. Tickets are available through our website.

August 8th is the annual Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon. Run through the Willamette Valley, past Dundee Hills, Yamhill-Carlton, Chehalem Mountains, and Ribbon Ridge.

August 9th- 24th will be peak watching conditions for the Perseid Meteor Shower. You can watch for this lovely astral event from anywhere here in the Willamette Valley… but we have the best view of the stars here at Youngberg Hill!

August 24th is Carlton’s Walk in the Park Golf Tournament. Signing up to this activity provides a golfer with a dinner, 18 holes of golf on the Chehalem Glenn Golf Course, a free mulligan, tournament prizes and more.

September 12th is the Carlton Crush Harvest Festival. This fun local event is host to tons of wine-themed activities from a grape stomp competition to a barrel rolling race, classic car display and more.

Throughout summer and winter you will be eligible to win wine from Willamette Valley wineries. The entire valley is celebrating 50 years of Pinot Noir. Check out the Willamette Valley website to get all the details on how to win some fantastic local wine!

All of these great activities are at our Willamette Valley Inn and vineyard or are nearby. So, if you need a hub from which to enjoy your summer in Oregon wine country, consider Youngberg Hill!

Wine Tasting Do’s and Don’ts

June 2nd, 2015 by Rachel

Wine TastingWe all know how to drink wine at home or in a restaurant. But things can get a little awkward when you visit a winery to taste their wine. You may be meeting the very person who poured his or her heart and soul into that wine. How should you act around this person? What if you don’t know much about wine? We’re here to help with some tips on the etiquette of wine tasting at a winery.

DO be considerate to those around you.

When preparing for a tasting, think about those who will be around you. This may mean using less perfume, or aftershave – or using nothing at all so that you and they can enjoy the bouquet of the wine. Additionally, you may want to eat a good meal before heading to the winery so that you can keep a clear head throughout your experience.

DON’T expect a meal.

Many wineries lay out crackers to help you clear your palette between tastings. However, small boutique wineries rarely have a restaurant or additional food available. One fun idea is to bring your own picnic lunch with you. Many wineries (including our Willamette Valley winery) have outdoor spaces where you can relax, eat, and enjoy the breathtaking views.

DO head to the winery earlier in the day or during weekdays.

If you want to make sure you have plenty of one-on-one time at the wine tasting, try arriving on days or hours that are likely to be less busy. Many wine tastings happen on the weekend or after lunch. However, most tasting rooms are open throughout the week and have longer tasting hours. For example, our tasting room is open 7 days a week from 10AM-4PM. So, pack a picnic and head out after breakfast to enjoy a leisurely tasting.

DON’T expect to taste every wine available on a winery’s website.

Wineries often keep specific wines available for tasting. The wines available for tasting depend upon many factors, including inventory, how much stock is promised to their wine club members, and which wines they feel best represent the winery. The wines available for tasting are often pre-determined. However, you can always ask if a particular vintage is available for tasting.

DO ask questions.

It is absolutely expected that you will ask questions and discuss the wine at a wine tasting. The person hosting your wine tasting has likely heard every question under the sun, so don’t be shy about asking him or her something you may think is silly. No matter how much or how little education you may have in the area of wine, there is always something to be learned.

DON’T try to pour your own wine during the tasting.

The tasting room attendant is there to pour your wine and discuss it with you. Be sure to allow them to do their job and serve you.

DO use the dump bucket as needed.

A wine tasting can help you discover wine that you love, without having to drink an entire bottle. However, there may be a wine that has characteristics which you do not enjoy served along with the other wines. Or perhaps you are planning on going to multiple tastings and you want to keep your palette and head clear throughout your experience. Either way, it is perfectly okay to use the dump bucket. That’s what it is there for!

DON’T head out into the vineyard alone.

Many boutique wineries have vineyards attached to the property. These are gorgeous spaces, but they are also active farms. If you’d like a tour of the vineyard along with your tasting, call ahead and see if the winery offers such tours.Enjoying Willamette Valley Wine Tasting

DO take time to enjoy the atmosphere and scenery.

Tasting rooms are there to showcase the wine and winery. There is often an atmosphere of leisure in a tasting room. Take your time and sip your wine. Look out at the scenery and enjoy the space. Concentrate on the wine and the beauty that surrounds you. We often forget what a pleasure it is to really taste and smell what we are drinking. Make sure to take time to do just that while at a wine tasting.

No matter where you go for your wine tasting, we hope you have a wonderful time!