Posts Tagged ‘Willamette Valley’

Wine & Civilization

April 23rd, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

Wine  civilizationWho would have ever thought there would be wine grapes grown, and wine made, in every state in the country today?  Having grown up in the midwest, it’s inconceivable to me that grapes are being grown in North Dakota, Montana, or Iowa.  But they are.  Did you know that prior to prohibition, Oregon farmers were growing grapes and making wine?  Missouri was the largest grape-growing state at the time, and New York was the largest producer of wine.  And at the same time Spanish priests were planting grapes in California, Thomas Jefferson was planting them in Virginia.

It is amazing that everywhere people live, and in fact, wherever civilization has existed, grapes have been grown and wine has been made. There is proof that wine was produced by ancient civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece as early as 4000 BC.

So I suggest that growing grapes and making wine is not just a lifestyle, it is part of the human condition.  It is natural and even inherent to grow, produce, and consume a product that is founded on farming and fermentation.

So explore the contrasts of wine from different regions across our great country.  While we may have many different beliefs, priorities and climates; we seem to all enjoy the growing of grapes and the making of wine.   Maybe this is what is meant by “purple mountain majesties”!

 

 

Message in a Bottle

April 13th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

message in a bottleGenerally wine lovers cherish fond memories of the occasion for which they opened a particular bottle of wine.  Whether a gathering of close friends, an enchanting gala, or a quiet evening by the fire, we can think back to what made that time meaningful.

For me as a winemaker, I am transported back to the year that wine was created.  Immediately after uncorking a wine, the deep aromas and first sip remind me of what was happening with our family and farm the year the grapes were grown and the wine was barreled.  Any weather anomalies we may have had that year, any especially wet or dry months, late freezes or perfect Indian summers rise to the surface.  What else happened during that summer?  Maybe a calf was born, one of our girls took their first bike ride or acted in a local theater play, we got a new loader, we lost a tote of grapes at harvest, or the birds invaded with more gusto than usual.

A singular open bottle evokes memories of the winemaking itself during that season – the evolution of the wine, whether the fermentation went fast or slow, how it tasted going into barrel, the magic of one particular barrel in the cellar, and of course the release of the vintage.  Every sip of that wine is a celebration of the life that transpired that year – both the good times and the challenges.

 

A Wine Country Spa Day

April 6th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

spa blogI had the pleasure of being treated to a spa day at the Allison.  I was not disappointed.  It was a luxurious spa experience that provided relaxation and rejuvenation that I really needed.   It combines a day experience that is calming, relaxing and blissfully indulgent. They have a vast array of rejuvenating therapies.  I recommend doing it with a friend and planning extra time to relax onsite before and after.  Its an easy drive from Youngberg Hill and many of our guests go for a spa experience.  Now I can talk with them about the whole adventure.  This is a great treat for a few hours or even a half day when in Oregon’s Wine Country.   I am now stress free for the moment and isn’t that every woman’s wish?

 

White in Time!

March 16th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

white wineWith the approach of spring, warmer weather and white wine comes to mind.  We are preparing to bottle our 2012 Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc in April.  Which is timely, because we sold out the last of our 2011’s in September.  We leave our white wines in stainless steel tanks after fermentation, then cold stabilize, and bottle.  Different from our Pinot Noir, we make our Gris and Blanc to drink young, so they will be available in May – just in time for warmer weather and sunny skies.
Come join us on the Hill for a taste of Spring!

 

To Each His Own

March 9th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

wine is like musicWe often hear from guests in our tasting room that they don’t know how to explain what they are tasting, and therefore can’t say why they like or don’t like a wine.  I sometimes use the analogy that wine is like music – you and I may like (or dislike)the same song, but for different reasons.  The same applies to wine.  Different experiences and tastes may bring us to the same conclusion, or to two very different conclusions about a particular vintage.  It’s not always necessary to articulate why, but it IS important to realize what your particular tastes are.  That’s the joy (and benefit) of wine tasting!

 

 

I am an Oregonian!

February 23rd, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

I am an OregonianHow does one become an Oregonian?  Those of us who’ve moved here from a different state to live understand what I’m asking.  We moved here 10 years ago from Chicago and sometimes I still feel like I am not considered to be an Oregonian by some.  Oregonians are proud, easy going people, and very friendly, but like many people everywhere, some Oregonians have a hard time accepting change.  I’m still told regularly that I’m not an Oregonian.  I walk too fast and talk too fast and drive too fast.  Many things that used to drive me crazy I now accept as part of the culture, like never pumping my own gas.  I use to be  frustrated that I am not allowed to do this basic task when I have been doing it for almost 20 years.  Now I think of having a gas station attendant pump my gas as a little gift so I don’t have to get out of the car on a rainy winter day.

I’ve discovered there isn’t a magic formula for becoming an Oregonian.   I do know that you feel like one before you are one.  You can’t change Oregon, but it changes you. These days I am slowing down.  I am starting to understand small town living, look forward to talking to people on 3rd Street, and I have found that as I’ve made friends and gotten to know my neighbors, I’m not too concerned anymore about not being considered an Oregonian.  I just absolutely love living here and I can’t think of any place I would rather be than this wonderful place called Oregon.

Hey, I am an Oregonian!

~Nicolette

 

Wine & Chocolate

February 16th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

pinsperationWine and chocolate are often paired together, particularly during this romantic time of year.  Why?  Just ask Natalie MacLean, author of Red, White and Drunk All Over:  “Wine is liquid sensuality: Its heady bouquet stimulates the appetite and its velvet caress soothes that desire. What other drink is described as both ‘voluptuous’ and ‘muscular’? And when you pair wine with the mouth-coating luxury of chocolate, the combination is impossible to resist.”

And scientifically speaking, they’re made for each other.  The acid in wine and the fat in chocolate are natural characteristics that balance the other on the palate.  The more fat in the chocolate, the more acid needed to offset it.

Also, chocolate is considered to have an “earth” characteristics, as opposed to a “fruit” characteristics.  So if you eat chocolate with a more earthy wine, you will find that they pair quite nicely.  You might often see chocolate, or cocoa, used as a descriptor for wine flavors.  Chances are that particular wine will be a pleasing complement to chocolate.  Now for the coup de grape, there are chocolatiers that make truffles infused with wine.  We have wine truffle chocolates in our Inn guest rooms to enjoy.  Heaven!

 

Pruning 101

February 9th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

pruningIts pruning time in Oregon and all the vineyards are hard at work.  Pruning is the most important function we do for the health of the plants and the production of wine grapes.  We are not pruning solely to obtain the highest yield or get rid of the old growth, although these factors are important.  Primarily we are pruning to provide the best flow of nutrients, water, and energy from the vine through to the shoots, the leaves, and ultimately, the fruit.

So what is pruning?  For most of us who are growing Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley, it is cutting off almost all the vegetative growth from the previous growing season.  At the end of each season, all that’s left is the stock, two fruiting canes – growing from and perpendicular to the stock, and about 14-16 shoots coming off the fruiting canes.  The beautiful canopy of leafy shade is gone, and all that remains is the skeleton of the plant.

On each plant, we will cut off both last year’s fruiting canes with all the shoots leaving only two new fruiting canes that were new shoots grown last year. The selection of which shoots to leave as the next year’s fruiting cane is critical. We choose these shoots based on how the energy and balance flow in the vine.  This may be an easy selection on one vine and a very difficult one on the next.  It is important for the health of the vine and its production to select the shoots that are going to do the best job of transferring nutrients and energy throughout the plant. This takes a trained eye and an understanding of the physiology of the vines.

Ultimately, we strive to help keep the plant in balance as it prepares to burst forth once again.  If your visiting an Oregon winery in the next few weeks ask them to show you.  We would love it!

 

 

Wine Serving Temperatures

January 12th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

temperaturesSo at what temperature should you enjoy your favorite wine?  As depicted in the diagram, it depends on what type of wine it is.  But also heavily factored is how you prefer it.  Just as what kind of wine you like, and what food you pair it with, the temperature of the wine is a personal preference, but a little guidance may help.  Most wine is consumed either too cold which masks the taste (in the case of white wine) or too warm (in the case of red).  Why?  Because most of the time we pull a bottle of white out of the refrigerator or a bottle of red off the wine rack in the dining room.

Ideally, both are kept in a wine cellar or other temperature-controlled environment at a temperature of 55 degrees.  White wine could then be pulled from the cellar, opened, and drank immediately.  Red wine could also be pulled out of the cellar, opened to breathe, poured into a larger glass (warmed by the hands), and drank.

Another factor to consider is whether or not you are eating food with it, and if so, what is the temperature of that food?  If the wine is closer in temperature to the food temperature, there is better exchange of flavors. I don’t mean to suggest your wine should be as hot as your soup!  But a white wine could go a little cooler with a salad and a little warmer with a crab cake.

It also depends on the weather.  A refreshing cool wine (white or red) hits the spot on a sunny day, while a warmer wine by the fire on a winter night is just right!

 

 

Times They are A-Changing!

January 5th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

wine packagingI never thought I would see a French wine bottled with a screw cap. Well, it has happened, and more than once.  As we consider ALL aspects of storing, transporting, serving, and drinking wine, our priorities can change.

In regards to closures, it was once believed that cork was the only way to seal wine in a bottle. Now we know that other closures may be better for the wine, the consumer, and the environment. The “right” answer may vary from wine to wine, and even change over time as we get more information.

Wine used to be transported in barrels to its destination of consumption, similar to beer. That changed with the development of glass bottles, making wine purchasing more economical and convenient.  The 750ml bottle became the standard of the industry, and remained so for many years.  Today, barrels (or kegs) are again being used to transport wine to the point of consumption and purchase.  Furthermore wine is currently available in boxes, bags, plastic bottles, and can even be purchased by going to a retailer and “filling up” your container as if you were at a gas station.  To date, none of these alternatives have jeopardized the quality of the wine.  In fact, in many cases, the quality has been enhanced, just as we have seen with the screw cap.

In what alternative packaging have you obtained your favorite wines recently?