Posts Tagged ‘wine country’

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?

 

 

Winning Wines

December 29th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

robert parkerOpinions on wine ratings can range as wide as the ratings on the bottles of wine themselves.  The most interesting thing to me is that all the attention tends to be paid to those wines that rate a 90 or above, which are considered by the rater to be outstanding or better.  Are we all drinking outstanding or better wines every night at dinner?  Are those the only bottles of wine we are purchasing at our favorite wine retailer?  Probably not.  What about the 80 to 90 point wines, considered to be very good to great wines? In most cases, those are the wines we drink on a regular basis.

Also interesting is the point to price relationship.  A producer may have a wine priced at $50 dollars receive a rating of 87, and another wine priced at $30 rated 90. How could that be? The producer certainly would argue that the higher priced wine is the higher valued (better) wine. What went wrong?

I would suggest remembering two factors when deciding to purchase wine based on ratings. First is the condition under which a wine is rated. Typically a wine is rated in a group of several wines at the same time, so a singular wine cannot help but be rated relative to the other wines being tasted.  Second, the rater is biased by what he likes and does not like.

When using ratings to make a purchase, use the critic’s description of the wine rather than the number to decide whether that is a wine you would like.  Second, use the ratings of someone whom you have found to have a similar taste to yours. If you have not identified that particular wine critic, that is when the fun begins!

 

I Am Woman – Hear Me Pour

December 22nd, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

As we all know, women get better with age, just as wine does.  But there are many more reasons to talk about wine and women. They are both important to men.  Women make over 80 percent of wine purchasing decisions. It is suggested that women have better wine tasting abilities. There are more and more woman wine makers across the world.

Woman winemakers in the Willamette Valley are making their presence known and influencing the industry as it continues to grow.  As the list below attests, women are playing a significant and leading role in the Oregon wine industry.  And it’s not just about wine, but includes all the periferal businesses associated with wine and wine tourism in the valley.  Women are significant influencers in many wineries in the valley, if not the key decision makers.  Women are making decisions in label design, packaging, brand building, and marketing. They are involved in glassware, gifts, and wine paraphernalia of all types.

The next time you raise a glass, you may be toasting the work of a woman.

A to Z: Cheryl Francis

Amity Vineyards: Darcy Pendergrass

Antica Terra: Maggie Harrison

Ardiri Winery and Vineyards: Gail Lizak

Archery Summit Winery: Anna Matzinger

Chehalem: Wynne Peterson-Nedry

Coeur de Terre: Lisa Neal

De Ponte: Isabelle Dutarte

Domaine Drouhin Oregon: Veronique Drouhin-Boss

Helioterra: Anne Evenreiter Hubatch

Hip Chicks Do Wine: Renee Neely and Laurie Lewis

Honeywood Winery: Marlene K. Gallick

Kelley Fox Wines and Scott Paul Wines: Kelley Fox

Kramer Vineyards: Kimberly Kramer

Laura Volkman: Laura Volkman

Momtazi: Tahmiene Momtazi

Noble Pig: Cathy Pollack

Orchid Heights Winery: Carole Wyscaver

Patricia Green Cellars: Patricia Green

Ponzi: Luisa Ponzi

Phelps Creek: Alexandrine Roy

Privè: Tina Hammond

Penner-Ash Wine Cellars and Alexana Estate Vineyards and Winery: Lynn Penner-Ash

Redman Wines: Cathy Redman

River’s Edge Winery: Yvonne Landt

Stoller Vineyards: Melissa Burr

Stone Wolf Vineyards: Linda Lindsall

Sweet Cheeks Winery: Lorrie Normann

Tyee Cellars: Merrilee Buchanan

Westrey Wine Company: Amy Wesselman

Winter’s Hill Vineyard: Delphine Gladhart

The Power Of Wine

December 15th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

The Oregon Wine Industry continues to grow, with more wineries cropping up each year, and existing wineries expanding their production.  The state of Oregon is third in the country in number of wineries and vineyard acreage.  While Pinot Noir makes up almost 75% of wine production in Oregon, Pinot Noir consumption in the US is currently only 5% of total wine consumption.  But market research indicates that Pinot Noir is the fastest growing wine category, and Oregon Pinot Noir is just being discovered in most of the country and the world.

I believe this is all good news for the Oregon wine industry.  And with our industry contributing almost $3 billion to the state’s economy,  we are having a significant impact on Oregon’s economic picture as a whole.  When you consider associative industries like tourism and hospitality that have benefitted from the wine industry’s strength, that impact increases significantly.

In the years to come, the percentage of wine-related tourism will continue to grow as will the awareness and growth of the industry itself. This growth will show itself in restaurants, lodging, car rental, airlines, attractions, retail shops, and so on.

Here’s to the wine industry in Oregon!

 

 

Is The Wine Ready?

December 8th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

Now it’s time to get the wine in the barrel.  Since harvest in mid- October, we have been nurturing the wine in the winery. From the time the fruit is brought in until it is put into barrel is the most vulnerable time as there are many chemical reactions taking place as the wine is transforming, and the chance of a negative chemical reaction is high. So it is very important for a winemaker to be watching over the wine to prevent this from happening.

Once the sugar has been completely used up by the yeast and converted to alcohol, the wine is settled to continue interaction with the must (skins, seeds, and dead yeast).  The secondary fermentation of the harsher malo acid converting to a fuller, softer lactic acid also begins.  The wine continues to be tasted every day to gauge the evolution of the wine as it sits with the skins.

When we feel the wine has had enough contact with the skins, we first pour off all the “free run” wine. Because the wine settles to the bottom of the tank and the must rises to the top, we can open a valve at the bottom of the tank and let gravity freely drain much of the wine off the skins. Then we press the wet must to get remaining juice from the skins. We do this gradually, tasting the juice at intervals, so that we can stop pressing once we sense characteristics showing in the juice that are not to our liking.

We will keep the “free run” wine in separate barrels from the “pressed” wine until we are ready to bottle, and determine at that time how much of the pressed we want to blend back in to the main wine.

Wine is Life

December 2nd, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

Wine has been a part of our society for thousands of years.  There is evidence of wine production and consumption in the Sumerian culture some 3000 to 4500 BC.  Writers, poets, historians and the like have integrated the subject of wine into their writings, just as we today see wine as a symbol of togetherness, celebration and relaxation.  As a grower and producer of wine, I like to compare the milestones in my life to the process of growing grapes, making wine, letting it age and so forth. Let’s take a trip through life.

The nine months the grapes are developing on the vines is similar to the nine months that a baby is in the womb. The fetus is nurtured through the mother just as wine grapes are nurtured through the vine.

At harvest the grapes are transformed into wine in the winery, just as a fetus becomes a baby. In both cases, they are now independent and yet dependent on the care of the winemaker/parents.

From birth to adulthood, parents are nurturing the child, keeping it safe, and helping it develop. The winemaker is doing the same for the wine through the winemaking process and on into barrel.  In both cases, the best possible outcome will be to allow the child/wine to develop without any preconceived notion as to what it should be.

Otherwise it may not reach its full potential.  As wine ages in the barrel (and a child becomes a young adult) it begins to mature and develop the characteristics that will define it for years to come.

Once in the bottle, the wine begins the slow aging process that, if developed well, will continue to get better, just as a young adult gains knowledge and wisdom through life’s experiences and grows into a mature adult.  Wine continues to develop in the bottle, at some point reaching its prime.  After that, the wine will continue to be good for a very long time, which with any luck is just what we do, too!

 

 

Wine Tour Oregon

November 24th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

Wine touring in the Willamette Valley can sometimes be a bit daunting. There are over 250 wineries in the valley, and each winery may produce six or seven different varietals. Because of the fluctuations in weather, soil types, altitudes, and overall location (terroir), the Willamette Valley is divided into six distinct sub-AVAs, reaching from Portland to Eugene.

Wine lovers travel to our beloved wine country from all over the world, and we try to assist them in getting a broad perspective of the various sub-AVAs, and also sampling their favorite style of Pinot Noirs. Depending on whether guests are with us for one day or five, we will guide them in a way to minimize their travel on any particular day by concentrating on one or two sub-AVAs; or give them a whirlwind tour across all six sub-AVAs so they have a chance to experience the broad variation in wines produced throughout the Willamette Valley.

We recommend only four or five wine tastings/wineries per day as more than that will tend to leave your taste buds dulled and not give you enough time to experience each winery to its fullest. Most guests drive themselves, in which case a map outlining the various AVAs and our recommendations within each may prove helpful: http://youngberghill.com/our-area/wine-driving-tour/ .  Others guests prefer to be driven by a tour company, and we are happy to recommend a tour that will fit your interests. There are customized tours on our website that we invite you to peruse: http://youngberghill.com/specials-packages/ .  What’s most important is that our guests leave feeling that they’ve had a true Oregon wine country experience! 

 

 

How Do You Know What You Like?

November 21st, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

Many guests to our tasting room plead ignorance regarding their ability to describe what they are tasting and what they like in a wine. They are somewhat shy about expressing their opinion because they are afraid of saying the wrong thing.

I like to suggest to guests that they start out with the simple “yum” or “yuk” approach. The first and most important thing is whether you like it or not. If not, then your evaluation can simply stop there. If your initial reaction is “yum”, then you may also stop there.  And if you do want to describe what you believe it tastes like or why you like it, it is best to use your own words and descriptions. It is not necessary to use pontifications such as those used by wine critics.

Describing it in your own terms will help you better remember the wine and understand why you like one wine and not another.

Having said that, there is one good reason to have a better understanding of what characteristics you like in a wine and be able to express them. When in a restaurant or a wine retailer, you may be shopping for a wine or ordering from a list of wines you are unfamiliar with. In those situations, there will likely be someone to help you make a selection. But how can he help if he does not know what you like in a wine? That is where it is beneficial to be able to explain the characteristics you like, in your own words.  It will be easier for you to explain and easier to be understood.  And if you’re in a restaurant and are not sure what you like, be adventurous!

 

 

How Does This Wine Season Compare?

October 21st, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

As farmers/grape growers we sometimes find ourselves complaining about any weather conditions that are not ideal, but a few days of bad weather does not a vintage make.  Generally a cooler season is the most favorable, but a hotter year does not necessarily result in California style wines.  Our “hot” does not compare with what California considers hot.  As a result, I don’t suspect anyone will be producing “fruit bombs” this season, even though we had less than average rainfall and higher temperatures. Remember 2006? That was a hotter year, yet it produced bigger, more alcoholic wines. I see 2012 to be a comfortable blend of the 2006 and 2008 vintages. From what I’ve seen, most fruit coming in is not reflecting high alcohol due to high sugar levels. The end of September and October have been sunny and cooler, which have slowed sugars and aided in flavor development.

Low precipitation can be countered with irrigation, but we can still allow the characteristics of the fruit to come through.  If the season is a drier one, then let that be reflected in the wine produced. It does not mean the wine will be of any less quality. It only means that it may not be the ideally balanced wine we would all love to produce each year.

 

 

Harvest!

October 20th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

This is always an exciting time in wine country. It is also an anxious time.  There is the excitement of the plump grapes coming into the winery to begin their evolution to wine, but also the anxiousness of all that goes on during harvest to get the fruit safely into the winery in a timely manner.

When to pick? We are monitoring the sugar level, pH, total acidity, seed ripening, lignification of the stems, and flavor development. We continue to monitor the weather patterns, the vitality of the vines, and the timing of the astrological signs (biodynamic timing).

So, here we are, at 23 to 24 brix (percent by volume sugar content), 3.4 pH, 7 TA (titratable acidity), good brown seeds, brown stems, flavors coming in fully, and the stars in perfect alignment.

We will pick the fruit between 7:00 and 11:00 in the morning to get the fruit in the winery cool and give us the rest of the day (and night if needed) to de-stem the Pinot Noir grapes and get them into fermentation tanks to cold stabilize before fermentation begins. The Pinot Gris will be picked, taken to the winery, and immediately be pressed off the skins and put into stainless steel tanks to begin fermenting.

The weather has been great this fall with moderate temperatures and sunshine, much like 2008. The fruit has held up very well. The birds have not found the fruit yet.  And the fruit is ripening much more timely than the last couple of years.  Things are looking promising for a very fine vintage.