Posts Tagged ‘Youngberg Hill Wine’

What Makes Some Wine Have Higher Alcohol Content Than Others?

November 4th, 2014 by Rachel

Wine grapesYou may have noticed that wine alcohol levels have slowly inched up over the years. While it was hard to find a wine that naturally reached 14% alcohol by volume 35 years ago, it’s pretty common now. This high alcohol content has been attributed to the changing palate of the modern drinker as well as to climate change.

The modern wine connoisseur (that’s you!) tends to want softer tannins and lower acidity. Translation: we want something immediately drinkable. While many people buy a bottle, take it home and drink it, very few have wine cellars where they can let the tannins in their delicious beverages mellow and age to perfection.

This means winemakers like Wayne can allow the grapes a little more hang time to collect some extra sunlight and sugar before harvest. Another advantage to allowing grapes to ripen more fully before the wine is created is there is a lower acidity to the wine. The intention of the harvest is to hit the sweet spot where the perfect amount of sugar intersects with the right amount of acid. In Oregon wine country, we also have to consider weather conditions. While we have had a bit of an Indian summer this year, there have been early cold spells in previous years, where the grapes had to be harvested just before the weather turned.

The ripeness of grapes when harvested, as well as any overripe grapes that sneak into a harvest can affect the overall alcohol content of the wine. As we have stated in previous articles, we hand harvest to ensure only the best grapes are used to create your wine. This means you don’t get grapes in your Youngberg Hill wine that we didn’t intend to use.

Once the fruit is harvested, the fermentation process eats up all those sugars and creates alcohol. Pinot Noir is naturally in the higher alcohol range – around 12-14% alcohol by volume on average. You can expect a much higher alcohol by volume in dessert wines like sherry or port.

Do you like the lower acidity and higher alcohol volume trend in wine? Let us know by commenting below.

What is the Best Harvesting Method?

September 16th, 2014 by Rachel

Sept Blog 3 - Pic 1When it comes to our land, we always go for the most organic, sustainable and holistic  method here at Youngberg Hill.  This is because we believe the method that works for Mother Nature is the method that will work best for our wine.  Our wine philosophy extends to using the best harvesting method for our grapes.

 

That said, there are two basic ways to harvest grapes.  One is by hand and one is by machine.  Of course, a winery may choose to include some machines into processes before or after the harvest – like a destemmer or a tractor.  But the harvest itself can be done either by hand or by machine.  We will consider these two methods:

Mechanical Harvesting

One of the greatest advantages of mechanical harvesting – and why many large winemakers choose this type of harvesting – is speed.  Just as is the case in making manufacturing pretty much anything, when you add machines, things go faster.  This means a large, corporate winemaker might be tempted by mechanical harvesting to save money.

Another reason why speed is important to these large grape growers is  they don’t want their grapes to become overripe.  This can create bad wine that needs a lot of extra additives to make it palatable.

Hand Harvesting  

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Harvesting grapes by hand has a major advantage over mechanical harvesting.  That is: quality of fruit.

Hand harvested grapes are more precisely what we want in our wine.  This is because the person harvesting the grapes can consider what  they are harvesting as they go.  There is another process later, during winemaking, during which people are able to go through the harvest again and pick out any unwanted grapes, stems, leaves, etc.  But the hand harvest is the first line of defense against bad bunches.

This extra sorting power may not seem like it makes a big difference in the quality of wine produced, but it actually does.  Not only are there more eyes on the grapes that do go in  to your wine, many substandard grapes (unripe grapes or raisins) can be removed before they get to the crusher.  When you consider that it takes about 30  vines of grapes to make one barrel of wine – you see where the difference comes in.   Say there were 5 raisins and 10 unripe grapes, plus one leaf per cluster.  That’s about 200 raisins and 400 unripe grapes – plus 40 leaves that hand harvesting removed from that barrel of wine.

Another reason behind our hand harvesting preference is that Pinot Noir is a delicate fruit.  The process of machine harvesting punctures the fruit slightly, so in order to maintain a full cluster of intact grapes, we have to hand harvest.

Hand harvesting is one of the many ways we stay true to our grapes and the land which produced them.  Come taste the difference!

 

Fall Foods and Perfect Pairings

September 9th, 2014 by Rachel

When Autumn arrives, we often turn our thoughts to comfort and warmth. With the harvest season, we also turn our thoughts to sumptuous meals and comfort food. Here are recipes with Fall foods and perfect pairings that promise to delight:

Oregon’s wine country is world renowned for Pinot Noir, a light to medium-bodied, food friendly red wine with red berry and cherry flavors. Come to our tasting room at Youngberg Hill Inn and try ours!

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What pairs perfectly with Pinot Noir? Local Golden Chanterelles. When prepared, Chanterelles have a delicious, buttery chicken flavor with fruit notes of apricot and a mild peppery taste. How about a smooth, golden, pureed Wild Mushroom Soup?

Try this recipe here.

 

Or try a few of of these recipes for a celebrated meal that your family and friends will love.

At Youngberg Hill we make a very fine Pinot Gris. With ours, you’ll find bright fruit aromatics range from grapefruit, mango, to apricot, leading to a flavor palate of lemon, grapefruit, apricot and tropical fruit. Its texture gives way to a wonderfully smooth and round finish that is easy to drink sitting out on the front deck. With a little higher acidity, it is very crisp with a soft, clean finish.

For the perfect complement, try this delectable dish. It is sure to be a crowd pleaser. You can also try these great recipes. They are positively divine.

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Lasagna with Fall Vegetables, Gruyere and Sage Bechamel 

Fall vegetables such as spinach, onions, and sweet potatoes combined with portobello mushrooms, herbs, parmesan, French gruyere, and exquisite sage bechamel for a savory and aromatic treat for the senses.

You can add or substitute parsnip, butternut squash, and pumpkin.

Now that’s what I call a perfect pairing!

 

Rare Pinot Blanc features fruit notes of apples and pears. Ours is wildly popular and often sells out. Pinot Blanc pairs well with chicken, lemon, custards, and white, soft cheeses such as brie and French gruyere.

Pinot Blanc’s light fruit compliments this Autumn Quiche perfectly. Sept Blog 2 Pic 3

The recipe makes use of a few fall harvest staples that are abundantly available: butternut squash, kale, thyme, and onion. You could also add zucchini, acorn squash and white mini pumpkin as well.

This recipe calls for a smoked gouda cheese. Yum!

As you can see, there are many great fall recipes that compliment our wines winningly.

We’ve shared just a few of our favorites with you, and we are positive you will enjoy our wines with them. Come visit our tasting room today and bring a bottle home with you.

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All About the Crush

August 19th, 2014 by Rachel

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The harvest season is often referred to as “The Crush,” taking its name from a very important step in the winemaking process. Though foot-stomping instantly comes to mind, there is a lot more to the crush than that.

Harvesting begins once the grapes reach peak ripeness. Knowing when to harvest is not an exact science, but it usually occurs with summer turns to fall. Each grape cluster is then carefully sorted to ensure only the best fruit goes into the wine.

 

 

That’s when the crushing begins. The purpose of this stage is to break open the skins, exposing the juice and pulp. The grapes’ seeds and stems aren’t crushed because they contain the very important tannins. Not only do tannins contribute to the texture of the wine, but they are invaluable to the color and bitterness of it as well. The sooner the stems are removed in the crushing process, the less tannic a wine will be. Sometimes the stems aren’t removed until right before fermentation and pressing, which is why red wines tend to be more bitter than their white counterparts.

The crush is a very symbolic portion of the harvest season, and of winemaking in general. In fact, there are many festivals celebrating it, including the local Carlton Crush next month. These festivals are family-friendly and delight in one of our area’s greatest traditions. And, of course, there’s a lot of foot-stomping!

 

Reasons You Must Visit the Oregon Wine Country

August 5th, 2014 by Rachel

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The Yamhill Valley is in the heart of the Oregon Wine Country. It’s filled with a rich history, compassion and great wine, of course. It is a huge part of our area’s economic, agricultural and social landscape.

 

 

 

  • Oregon Pinot Noir is famous, and rightfully so! In the 1960s and 70s, a group of wine entrepreneurs settled in the Yamhill Valley with pinot grapes on their minds. Two of those winemakers championed setting aside a significant part of the area for vineyards. This partnership with the state of Oregon has led to over four decades of agricultural and economic success in the area, not to mention amazing Pinot Noir!
  • In Oregon, wine means more than just the bottom line, there is a lot of care and dedication taken into providing the best product the right way.

Aug Blog 1- Pic 2In 1991, 18 wine producers started ¡Salud!, a charity committed to providing comprehensive health care for migrant workers at the vineyards. It was the first organization of its kind in the entire country.

  • When you visit the Oregon Wine Country, you’ll see how much pride is involved in what we do here. It is such a big part of our community that there are now multiple exhibits and archives keeping our rich history alive.
  • Aug Blog 1- Pic 3In 2011, Linfield College started the Oregon Wine History Archive, preserving the stories of our pivotal industry.
    • This year, the Oregon Historical Society established a temporary exhibit full of interactive displays and a tasting room. Clink! will be available through September 20.

 

For more information on the history of the Oregon Wine Country, we recommend this article from the Oregonian.

 

 

 

Youngberg Hill Vineyard and Inn

July 29th, 2014 by Rachel

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Founded in 1989, Youngberg Hill Vineyard and Inn has become a staple of the Yamhill Valley and McMinnville Winegrowers Association. We focus on premium Oregon Pinot Noirs and excellent service for all our guests.

 

The Vineyard

The vineyards at Youngberg Hill lie in the coastal foothills of Yamhill Valley, just 25 miles away from the coast. The unique location has given us rich and diverse soil to grow amazing Pinot grapes for the past 25 years. Our first two Pinot Noir blocks in the vineyard were planted in 1989, followed by our one block of Pinot Gris in 2006 and our third Pinot Noir crop in 2008.

We are on a mission to practice organic and sustainable farming at Youngberg Hill. In 2010 we were certified “Sustainable” by the Oregon Wine Board, after gaining certifications from other third party organizations. In an effort to leave the earth healthier than how we found it, we only employ soft pesticides, such as biodegradable soaps and oils, on our vines. The caution and care shown to the plants is evident in the quality of Youngberg Hill wines.

Youngberg Hill, McMinnville, Willamette Valley, OregonThe Inn

With views from the deck overlooking the Coast Range, Mount Jefferson, Mount Hood, and of course the vineyards, the Youngberg Hill Inn offers a chance for a breathtaking getaway. Whether you stay in one of the five king suites or three queen guestrooms, you’re guaranteed to feel comfortable and pampered. In the mornings you can treat yourself to a gourmet breakfast or relax in the first floor library or salon. In the evening there are complimentary wine tastings where you can enjoy a famous Oregon Pinot Noir out on our deck.

Whether you come for a tasting or an overnight stay, Youngberg Hill’s goal is to provide high-quality service for a relaxing and satisfying visit.

Have you stayed with us before? Let us know about your experience in the comments!

Book your stay today!

How Does Grafting Wine Grapes Work?

July 1st, 2014 by Rachel

July Blog 1 - Pic 1Many wine grapes in the US are grafted on – meaning the root of the grape plant isn’t the exact same strain as the top of the plant.  This is often a way of strengthening delicate grape types by giving it a hardier or more pest resistant root system.

Grafting wine grapes can also be used by winemakers to replace existing grapes with a new type.  So, if a winery wanted to grow Chardonnay where they were growing Pinot Noir, they would only have to graft Chardonnay grapes onto the existing roots.  This means a winery can begin producing the new grapes much more swiftly than if they had dug up their previous grapes and planted a whole new grape plant.

Why do Many Wineries Graft?

The majority of wine grapes you hear about are grafted onto rootstock due to an American pest. Back before we had officials to check whether certain plants carried disease or bugs that the ecosystem of other countries can’t handle, American vines were important to England and Europe.

Unfortunately, these vines came with a little pest that attack grapes.  The wine grapes in these areas had no natural resistance to the pest – so wine production was almost halted in Europe for a time. After the pest was discovered, winemakers developed a work-around.  They grafted their grapes to American rootstock, which has a resistance to the pests.

The practice of grafting in order to improve a grape varieties’ chance of survival continues to this day.

How to Graft

The process of grafting is pretty simple, but requires a lot of skill and expertise. Basically:

1. The root onto which the plant will be grafted is planted and allowed to establish itself.

2. Any trunks growing from the root are cut down to the ground at a spot which is approximately the same size as the trunk of the plant to be grafted.

3. A cut is made both in the trunk and the plant which is to be grafted on.  The plant and trunk are notched together.

4. They are then tied together with a material to keep the graft in place.

5. Soil is used as an additional support and as a moist surface which will help the plant heal more swiftly.

In the end, you have the varietal you want to grow attached to a root which will give it the protection and nutrients it needs to produce fantastic wine.  We can all raise a glass to that!

 

Do You Have to Let Your Wine Breathe?

June 17th, 2014 by Rachel

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Most of us opening a bottle of wine want to drink it right away.

 

Our faces might look like those of Marshall and Lily in “How I Met Your Mother” when they are told they have to wait 30 minutes to let their wine breathe.

 

 

So, the real question is – do you have to let your wine breathe?

First of all, it’s always up to your taste.  If you open a bottle, pour the wine into a glass and decide “Hey, this is delicious” then don’t let us stop you.  It’s that famous “yuck or yum” factor Wayne always talks about.

But, if you’re wondering why you’d let a wine breathe and how this action will affect taste, read on.

“Letting your wine breathe” is a pretty simple process.  The idea is that, a young red wine or even a mature red wine need to be mixed with air for a short period of time (meaning about 1-2 hours for a young wine and around 30 mins for a mature wine) in order to allow the wine to achieve its full aromatic and flavor potential.  Note that very old wine, whites, or champagne don’t need to breathe.  They can be drunk right away.

A common mistake made in letting your wine breathe is simply popping the cork and letting the wine bottle sit out for a while.  This doesn’t actually let the air mix in with much wine at all.  Your best option is decanting the wine in a decanter.  But you don’t have to get that complicated.  You can simply pour your wine into your glass, swirl it around, and then let it sit for a short period of time.

Finally – don’t let your wine sit too long.  If you’re planning on drinking one bottle over an entire evening, it may be a good idea to simply decant by the glass.  You don’t want your wine to turn vinegary.

As with everything in the wine world, letting your wine breathe is a choice that you should make only if it’s something that improves the taste of your wine to your palate.  It’s all about the yuck and yum.  Enjoy your wine in the way that tastes best to you!

 

 

 

 

The Elements of a Great Harvest

June 3rd, 2014 by Rachel

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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.

 

Why Attend a Winemaker Dinner?

May 13th, 2014 by Rachel

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One of our favorite events here at Youngberg Hill is our winemaker dinners.  Why attend a winemaker dinner? This is where we invite guests up to our vineyard for food and wines paired in perfect harmony.  But the amazing food and wine is not the main reason we love this event.  Our greatest joy is sharing stories and knowledge with our guests.

Larger or corporate wineries may claim that a “winemaker dinner” is a simple pairing while someone speaks to you about their wines.  This is not the dinner party we throw.  Ours is a close-knit affair.  Wayne and/or Nicolette are right there, eating with you, answering questions about wine, their wine-making philosophy, sharing stories, and having discussions.

The conversation and exchange of stories and ideas is the real point of a winemaker dinner.  With new friendships forming and old friendships re-forging, it’s no wonder that food can become a secondary aspect of such a dinner.  That said, we could write lengthy articles dedicated to the food alone.  Here’s just one example – the menu from our Spring winemaker dinner:

We began with a glass of Champagne and olive and onion tarts as the hors d’oeuvres. After meeting everyone who came, we moved on to the first course: grilled shrimp and creamy polenta paired with our 2013 Pinot Gris. The next course was a spring salad with strawberries and cheese paired with the 2011 Cuvee.  After that, the herbed rack of lamb with a Pinot demi-glace, asparagus, and black potatoes paired with the 2011 Jordan filled everyone up.  With so many courses, we were able to take time to enjoy the food and our guests could ask questions and share stories.  Good conversation always follows great wine, and this dinner was no exception.  The meal was topped off with bread pudding with Pendleton sauce and Pinot Port.

With intimate dinners like this one, we are able to make new friends and impart a deeper understanding of wine to our guests.  Youngberg Hill is a family owned and operated winery and we hope to make guests feel like family.  Come dine, drink, and laugh with us at our next winemaker dinner on June 7th.  We look forward to hearing from you.