Posts Tagged ‘Youngberg Hill Wine’

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!



Pinot Noir=Oregon

January 20th, 2013 by Nicolette Bailey

oregon=pn2There continues to be a lot of discussion in the industry regarding the perception of Oregon wines, the relationship with Pinot Noir, and how to best market. I think the relationship is reciprocal. What do I mean by that?

Oregon (in particular the Willamette Valley) is a great place to grow Pinot Noir. We are producing Pinot Noir that rivals any produced anywhere in the world. We continue to gain accolades such as those published in the latest Wine Spectator. Therefore, Pinot Noir = Oregon.

Oregon is also growing other varietals and producing some very fine wines, however, Pinot Noir is what has put Oregon on the map as being a viable wine producing state and over 50% of Oregon wine production is Pinot Noir. Therefore, I say Oregon = Pinot Noir.

So from a marketing perspective, Oregon should put its best foot (product) forward by promoting Oregon Pinot Noir across the world, differentiating Oregon Pinot Noir from others produced around the world by our unique growing conditions, soils, quality, and sustainability. The more we do that, the more awareness there will be, the more wine sold, the more tourism, and the more non-Pinot Noir wines will be recognized. Let’s not be another California.


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?



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: .  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: .  What’s most important is that our guests leave feeling that they’ve had a true Oregon wine country experience!