Posts Tagged ‘Yamhill Valley’

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!

 

 

A Thankful Winemaker

November 3rd, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

This time of year on Youngberg Hill is always one of reflection and gratitude.  This past growing season was truly a blessing – an early spring, warm temperatures, no mildew pressure, good September and October days of sunshine and cooler breezes.  We now have the grapes in the winery safe and sound. The fruit came in clean, healthy, and without much sorting necessary. As the wine begins to develop in the fermentation tank, the aromas stir the mind and recall the balmy afternoons and cool nights in August and September. The bright fruit characteristics remind me of the early spring sunshine and sporadic light showers intermixed with rainbows.

In the tasting room, we are presently putting final touches on tasting notes for the release of the 2009 Jordan Pinot Noir and reflect back on the 2009 season. It was a warmer spring and summer, but cooled off in September and October. The grapes ripened easily and in their own time, and weather cooperated. In the winery, the fruit went through fermentation with amazing vitality. Coming out of the tank and into the barrel, we were amazed at how appealing and approachable the wine was at that early stage. And now tasting three years later, it brings back those memories as if it were yesterday.

We are also thankful of course to all of our friends and neighbors who helped us bring in the fruit this year.  Everyone worked so tirelessly and carefully – it touched our hearts, and we look forward to seeing you all again.  But we insist that next time you come to Youngberg Hill, you relax and sip some vino!

 

 

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.

 

 

On The Day You Were Born

October 6th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

On the day you were born the sun was shining.  You were not alone and you felt strong.  As you grew, life was fun and easy, without a care in the world.  You had everything you needed to grow and flourish.  You had many friends and close family around you and your life seemed happy.  Then things started to change.  You witnessed many changes in yourself and in those around you.  You felt less strong and more vulnerable.  There were many dangers along the way and sometimes simple luck determined survival.  Some of your friends were sheltered, supported, and made it through the storms, while others had none and vanished from sight.  There were times when the sun didn’t shine and the wind blew cold.  You witnessed disease and death, and you watched those around you – your friends and family – perish and you wondered “how will I survive?” but somehow you did.  You grew up beautifully and many envied you for this.  Somewhere towards the end you looked around at your world and didn’t know if you truly mattered.  Was it all in vain?  Was your life worth the struggle?  Then you saw that you were never alone.  You were part of a whole and connected to everything else.  In the end you knew that you did matter, and that you were exactly who you needed to be, not just for you but for the world around you.

Then your life was over.  Your body was cared for with loving hands.   The people who cared for you knew they had a responsibility to honor your beautiful life.  After a few years went by a glass was raised high and you were appreciated for everything you were and had become.  Your life was toasted by those that pondered the same way you did at life and wanted the same things you were searching for.  In the end, you were loved.

The life of a single grape.  The life of you.

 

 

Coming of Harvest

September 22nd, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

It’s beginning to look a lot like harvest, everywhere you go.

The air is crisper. The leaves in the trees are turning color. The grapes have changed color. Now it’s a waiting game, and fervent hoping that the good weather continues. We have had great weather for the most part this year with the timing of bud break, bloom and veraison, and heat units are tracking very similarly to 2008. The optimal weather in October was the pinnacle of a great 2008 harvest, and so far everything is in alignment to repeat that good fortune this year. The weather looks great for the rest of September – maybe a little warmer than normal, which will ripen the grapes a little faster – and we’re crossing our fingers for next month.

We will most likely harvest our young block of grapes from the Camelot block sometime in the first week of October. They are at about 20 brix (20% sugar) right now and typically increase by about 1.5 brix per week when the weather is good – sunny and dry. Our target is 23 brix. The pinot gris in the Aspen block will most likely be ready 10 days later, followed by the Natasha and Jordan blocks respectively.

Besides sugar content of the grapes, we are also looking at pH and total acidity to determine their readiness. We are also evaluating the maturity of the grapes; how liquid the pupl of the fruit is, how brown the seeds are, and how the flavors are coming in.

Stay tuned!

 

 

Oregon Sustainability

September 15th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

We Oregonians take pride in our efforts (and results) in protecting and preserving the environment. We believe there are alternative ways to doing things that will have less negative impact on the delicate balance of nature. The wine industry, because of our dependence on that balance of nature, is a leader in taking action and creating awareness around this important issue.

Most of us in the wine industry who farm organically, sustainably, and biodynamically do so because we believe it is necessary to protect the environment, improve the health of the land and the vineyards, and to sustain the balance of nature. Many of us also believe that it improves the health and the quality of the fruit we harvest, allowing us to make better wine.

We do not practice these methods as a marketing ploy.  In fact, market research suggests that the general wine consumer does not reward wineries by buying those wines farmed and produced sustainably over others.  We take this path because it is the right thing to do.

Then why is important to identify our farming practices with certification logos on our labels and in our marketing? Because we feel it is important to continue to raise the awareness level of our environmental impact, and ways in which we can reduce it.  That is why we have not only organic certification, but also salmon safe certification, low impact viticultural certification, Oregon Sustainable certification, and so on.

We are proud of the small role we play in preserving our planet!

 

 

Team Lucy to Dominate Carlton Crush

September 8th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

The stomp team proudly representing Youngberg Hill is training with daily climbs up the vineyard slopes, readying for the Carlton Crush! They have been training since the main “Lucy Event” back in May, which included the Lucy Look-alike Contest. From that we culled our four Lucy beauties, ready to take on all comers in the first annual Carlton Crush stomping competition. While the practice of crushing the grapes is typically not done with bare feet here in the New World, the idea has us all flash back to one of the most popular Lucy episodes. In fact, in Oregon, and especially concerning the Pinot Noir grape, the concept of crush applies more to the time of year and harvest than it does to what actually happens to the grapes. Because Pinot Noir skins are thin and fragile, we take great care in keeping the grapes whole and not bruising the skins prior to fermentation. Therefore, the idea of crushing Pinot Noir grapes makes most of us winemakers cringe. But harvest, otherwise known as crush, is a great time of celebration, and Carlton Crush is one of many celebrations that will take place during the month of September. We will also be hosting our annual harvest dinner on September 29th up on The Hill to celebrate the season’s harvest, to share the bounty with guests and neighbors, and to thank those that helped all season long. So whether you enjoy wine, beautiful weather, fun and games, or are just looking for something different to do, come out to Carlton and watch as Team Lucy begins its reign as the #1 stomp team at the Carlton Crush!

It’s All About the Weather

September 2nd, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

As farmers of wine grapes, like most other farmers, our main topic of discussion is, more often than not, the weather. Fortunately, the weather in the Willamette Valley this year has been more cooperative  than in most of the country. Coming from the Midwest, we know what hot, dry weather can do to crops, and we sympathize with our fellow farmers who are currently experiencing drought conditions there.

We are getting a little heat ourselves right now, and this summer was slated is to be about 5 degrees above normal.  This type of weather and humidity levels are conducive to  grape growing in the valley. It was an earlier, warmer spring and the weather during bud break, bloom, and fruit set was favorable.  Humidity has been low, so mildew pressure has been less problematic.

So, what does it mean for this year’s vintage?  It’s too early to determine.  There are still two and a half months of growing season AND weather that could either destroy the crop or make it the best vintage ever. Not to mention other natural influences like birds, that love to pick the grapes before we do!

The grapes will begin “veraison” in the next couple of weeks, which is the beginning of the ripening process when the grapes turn color. September is when we hope for sunny, mild weather to ripen the fruit.  Too much sunshine and heat will result in higher sugars, bigger fruit, and potential raisoning. Not enough of these, and we may have to intervene to get suitable fruit.

But Mother Nature is in charge now, and we are patient and watchful, and optimistic.