Posts Tagged ‘Yamhill Valley’

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.

 

 

BABY FRUIT

August 17th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

Oregon’s 2012 fruit set is now complete in and we have our first idea of what our crop might be like when it comes time to harvest. The size and shape of the newly formed clusters suggests more even ripening and cleaner fruit than last season. A looser cluster, which we’re currently seeing, allows air to flow through, keeping the fruit cleaner.

What else is going on in the vineyard? Removing leaves on the east side of the fruit zone. Shoot positioning. Raising catch wires. Hedging. Making a second pass with the in-row cultivator. And mowing.

The vines are now slowing down vegetal growth and focusing more of their energy on the fruit itself. The next month will see the growth of little green BB’s, which will bloom into full-sized grapes prior to ripening.

Mother Nature is right on schedule!

 

 

Tasting Room

July 28th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

Summer is here, the wines are lip-smacking great, and we now have an expansive new deck to enjoy our wines, the views, and acoustical music on Thursday from 5:30 to 8:00. The tasting room is open from 11 to 5 every day, and we continue to see new people every day.  Being a little further south than most tasting rooms in the Willamette Valley, we offer a relaxed atmosphere where you will be treated to a tasting by the winemaker himself.  Wayne loves to share stories and information about the wines that add another dimension to the tasting, and if you want to be seated out on the deck and enjoy the views, he will be happy to pour outside.

We continue to welcome guests from all over the world, as well as Boston, Washington DC, New York, Minneapolis, Colorado, Atlanta and others.  We love to hear stories of how our guests first discovered Oregon Pinot Noir, and why they wanted to come to Oregon to taste it in person. They are typically well-traveled and have been to many other wine regions of the world, but find something special in a glass of Pinot Noir from our beloved region.

Our tasting guests enjoy learning more about the growing of the grapes, wine making, and all that goes on at Youngberg Hill.  They often request vineyard tours or a barrel tasting to learn more about their favorite wine. We enjoy educating them on everything from geology of the valley, to fruit thinning, to fermentation.  Getting the back story enriches the whole experience.

As things heat up, our cool crisp whites are a nice addition to the flight of wines you will enjoy on the Hill.  So come join us on the deck, watch the busy birds, the not-so-busy cows, and the beautiful backdrop of mountains as you sip the wines and savor the afternoon.

 

 

Wedding Fun!

July 7th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

Oregon Bride Magazine  recently voted Youngberg Hill as the Best All-Inclusive Venue and Best Oregon Destination Wedding Site Statewide for 2012.  We have been honored and humbled to win such recognition in an industry where family-owned locations don’t always garner as much attention as the large corporate venues.  We have been doing weddings at Youngberg Hill for the past eight years and enjoy being part of a couple’s “new beginnings”.  While the images of the bride and the vineyard countryside will take your breath away, it’s our goal to otherwise have everyone breathing easier during a wedding at Youngberg Hill.

There are many components to a successful wedding, and finding the right location is key.  Our spectacular 360 view, the vineyard backdrop and complete outdoor venue all come together to make Youngberg Hill a stunning setting for the perfect wedding.

Like a lot of weddings, those on the Hill have their share of unexpected moments – from the flower girls and ring bearers that make everyone laugh; to the mother-of-the-bride who was asked to hold a glass of wine for a unity ceremony but drank it instead; to an NBA cheerleader’s breakout dance performance!  Other moments, though expected, still draw the emotions to the surface – such as the look of happiness in the faces the newly married couple.  Very few things can top that!

To all of you who voted for us, thank you so much.  It means a lot to us to know that we are a part of so many brides’ happy memories of their special day.  Here’s to love!

 

 

IPNC (International Pinot Noir Celebration)

June 30th, 2012 by Nicolette Bailey

The IPNC, located in McMinnville Oregon, is now in its 26th year as one of the world’s premier events focused solely on Pinot Noirs.  It is a rare opportunity to taste some of the best Pinot Noirs from around the world, side by side, paired with specifically chosen food, and centered around educational sessions to learn more about what makes Pinot Noir special.

While the focus of the event was originally Oregon Pinot Noir (as is Oregon Pinot Camp today, or OPC, held in mid-June each year), it quickly expanded to include Pinot Noir from Burgundy, Australia, New Zealand, California, Germany, Austria, and Canada. To have the opportunity to taste Pinot Noir from these very different regions of the world and compare them to each other is a rare experience.

Rarer still is the gathering of winemakers from these regions, as they discuss the challenges in their particular growing area and what makes their terroir distinctive.

IPNC always runs the last weekend in July and promises to be even more highly attended than in the past.

We are looking forward to running into old friends who share our passion for the grape, and welcoming new vintners into the fold.  The guest speakers are well chosen and the group will benefit from their expertise.  But mostly the IPNC is about celebration – a celebration of Pinot Noir and the beauty of the wines produced from this special grape.