Posts Tagged ‘Youngberg Hill’

November Wine Touring in the Willamette Valley

November 16th, 2015 by Nicolette Bailey

Is thGregor Halenda Travel Oregon Jessis a good time to go wine touring in Oregon?  November wine touring in the Willamette Valley is a great time to taste Pinot Noirs. There are over 300 tasting rooms throughout the valley, and most all of them are open through the Thanksgiving weekend. Additionally, most of us in the valley are releasing new wines, having pick-up parties, wine club events, and winemaker dinners throughout the months of November and December. It is a great time to be out in wine country, celebrating the bountiful harvest.

With the holidays approaching, it is a great time to stock up on your party wines and dinner wines for the festive season. Many wineries offer wine specials during this time of year.

When you’re traveling through Oregon’s Wine Country, the restaurants in the area offer great dining experiences. Which dining experience is best for you? Ask around and be prepared to have a lot of options. To make your wine tasting tours easier there are several touring businesses to drive you from tasting room to tasting room. Most also offer dinner service, which is a ride to and from dinner.Fall vineard

It used to be that the “season” for tasting in Willamette Valley wine country was from Memorial Weekend until Thanksgiving. Today the “season” is all year long as many wineries are open for tasting, restaurants are open for lunch and dinner, and warm and cozy B&Bs are open to with nice fireplaces to cuddle up and enjoy that bottle of Oregon Pinot. Even after the holidays, there are plenty of places to go, wines to taste, and places to stay and eat. In January, the Oregon Truffle Festival takes place. In February, there are many Valentine events. And as March rolls around, white wines for spring and summer begin to be released.

There is never a “closed” time in the Willamette Valley.

Bottling 2014 Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley

November 2nd, 2015 by Nicolette Bailey

IMG_1059When do we bottle Pinot Noir in Willamette Valley? It’s about this time of year when Oregon Wineries move the previous year’s harvest from barrels to bottles. This is a great time to revisit last year’s harvest, and explore this wine after it’s spent some time in the barrel. 2014 was a rare year for Oregon Pinot Noir. Across the board, Willamette Valley vineyards harvested not only a large quantity of fruit, but more importantly the harvested fruit was of a high quality. All too often one is sacrificed for the benefit of the other, but not in 2014. That year began with an early spring that continued into warmer than normal weather throughout the growing season. This combination brought in a harvest two to three weeks earlier than normal, a time of year that saw very little precipitation. Often times, late in the growing season, vineyards are at the mercy of the weather, hoping for enough dry days to pick ripe fruit. As a combined result, the 2014 wines in barrel are showing ripe, voluptuous body and weight.

Bottling Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley typically takes place right before harvest in late August and September. The machines used to bottle wine are large, and require specially trained operators. Because of this, a lot of smaller wineries hire a mobile botting unit. When it is time for bottling the mobile unit is pulled to the winery.DSCN1218

Once bottled, the wine is left to age in bottle for at least another 6 months before release. However, Youngberg Hill typically release our Pinot Noirs 2 years after the fruit was harvested, so don’t expect to see these wines before November of 2016. At Youngberg Hill, our Pinot Noirs are bigger and bolder than most of the other wines produced in the valley. Because of this, we give them more time in the barrel. We normally keep our Pinot Noir in barrel for at least 12 months or more. With the 2014 vintage being special, we will hold the wine in our French White Oak barrels for 14 months. This additional time in the barrel will impart more of the oak flavor, complementing the bigger fruit flavor of the 2014 harvest. We believe this will ultimately create a superb and well balanced Pinot Noir.


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Making White Wines in The Willamette Valley

October 19th, 2015 by Nicolette Bailey

IMG_2086What is the difference between making white wines or red wines in the Willamette Valley? The main difference is that rather than leaving the juice from the grape on the skins after destemming, whites wines typically are not destemmed and the grapes juice is immediately pressed off the skins, stems, and seeds. Second, while red wine is fermented over a 12 to 14 day period at warm temperatures (75 to 80 degrees), white wines are typically fermented over a longer period, 30 plus days, at cooler temperatures around 60 degrees. Red wines are also typically fermented to dry meaning all the sugar has been converted to alcohol. With white wines, that could vary significantly from a very sweet wine (stopping fermentation before the sugar is all converted) all the way to bone dry (no residual sugar).

Depending on the varietal, white wines may go directly from stainless steel tanks to bottle within four months or go into barrel for several months before bottling. For example, our Pinot Gris goes directly from tank to bottle and is released about six months after harvest. Our Pinot Blanc goes into neutral oak barrels for a couple of months just to allow the wine to age a little more. Our Chardonnay is put in once used barrels for six to eight months to provide some slight oak character while retaining all the fruit profile. They process isn’t done just in the Willamette Valley but are standard practices in the wine industry.

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Making Pinot Noir in The Willamette Valley

October 6th, 2015 by Nicolette Bailey

DSC_6902Many of us who make Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley either learned our wine-making trade in Burgundy or aspire to make wines in a manner similar to Burgundy. What does that mean? It means using a light touch in the winery to let the wine reflect where the fruit was grown and what weather the fruit was grown in. This philosophy creates wines that will be very different across the valley and vary significantly from year to year.

How is this done? We do this by doing as little as possible in the winery to change the natural characteristics coming from the fruit. An example of that is “crush”. While we all envision Lucy stomping on the grapes in that classic TV episode and in some regions with some varietals, we take great care in not “crushing the grapes before going into fermentation. Because Pinot Noir is a feminine grape with thin skins, it is important not to bruise the fruit, which will change the characteristics of the wine. We also take care not to make any adjustments to the wine like adding acid if it is a low acid year, adding sugar if it is a low sugar year, or adding water if it is a high sugar year. We use the saying “It is what it is”.

I often use the analogy of raising children to wine-making. If you try to make a rocket scientist out of a child with innate skills as a concert pianist, he probably wouldn’t be as good a rocket scientist as he would be a concert pianist. In the same way, if one tries to manipulate the wine to taste a certain way, it is most likely not going to be as good a wine as if it is left to reflect the fruit it is made from.

Finally, the wine will go into barrel, typically French white oak for our Pinot Noirs) for anywhere from 14 to 24 months depending on the vintage and the fruit. After barreling, we will bottle and hold for several months before releasing typically  two years from the time it was harvested.

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The History of Pinot Noir and Why it is THE Willamette Valley Grape

September 22nd, 2015 by Rachel

Pinot NoirPinot Noir is one of the earliest varieties of grape cultivated and used for making wine. Pinot has been grown in the “Slope of Gold” in Burgundy, France for many hundreds of years. There are many factors that make Burgundy an amazing place to grow Pinot Noir. These include:

  • Gentle sloping hills
  • Longer spring and fall seasons
  • Soil that drains well
  • Cooler temperatures

Fortunately, the Willamette Valley and Yamhill Valley have very similar growing conditions. We have the cooler temperatures, the longer spring and fall seasons and unique soil. The terroir here in the Willamette Valley imparts specific tastes to our Pinot Noir that makes it very uniquely our own.

One aspect of our land allows us to really bring out specific and unique tastes in our wine. That is: the soil. Each block here at Youngberg Hill has very specific soil types, and you can taste this in the wine itself.

For example, the Bailey block is composed primarily of volcanic rock and shale while the Natasha block features mainly marine sedimentary soil. When you taste Pinot Noir created from each of these distinct blocks in the same year, you can tell they are distinct.

To compare the different soils in another way: the 2012 Jordan Pinot Noir pairs well with red meat and game, while the 2012 Natasha Pinot Noir pairs with duck, salmon, and pork. Both are created from Pinot Noir grapes, but they have distinct flavors.

We are very lucky to have such a perfect climate for Pinot Noir here in the Willamette Valley. It’s much like living in a little slice of Burgundy, France.

Don’t believe us? Come visit and enjoy our lovely rolling hills, temperate climate, and fabulous wines for yourself!blog action photo tasting room sing

7 Ways You Can Add Organic Charm to Your Wine Country Wedding

September 1st, 2015 by Rachel

 Wine Country WeddingWe are sure you’ve seen all of the amazing boho-chic and rustic organic charm featured in Pinterest weddings. You have also probably seen the “Pinterest fails” when someone tries to duplicate the beautiful photos and projects featured on that popular website. In this article, we have compiled seven beautiful ideas that will add organic charm to your Willamette Valley wedding. We have seen these ideas in action, so we know you won’t have to take a “fail” picture when using them in your wedding.

1 – Incorporate seasonal flowers. A spring/early summer wedding may bloom with soft pink peonies and roses while a summer wedding can feature glorious dahlias and sunflowers. Using seasonal flowers can only enhance the natural surroundings found here in Oregon Wine country.Wine Country Wedding

2 – Speaking of flowers… think about where you want the flowers.
When we think about boho-chic weddings or weddings with an organic feel, we usually think about flower crowns adorning the bride’s hair, trailing bouquets, and flowers in containers big and small. While you may think to just adorn everything with flowers, that can get pretty expensive. So, consider how and where you’d like to place the flowers so that you get the biggest bang for your buck.

3 – The cake can be anything from crazy creative or super au naturel. Generally, organic or rustic weddings have a cake that either looks like a flower or has flowers involved in the decoration. The other side of the boho/organic coin is to have a very plain looking layered cake. If you want the flower look, but don’t want to actually eat petals, you may want to look at silk flower cake toppers or other faux flower decorations.

Wine Country Wedding4 – Decorations can be creative. Organic weddings have a flowy, wild garden, and vintage feel. This means you can use your imagination when decorating. Think about different fillers you can use. Some ideas include hay, snapdragons, rosemary, feathers, wildflowers, or thistle. Also, look at materials like lace and burlap to decorate your chairs or vases. You can have a ton of fun decorating for your wine country wedding.

5 – Mismatching is okay. We have seen more and more couples use adorably mismatched vases and mason jars, wood and metal buckets, fun wood signs, and more. When you go for a boho-chic look, mismatching goes with the overall look.

Willamette Valley Wedding6 – You aren’t stuck with a traditional dress or only wearing white. Modern brides are not stuck with pure white, traditionally cut dresses. Wedding dresses can be any color and any style.  Pick the dress and color that makes you feel gorgeous and you have your wedding dress!

7 – Have fun with it! Pinterest weddings are always gorgeous, but this is your wedding. You and your partner are celebrating your unique and one-of-a-kind love. So, don’t feel restricted by Pinterest or a set theme. Create your own beauty and we guarantee your wedding will be just as wonderful as your love for one another.

We hope our tips have helped you as you plan your big day!Willamette Valley Wedding

Five Fun Things to Do at a Winery

July 28th, 2015 by Rachel

WineryHeading out to a winery for a visit is always a great time. There are wines to taste, questions to ask, and sights to see. However, there is more to do at a winery then simply go wine tasting. Here are five activities that you should plan to do when you visit an Oregon winery:

#1. Stay. Many wineries, Youngberg Hill included, have an inn or bed and breakfast attached to the vineyard. These are gorgeous places to stay – and they are often right in the middle of wine country. In our case, we are surrounded by over 150 wineries and tasting rooms.

#2. Take a driving tour. Wine country is absolutely beautiful. Don’t miss a minute of it searching for street signs or worrying about where you should go next. Instead, schedule a driving tour and let someone else take you through wine country.

#3. Schedule a tour of the vineyard and/or barrel room. Many wineries will offer a tour of the vineyard or barrel room if you schedule one ahead of time. Call them up and ask if it is possible to get one. You will have the opportunity to see how the grapes are grown, the winemaking process, and possibly have a chance to taste some wine right out of the barrel.

Winery Tour#4. Pack a picnic. Many wineries and tasting rooms don’t offer food, but will allow you to eat on their porch and enjoy the scenery. Pack a picnic, buy a bottle, sit on the deck and soak in the beauty of the surrounding countryside. You won’t be disappointed.

#5. Attend a winemaker dinner. Winemaker dinners are a fantastic opportunity to sip great wine, eat perfectly paired food, and pick the brain of the people who put their heart and soul into creating the wine. Not only does this give you a chance to understand what you are drinking in an in-depth way, you will have interesting conversations and you may even make a friend or five.

Visiting a winery is not just about the tasting – although that is always delightful. You have an opportunity to get an in-depth look at the wine, those who created it, and the vineyard in which it was grown.

We would love to hear your favorite part of a winery visit. Let us know!


Let’s Elope! Six Do’s and Don’ts for the Perfect Elopement

July 21st, 2015 by Rachel

ElopementElopement has become a trend recently. While this spur of the moment decision may be just right for your relationship, there are still some do’s and don’ts you should watch out for:

DO Share the news with your loved ones. Even if your mother will be disappointed that you and your partner are not having an all-out Disney princess wedding, it is important to include your loved ones in your happy news and your joy.

DON’T Feel the need to justify your decision. There may be questions about why you decided upon an elopement over a wedding. Some people may even have negative emotions surrounding your decision. Be prepared to simply acknowledge that other people may feel left out and move on with your new, married lives.

DO Work out a budget. This is still your wedding day and there are things you may still want. Perhaps it’s a special outfit, the rings, or an amazing location. It is the “little things” that are extremely important when it comes to the day you and your partner are married.

DON’T Fail to follow legal rules. Some states require that you get married a certain number of days after obtaining a marriage license. Others may demand that you have witnesses at the ceremony. Make sure to research and follow the legal rules so that you and your partner are actually married once all is said and done.

DO Have a celebration. You may want to wait until after your honeymoon to share your joy with friends and family, but make sure to have a celebratory “we tied the knot” dinner or low-key party once the deed is done.

DON’T Forget the photographer. Even if you are just running to the courthouse or you are booking an elopement package at your local winery, you will want pictures of your special day. There are some expenses which should never be spared, and one of those is your photographer.

Every couple has a reason for their decision to wed or elope. No matter how you decide to get married, know that you are making the right decision for your relationship. And… Congratulations!!


A Great Big THANK YOU from Youngberg Hill

July 14th, 2015 by Rachel

Youngberg HillYou may wonder why we wanted to take a moment this month to give all of our friends, visitors, guests, and fellow wine enthusiasts a warm thank you. We have a number of reasons to thank you all this year. We want to thank you for trying our wines. We want to thank you for joining our winemaker dinners. We want to thank you for challenging us to do better and to grow as a winery and an inn.

Recently, we won the Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor. Because this is such a customer-driven award, we were blown away by all of the fantastic reviews we received. It’s not always easy for individuals to take the time to stop and write a review about a location they have stayed at or just visited, but many of you took the time. That action is more important than you may think – and here is why:

We read every review written about us that is on the internet. That is a pretty tough task, but we do it. This is not just because we like to pat ourselves on the back. We read these reviews because we want to challenge ourselves to do better.

Not only do we work hard to take time out and listen to our customers on the internet, we take the time to talk to visitors and guests while they are here. Our goal is to make your experience at our inn, vineyard, and winery the best experience possible.

People come to Youngberg Hill for many reasons. Some of our guests are bursting with joy on their wedding day. Others are looking for a good glass of wine, while still others are simply here to put their feet up and relax for a few days. Our goal is to meet the needs of every one of our guests.

Now, here are just a few of the many fantastic reviews for which we are so grateful. Again, thank you to the reviewers!!

Perfect Getaway

“Great hospitality and some of the best views in the area. Stayed here for 2 nights and it was the perfect spot to explore the wine region. The Inn manager was awesome, and the owners were on site to talk about the vineyard, which was nice. Very unpretentious, helpful hosts. We had a lovely time.” – TripAdvisor Member May 24, 2015


“This is our 4th visit to Youngberg Hill Inn over the past 15 years. We were very happy with our stay. You cannot beat the views, hospitality, or food. The wine tasting is also great. We were fortunate to stay in the beautiful Jura suite. The pictures on the internet are great, but even better in person. All rooms are nice. Mariafeld would be a close second choice of room, but all rooms are beautiful.” – Margaret F. May 12, 2015

Bed and Breakfast Gem in McMinnville

“We have stayed in several bed and breakfasts in the Oregon wine country and this one is top on our list. Our room had a fireplace, but we didn’t use it as the weather was fantastic. We had a balcony to an incredible view. There was a complimentary wine tasting each evening and the breakfasts were great. Nathan was the chef and he was super helpful.” – Elaine B. March 22, 2015

Loved our tasting

“We stopped here one afternoon for a tasting. Becky, the friendly host, took a lot of time with us and we loved the gorgeous outdoor setting and views. Just beautiful. It made us wish we had booked a room here, too!” – TripAdvisor Member September 4, 2014

These are just a few of the 299 reviews written about Youngberg Hill Vineyard and Inn on TripAdvisor! So, thank you again for taking time out to tell us about your stay with us. Thank you for coming to visit us. We cannot wait to see each and every one of you again soon!

Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley: Then and Now

July 7th, 2015 by Rachel

Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley

Pinot Noir in the Willamette ValleyNot only are we at Youngberg Hill celebrating our 25th anniversary this year, the entire Willamette Valley is celebrating 50 years of Pinot Noir. In honor of both of these anniversaries, we wanted to talk about the development of Pinot Noir here in our beloved valley.

Brief History of Pinot in the Valley

Back in 1965, David Lett planted Pinot Noir here in the Willamette Valley. By 1970 there were just five bonded Oregon wineries. In the ’60s and early ’70s, winemakers were simply matching varietals with climate. They ordered the cool climate varieties and crossed their fingers – hoping the match would be perfect. Luckily, it was and Oregon Pinot Noir blossomed throughout the Willamette Valley.

By 1974, Oregon State University was able to help create clones of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay imported from Burgundy, France. The Burgundy weather and land is very similar to the Willamette Valley climate, and these clones thrived. Oregon wine was put on the map as a force to be reckoned with and in 1975, Portland restaurant L’Omelette created the very first wine list featuring Oregon wines.

Over time, more and more wineries sprouted up throughout Oregon. By 1980 there were 34 bonded Oregon wineries and in 1985 Oregon wine saw a huge triumph. Our local Pinot Noir outshined the French in the Burgundy Challenge at the International Wine Center in New York. By 1990 – when Youngberg Hill came to the Willamette Valley – there were 70 bonded Oregon wineries and by 1997 sustainable winegrowing became a hallmark of Oregon winegrowers. There are about 400 wineries in the Willamette Valley now, and that number is still climbing.

Here at Youngberg Hill Willamette Valley Winery

Over the years Oregon wineries have worked toward carbon neutral, sustainable farming practices. At Youngberg Hill, we work to embody these environmentally friendly strategies in both our farming and winemaking practices. We feel these processes don’t just help the environment, they allow our wine to express the terroir in taste and texture.

Not only have we made sustainable improvements in farming practices, we have added variety to our wine repertoire. At the moment we have three distinct blocks of Pinot Noir and one block of Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.

One thing that shows up strongly in Willamette Valley wines is the terroir (the taste and flavor imparted to a wine by the environment in which it was produced). We have 20 acres of vineyard and each block has a distinct taste based on varying soil types and microclimates just in those 20 acres. We feel this variety is what makes Oregon wine country produce such fine and distinguished wines.

There has never been a better time to visit Oregon wine country. We are excited to see what harvest this year has to bring us and are proud to present our 2014 wine selection. Be sure to visit us this year for our silver anniversary and look forward to our 2015 wines next year. We are thrilled to share them with you!