Posts Tagged ‘Youngberg Hill’

10 Reasons Why the Willamette Valley Wine Industry is so Sustainable

July 13th, 2016 by Nicolette Bailey

PrintAs a Willamette Valley wine grape grower, we pride ourselves on being a very sustainable lot. Here are 10 reasons:

1. We are small family farms that we are protecting the land and vines for future generations.
2. Most of us are raising our children on and around the vineyards.
3. Many of us have been influenced by the sustainable farming practices in Burgundy.
4. We believe that sustainable farming practices make for a higher quality wine.
5. Many of us are organic farmers.
6. Some of us farm holistically (biodynamically).
7. Many of us dry farm (no irrigation).
8. Because we are small, we can manage the more challenging aspects of sustainable farming practices.
9. Healthy ground leads to healthy vines, which leads to healthy fruit that ultimately creates healthy wine.
10. The climate for the Willamette Valley is optimal for sustainable farming practices.

The Willamette Valley is blessed by great soils above 300 feet in elevation as a result of uplift from the ancient ocean floor. These hillside soils are perfect for growing wine grapes. In the Valley, we generally get about 40 inches of rain a year, mostly from November through May. During the growing season, we get little rain with a relative humidity around 30%. We also benefit greatly from our close proximity to the Pacific Ocean; providing air conditioning during the summer and warmth during the winter. These factors all combine to give us the conditions that enable us to be more sustainable.

Drink healthy, Drink Oregon wine!

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The Heart of Burgundy or the Heart of Willamette Valley

May 17th, 2016 by Nicolette Bailey

beaune blog mapBeaune is the capital and heart of the Burgundy: a historic and storied Pinot Noir region. McMinnville is the capital and heart of Willamette Valley, which is home to many wineries that specialize in Pinot Noir.  In addition to geographic similarities, McMinnville is also home to the IPNC, or the International Pinot Noir Celebration.  McMinnville is in many ways the Beaune of the New World.

Now in its 30th year, the International Pinot Noir Celebration is held the last full weekend of July in McMinnville, Oregon. The event offers Pinot noir consumers and industry members the chance to enjoy an unparalleled selection of Pinot noir from around the world via a full schedule of seminars, walk around tastings, winery tours, and unforgettable meals prepared by top Northwest chefs. With the exception of vineyard and winery tmcminnville blogours, the IPNC is held on the beautiful and historic campus of Linfield College. The IPNC offers three experiences for guests to choose from: The Full Weekend (Friday-Sunday), Salmon Bake (Saturday evening), and the Passport to Pinot (Sunday afternoon).

IPNC is open to the public as a celebration to Pinot Noir and is truly international. Wineries and winemakers from all the major Pinot Noir growing regions in the world are represented including Willamette Valley, Burgundy, New Zealand, California, as well as other regions like Austria, Germany, Canada, and Chili. It is a great way to experience Pinot Noirs from all over the world along with learning about terroir and what differentiates Pinot Noir from around the world. The weekend is laced with one of a kind eating and wine tasting experiences. For more information, go to IPNC.com.ipnc blog

Prior to IPNC, it is customary for wineries in the valley to have welcoming dinners on Thursday night. Similar to years past, Youngberg Hill will be hosting one of these culinary experiences. This year, renowned chef Michael Smith, of Michael Smith Restaurant in Kansas City, will be the guest chef. The dinner will be held outside in our new event building overlooking the most fabulous views in the valley.  It’s in this very relaxed environment, that you will enjoy an intimate evening of wine and food. Go to www.youngberghill.com for more information and to reserve your seats now.

The IPNC is separate from another Pinot event: OPC, or Oregon Pinot Camp. OPC, on the other hand, is for educating individuals from all over the world, who are involved in the wine trade.  They spend time learning about what makes growing Pinot Noir grapes and making Pinot Noir in the valley so special. With this experience, these lucky individuals become ambassadors for Oregon Pinot Noir around the world.

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Becoming a Flow Hive Beekeeper at Youngberg Hill

May 2nd, 2016 by Nicolette Bailey

IMG_0442Since vineyard grapevines are self-pollinating, you may question why we’ve recently begun beekeeping up here at Youngberg Hill.  Quite simply, bees play an essential role within our bio-dynamic farming practices.  Becoming a beekeeper initially seemed out of my comfort zone but as the time goes by I find myself learning and enjoying bees more and more.  Bees are one of the most studied creatures on the planet with a highly complex society, who are essential to the production of a majority of our fruits, nuts, and vegetables.  Without these pollinators our diet would consist primarily of grains and wine.

I first became intrigued in beekeeping years ago but didn’t have the time to devote to it.  More recently, I came across a Facebook post about the Flow Hive.  They made beekeeping look easier than the traditional method so I asked my girls if any of them would be interested in doing it with me.

I was met with pure enthusiasm from my youngest, Aspen who is nine. With an adventurous twinkle in both our eyes we began our bee journey as partners.  I quickly learned that just because the Flow Hive offered some time savings when harvesting the honey we still needed to learn a lot about how to take care of the bees.

Our first step to becoming beekeepers was to attend a beekeeping class put on by the Willamette Valley Beekeepers Association. They presented a basic level of information on how bees work together, communicate, propagate, and survive. I was both intrigued and a bit overwhelmed at the information we were learning.  One thing that did become evident is the need for bees in order to maintain a healthy environment.  In a way, I felt like beekeeping would be one way that Aspen and I could work together to help save the world.  To be honest, for me the altruistic part of this venture is second to the enjoyment I experience spending time with Aspen. As for Aspen, she plans on speaking and giving presentations about bees to guests at Youngberg Hill and at school.

What about Bee Stings?

In our 13 years no one has ever been stung by a honeybee at Youngberg Hill.  We have received a number of stings from the wasps that live in all area vineyards and farms.  Wasps, like honeybees are beneficial in pollinating plants, but they aren’t our friends. Wasps are natural enemies of honeybees, so to be successful beekeepers we now need to take wasp management to a higher level.  When honeybees sting you they die so they really do want to avoid it at all cost.  They really don’t want to sting you!

Wasps sting and continue to live. For the most part if you leave bees alone they won’t bother you. You can work around them in the garden without fear. All they want to do is collect nectar and pollen.

Honey Goals

Our goal is to have successful hives to produce both honey and honeycomb that we can use at the Inn and sell in our gift shop.  Aspen is the CEO of the project and along with learning about beekeeping, she will be learning how to manage a business including keeping records, buying supplies, marketing, managing the hives and of course sampling the product to make sure it is the highest quality.

We are excited about this new experience, and will be sure to update our progress and knowledge with you as we move forward with our bee journey.

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Aspen & Nicolette Bee Day!

5 ways to Celebrate Oregon Wine Month in the Willamette Valley

April 5th, 2016 by Nicolette Bailey

Oregon wine month 2016May is Oregon Wine Month in the Willamette Valley, and we couldn’t think of a better time to enjoy all that this area has to offer. The following are five ways to get out and explore the lesser visited parts of the Willamette Valley.

  1. 3rd Street in downtown McMinnville: This is a hub for a variety of activities. Wander the sidewalks exploring the many locally owned boutique shops lining the street, or enjoy one of the several top notch restaurants such as Bistro Maison, Nick’s, Thistle, and the Barberry. While also on 3rd Street, stop by the Elizabeth Chambers Cellar for a wine tasting.
  2. McMinnville AVA: This viticulture area is the place to enjoy exquisite wines that are distinguished for their depth, complexity, bold structure, and black fruit. Enjoy less crowded tasting rooms, unique views, beautiful structures, and friendly hospitality at these family owned wineries. You’ll be treated to all of these things at Youngberg Hill, Coeur de Terre, Yamhill Valley, Maysara, Coleman, and J Wrigley.
  3. Eola Hills AVA: Travel over to McMinnville’s neighboring wine growing area to taste the difference that a few miles can make. Spend a day visiting Brooks, Bethel Heights, and Cristom. Make a lunch stop in Amity at the Blue Goat for fresh, local fare before continuing your wine tasting adventures at Coelho Winery.
  4. Yamhill-Carlton: This town is where you’ll find many small wine producers making great quality wines that you wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere. Carlton is also home to several tasting rooms for wineries from other parts of Oregon pouring bigger red varietals.
  5. The Oregon Coast: Ok, this may not be technically part of the Willamette Valley, but it is only a short trip from the heart of the valley. Many people don’t know that McMinnville is only 45 to 50 minutes from the Pacific Ocean.  Not only are there great beaches and views in Pacific City, there are many great restaurants along Hwy 101 from Pacific City to Newport. Take a break from wine tasting and head to the beach, enjoy some fresh seafood, and Oregon wines.

2015 Vintage in the Willamette Valley

January 9th, 2016 by Nicolette Bailey

Harvest 2013 1042015 vintage in the Willamette Valley was a banner year for growing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and other grape varietals, especially at Youngberg Hill.

I’m sure you have heard a lot about the on the west coast 2015 drought and its impact on agriculture. In the Willamette Valley, we are blessed with plenty of rain during the off season that sustains us through the dry growing months.  In fact, we don’t want any rain during the growing season. Because of this, we didn’t suffer from lack of water even though Youngberg Hill is a dry farm. What was a challenge this last year was the heat.  It required us to be more diligent in our management of the canopy and protecting the fruit from the sun. In addition, we took more time and care cutting off dried and sunburnt fruit from the vine before harvest. And in a wonderful turn of events, September turned ouIMG_8304[1]t to be cooler than normal which slowed down ripening and gave us fruit that is very well balanced. All of these factors combined should make 2015 the best vintage ever for Youngberg Hill!

In December, we bottled the Pinot Noir’s from the 2014 vintage, and are excited to share them with the world upon their release in September of 2016. While 2014 vintage was also a warmer year, the fruit aged beautifully in the barrel and is showing just as good as the renown 2012 vintage. In the meantime, the newly released 2013 vintage is tasting great right out of the bottle.

join our wine clubLooking forward, 2016 looks to be another great year as the age of the vines and health of the vineyard continues to improve. Youngberg Hill’s organic and biodynamic farming practices are really paying off both in the health of the vines and also in the quality of the fruit.

We wish everyone a great 2016! Cheers!

Truffles and Mushrooms in the Willamette Valley

December 21st, 2015 by Nicolette Bailey

Oregon-Truffle-FestivalWhile the Willamette Valley is known for Pinot Noir, it’s also a great area for mushrooms. While there are a variety of seasonal mushrooms available throughout the year, Oregon truffles and mushrooms in the Willamette Valley are the seasonal favorite. Both native black and white truffles are hunted here every winter.  Mushrooms are so good here that they are the driving force behind The Joel Palmer House restaurant in Dayton, Oregon, which was founded by the son of a legendary Pennsylvania restaurateur who was passionate about mushrooms.

Oregon is also blessed with an abundance of wild truffles with culinary qualities equal to those of Europe, and as with French grapes, Oregon has the perfect climate for cultivation of the renowned French truffles. As the ultimate culinary delicacies, truffles are emblematic of the good life in every region where they grow, and in Oregon they are complemented by our wealth of other wild and cultivated gourmet foods, outstanding Oregon wines, and an increasing number of extraordinarily talented and award winning chefs.

The Oregon Truffle Festival is dedicated to the celebration of these delicious fungi.  It will be celebrating its tenth year of activities across the Willamette Valley beginning in January 2016 with activities from the 16th through the 31st. These activities will include growing your own, dog training and hunting competition, Pinot Noir pairings, dinners and luncheons, and also a market for you to pick up some truffles to take home with you. For more information, go to http://www.oregontrufflefestival.com/.

And while in The Valley, don’t forget to take advantage of all the other culinary and wine activities available throughout the winter. Cheers!

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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