Posts Tagged ‘terroir’

Veraison in the Willamette Valley

August 15th, 2016 by Nicolette Bailey

Veraison blogGrapes turning color in the Willamette Valley means that veraison is upon us. Veraison is an exciting time for grape growers because it signals the beginning of the ripening stage. Pinot Noir grapes turn from green to a dark black-blue color. Pinot Gris grapes turn autumn colors like orange, red, and yellow. Pinot Blanc grapes turn a very light frosty green. This process typically takes about two weeks to complete and then serious ripening begins.

Although it is the easiest to recognize, skin color is not the only change to occur. The pulp of the berries change from a gelatin to a more liquid consistency.  With this change, the pulp also adheres less to the seeds. The flavors of the fruit begin, meaning that instead of just tasting like grapes, you can taste all the other flavors that will later be enjoyed in the wine. The seeds themselves will turn from green to brown, lending to more mature seed tannins. The tannins that will show up in the wine later also develop in the skins, softening as the grape matures. And yes, the fruit becomes sweeter, shifting away from the unripen tartness.

From the time of veraison forward, we hope for continued long, cool, dry, sunny weather through harvest. This will slow the ripening and allow all of the above transitions to evolve in concert.  The more balanced all these characteristics are in the fruit at harvest, the more balanced and of higher quality the finished wine will be. Hot weather during ripening pushes the fruit to ripen faster bring out more robust, fruit forward characteristics that typically throw the wine out of balance. Too cool of weather may also lead to an unbalanced wine via unripe fruit.

It’s this important stage of the grapes growing cycle that makes Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley so special. We are blessed with the weather needed to provide wonderfully balanced fruit to produce the highest quality Pinot Noir.

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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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What Wine Terms Really Mean

May 12th, 2015 by Rachel

Willamette Valley Wine TermsWinemaking is a highly specialized field. Because of this, there are a number of wine terms which can get pretty confusing because they often have both specialized meanings as well as non-specialized definitions. Many of these wine terms have roots in other languages, which can make them seem more confusing.

We want to help you articulate and understand what it is about wine that makes it something you love. We’ve created a list of terms that many people find confusing. Knowing these terms will help you discover even more wine that you love.

Acid: This chemical is produced during the fermentation process. Grapes from cooler regions or chilly seasons have higher acidity levels while grapes from warmer climates have lower acidity. In white wine, acidity can taste like lemon or lime juice. Acid adds tartness and zest to wine.

Body: This is a very commonly used term when one is trying to identify a type of wine. The term “body” is used to describe the weight or feel of the wine in your mouth. Often what determines body is the amount of alcohol in the wine. The higher the alcohol, the more body the wine has.

Earthy: When we say something is “earthy,” we often mean that it is evocative of the pleasant smell of rich, fresh, clean soil. It can also indicate that the wine has woody or truffle scents. In French, this term is called goût de terroir.

Finish: The term “finish” is used to describe the quality of a wine. Finish indicates the taste the wine leaves in one’s mouth after drinking. When it has a long, rich taste that lingers after your wine has been swallowed, it is said to have a “long finish.”Willamette Valley Wine Term

Mineral, Minerality: This is a wine tasting term that indicates the smell of wet stones or crushed rocks. It can also mean that a wine has a taste indicative of the land in which the grapes were grown. This means it can have different tastes – anything from chalk to slate. Often wines with minerality are complex and nuanced.

Oaky: We use oak barrels to age our wine. The type of oak barrel and the length of time the wine resides in the barrel affect the taste. Usually oak adds flavors of butter, vanilla or coconut to white wines. In red wine it often adds the taste of baking spices, toasty vanilla or sometimes dill. A wine can become overly oaked and the taste can overwhelm the wine making it taste charred or burnt, or like lumber or plywood.

Residual Sugar: This is the sugar that remains in the wine after fermentation. This may or may not be done on purpose. Sugar can be left in to help change the taste of your wine, making it less astringent or creating a sweeter wine. However, sometimes residual sugar can cause a less than pleasant taste, making a wine too sweet.

Tannin: The mouth-puckering substance that comes from grape skins, seeds, stems, or even oak barrels. Tannins help your wine age and develop. Younger wines have a stronger taste of tannin than wines that have been aged. This is often solved by decanting a bottle or aerating.

Terroir: A French term that indicates the entire physical and environmental characteristics of a particular vineyard. These characteristics influence the grapes and the wine that is made from them. We respect our terroir here at Youngberg Hill.

There are an enormous amount of terms associated with winemaking and wine tasting. These are just a few of them. You can always come to our Willamette Valley winery and ask us what we mean when we describe our wines. Associating specialized words with an actual taste will help you deepen your knowledge of wine and help you find even more wines that you love.

Cheers!

Why Should You Join a Wine Club?

April 7th, 2015 by Rachel

We love Willamette Valley Pinot Noir here at Youngberg HillThis Saturday is our wine pick up party for wine club members visiting us here in the Willamette Valley. Members who wish to pick up their wine can swing by anytime between 10 AM and 4 PM on April 11th to receive their spring shipment… and the traditional fresh batch of baklava.

The wine club here at Youngberg Hill is a close knit group. We think there are many reasons for this. Here are just a few:

1. Because we are both a vineyard and winery, we can offer more when it comes to wine club membership. For example, our standard club membership provides wine as well as savings on additional wine purchased.

However, membership also provides access to private events, library wines, limited releases and exclusive bottlings. Pinot Club membership not only gives the member additional bottles of wine, but provides them with complimentary attendance for two at a select winemaker dinner as well as a vineyard/winery tour for four.

2. We both grow and create the wine right here at Youngberg Hill – and we have a large number of events and dinners every year. This means our members get exclusive access to activities whenever they are visiting the Willamette Valley.

3. Exclusivity allows our members to meet each other and become friends with all of us here at Youngberg Hill. So, our wine club members not only receive the wine they love all year round, they have access to the winemakers, special events, and limited-batch wine. All of this creates a close-knit group of wine lovers.Willamette Valley's Youngberg Hill wine club

This is what we feel a wine club should be. There are larger, more corporate-type wine clubs out there. These provide members with wine every few months along with a newsletter or discounts. This hands-off approach may work for some, but for those who care about the terroir and want to delve into the winemaking process, the corporate approach leaves them out in the cold.

We take the personal approach to all activities here at Youngberg Hill. From growing the grapes to hosting winemaker dinners. From music on the deck in summertime to the annual grapevine wreath making party in the winter. Each activity allows us to deepen our connection with our community, the land around us, and the wine we create.

What is your opinion of wine clubs? We would love to hear from you!

Four Great Questions to Ask at a Winemaker Dinner

October 7th, 2014 by Rachel

Winemaker DinnerA winemaker dinner is a laid back, unpretentious food and wine pairing event which allows people to enjoy great food and wine along with excellent conversation.  It’s also a good time to pick a winemaker’s brain.  However, even at events designed for some question and answer, it can be hard to figure out what to ask. With our upcoming harvest winemaker dinner on October 25th, we thought we could give you some ideas for great questions you may want to ask the winemaker.

#1. Where in the world do your favorite wines originate?
The winemaker clearly chose his or her vineyard because of the ability of the terroir to grow specific grapes. However, the varietals grown come from a different location, like France or Italy.  The winemaker dinner is a great time to dig deep and learn more about the history of your wine.

#2. Can you explain why this wine pairs well with the food I’m eating?
Sometimes you’ll get a pairing that don’t make sense in your head – but is just right in your mouth. The winemaker and chef have gone over the food, down to the sauces, that pair just right with the wine served. Ask the winemaker why the pairings were made – you might be surprised to find that, without that particular sauce, your duck and Pinot Noir wouldn’t match well at all.

#3. What characteristics do you think we can expect in wine coming from the most recent/upcoming harvest?
It’s wine harvesting season!  This is the perfect time to pick the winemaker’s brain about what he expects to come out of this year’s bounty.

#4. What is the story of this particular wine?
The winemaker has the real in-depth knowledge behind that vintage and varietal of wine. Get the scoop.  Ask about the process of deciding your wine was ready for bottling and what the weather was like for that particular year. You’ll learn more about wine – and will likely hear a few fun stories along with way.

In the end, a winemaker dinner is time to sit back, relax, and enjoy. You can learn more about the wine you are drinking than you’d be able to at a restaurant – and catch up with friends. No matter why you attend, we hope to see you at the dinner this month!  Will you be able to come?  Click here to get the details.

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