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Oregon Pinot noir

The 2018 Vintage Recap

2018 vintage 2018 vintage has been a very pleasant growing season. Spring (bud break) was later than it had been the last 3 or 4 years, just slightly earlier than average. It was cooler and wetter which slowed down growth such that bloom was about average timing. As a result, the vines were healthy and bloom moved on to fruit set with no weather issues and all the clusters/fruit developed were very even.

Summer started on time but warmer than normal. Through August, while we did not have any extremely hot days of 95+ degrees as in the last few years, we did have consistently warmer temperatures ranging 8 to 10 degrees above normal over long periods of time. This accelerated the development of the fruit and moved us into veraison a little earlier than we would have expected based on the timing of bloom. What does earlier veraison mean? It means that the fruit begins to ripen in warmer temperatures, that has the potential to throw things a little bit out of balance as the fruit ripens faster.

Fortunately, as if the weather was trying to help the vines out, temperatures in September began to gradually go down below average. These lower temperatures slow ripening of the fruit which is a good thing. Slower fruit ripening in cooler temperatures keeps fruit development in balance. We also have had a couple of stints of moisture creep into the valley providing reprieve for the vines and slowing development even further.

All this, has me very optimistic for the wines out of the 2018 vintage. While it is still a little early to make predictions, I see great potential in the fruit to develop complexity and balance in the wines.

YHV Wins Double Gold in the Cascadia Competition & IPNC

Eric Degerman (Tri-Cities Herald & Great Northwest Wine) 5/18 Eric reviews the 32nd annual IPNC and includes YHV as wineries to look for: https://t.co/O1vCMdDx3Z

Can wine be better than the grapes?

There are two concepts that we try to impress on guests tasting our wines; that wine is an agricultural product and that you cannot make a higher quality wine than the quality of the fruit harvested.

In an interview with Betty and Tony Notto from Weekly Wine Show on Wednesday, December 20th, we discussed those two ideas in more depth. Click HERE to learn more about us and these concepts.   The full show can be heard at the bottom of the linked page.

 

 

 

The Vineyard Trail talks BioD farming with Wayne Bailey

Miki & Elizabeth (The Vineyard Trail) 12/14 The winers talk biodynamic farming in Willamette Valley http://ow.ly/gchY30hgg4d in their blog and newsletter communication

Holiday Wine Pairings

Looking for a great idea for pairing wine for the holidays?  Try Michelle’s recipe that works perfectly with both our Holiday Wine Packages. This will be served along with other wonderful items every Saturday & Sunday in our tasting room for the month of November.

Sweet Potato & Ham Crostini
Prep Time: 10 min. Cook Time: 40 min. Total Time: 50 min.

  • 1 Large Sweet Potato
  • 3 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 5 oz. Goat Cheese
  • 3 tbsp. Youngberg Hill Organic Honey
  • 2 slices Honey Glazed Ham cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup Candied Walnut pieces
  • 3-4 Sprigs of Thyme

To Roast the Sweet Potato: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Wash sweet potato and dry with a towel. Slice sweet potato into 1/8 – 1/4 inch slices. Mix together Olive Oil and Sea Salt and lightly coat sweet potato slices. Place on baking tray making sure that they do not touch each other. Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes.  Flip the slices, and cook for another 15-20 minutes until they are cooked through and crispy on edges.  Note: cooking time may vary based on size and thickness of slices. Let slices cool a bit before topping

Toppings:

  • Place a small dollop of Goat Cheese
  • Drizzle on Honey
  • Add pieces of Ham.  Note: You can add the ham cold, heated or fried.  My 1st choice is fried.
  • Top with Candied Walnut pieces and a sprinkle fresh Thyme leaves

Cork Versus Screw Cap

There continues to be a lot of discussion and varying opinions regarding wines bottled with cork closure versus screw cap. A recent survey suggested that the “perceived” quality of the wine was higher for a corked wine versus screw cap. The question is “Is this perception driven by actual results, historical information, technical data, or varietal/regional production?” My guess is that it is a combination of all coupled with the romanticism of the cork in what has historically been the classic wines of the world over the centuries.

As a winemaker, the most important thing for me is that my customers always have a great experience when opening up a bottle of Youngberg Hill, whether it be a current vintage or one that is 20 years old. Also as a wine maker, I am making wines that are meant to age well for a long time if stored well. That means it is important to have a closure that will consistently allow the wine to age in the bottle, as it is a living organism.

As an engineer, I look at the closure options in a factual and technical way rather than a romantic or perceived way. Back in 2009 when we converted everything over to screw cap, I spent many hours going over technical data, specifications, options, etc. to determine the best closure to achieve my two goals of never having a customer open up a bad bottle of Youngberg Hill and having great aging potential.

Let me add at this point that a closure will not make a wine better or improve its quality. The wine’s quality is determined in the vineyard and then in the winery to what goes into the bottle. The closure can cause or allow a wine to become less in quality, but not to improve.

So why did I choose screw cap? Again, first and foremost, I never want anyone to ever open a bottle of wine that has gone bad. With screw cap, that is assured. Second, I make our wines to be very age worthy, so I want to ensure that 20 years from now, every bottle will not only be great, but also the same. With screw caps, the technology has improved to the point that I can purchase a screw cap with a seal that will allow ½ gram of air to weep into a bottle each year. Not only will that amount be the same bottle to bottle (the tolerance on the screw cap seal is much closer than the variance in cork), but also year to year the seal will not degrade in a screw cap like a cork will do over time. Therefore, when you open a case of Youngberg Hill a year from now or 20 years from now, they will all be the same great wine to enjoy. How many times have you opened up a bottle of wine in a cork only to find that it has gone bad.

Third, we are conscious of our carbon foot print and while you can find statistics to prove either side, my most broad base research suggests that screw caps leave a smaller footprint.

I might also add that opposed to the perception that a screw cap bottling is a less expensive option and, therefore, why it is chosen, in fact, a screw cap bottle and closure are more expensive than a cork bottle and cork.

Youngberg Hill’s Charitable Giving

We have had the honor over the years of helping families annually with our many charities including Boys & Girls Club, CAP, YCAP, See Ya Later Foundation, Henderson House, Give A Little Foundation, and The Ronald McDonald House Foundation.  We focus on specific charities to make a larger impact in each rather than doing many charities with less impact. This year we have decided to increase our giving to Give A Little. Strengthening communities by providing hope, happiness, and comfort to families and children who need it most is important to us. We are committed to giving back to our community as an important part of who we are. We have chosen to focus more on Give A Little Foundation because of their effort to assist the local McMinnville High School students not only to be able to successfully achieve their goal of graduating, but also experience those little things that make high school a great memory of life.

What is the Give A Little Foundation?
They are an independent, grass-roots, nonprofit organization that provides immediate, one-time financial assistance to individuals and families in Yamhill County who are in crisis or experiencing severe adversity.  They provide a safety net for those who may have nowhere else to turn, always with the goal of helping people maintain or achieve self-sufficiency. To donate directly to this wonderful cause, click here.

To provide more support for this great program, we have committed to donate $15 for every bottle of 2014 Nicolette’s Barrel Select Pinot Noir. The Nicolette’s Select is our special reserve bottling of only 25 cases.  The Nicolette’s Select will be available in the tasting room and online. With your help, we can provide over $4000 to Give A Little Foundation.

 

Oregon Wine Harvest 2016 Update

It is hard to believe that September has just begun, and in the Willamette Valley Oregon wine country is in its second week of harvest. Even the pioneers that have been growing Pinot in the valley for 50 years do not remember harvesting a vintage this early in the season. As a result, wines in this year’s vintage are expected to be more robust and fruit forward due to ripening fruit in hotter days of August rather than cooler days of September.

This early harvest isn’t because this was a particularly hot year. In fact, the 2016 growing season was slightly below normal in temperature. Vintners use what’s called Degree Days to calculate the seasonal DSC_7121temperature.  This measurement is the number of hours the vineyard experiences above 60 degrees.  In a typical year we expect degree days to be somewhere around 2,100 hours.  This year we were below 2,000 hours.

So why are we harvesting so early? An early spring, occurring about 3 weeks earlier than normal, and warmer than normal temperature during the spring contributed to this early harvest. In fact, at the start of June, our degree days were already about 200 or 300 hours above normal. Added to that were little heat spikes at just the right time to push fruit through critical stages of ripening faster. All these factors resulted in a significantly earlier harvest. The last two years we have picked our first fruit the 17th of September. This year we may be picking our first fruit before the 10th. At this rate, we could be done harvesting by the end of September, compared with October 7th of last year.

Is this a global warming trend? Who knows. It was only 5 years ago, 2011, when we had our coldest growing season ever and finished harvesting on November 7th.

Cheers!

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Top 5 Festivals for Fall Wine Events

Harvest for the 2016 vintage is just around the corner and that means it’s almost time to celebrate. There are numerous festivals around Oregon that incorporate local sustainable farms, specialty chefs, and famous wineries. Come experience what Oregon Wine country is all about with these Top 5 Festivals for Harvest Wine Events.

Carlton Crush Harvest Festival – September 10, 2016

The Carlton Crush Harvest festival is a full day of activities for both kids and adults. It features complimentary morning yoga, live music and entertainment, Kids’ Watermelon Eating contest and Grape Stomp, and local art. Enjoy terrific food from a variety of restaurants such as The Horse Radish, and Ribslayer BBQ. Match the mouthwatering food with your choice of wine from more than 10 local wineries around the area. Entrance and Parking Free.  carltoncrush.com

 

Feast Portland – September 15-18, 2016blog 8 2016

Known as the “The best food festival in the country.” by Thrillist National, the “food festival to beat” by Tasting Table Feast Portland is entering it’s 5th year of inspiring the creative revolution of food and wine. Feast Portland offers a full weekend of hands on cooking and cocktail classes, wine tastings, brunch, BBQ cookouts, IPA tasting and once-in-a lifetime experiences. Since 2012 Feast Portland has donated over 200,000 dollars to end child hunger. Fees Vary. feastportland.com


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Wine Country Half Marathon- August 13, 2016

Do you love to run? Do you love wine? If you said yes to at least one of these questions, the Wine Country Half Marathon is perfect for you. The course takes you in the heart of Willamette wine country. It starts at Stoller Family Estate and finishes on Main Street in Carlton where you are greeted by the Wine and Music Festival. At the Festival there will be over 20 local wineries and live music along with the Lagunitas Brewing Company! Come join the summer fun! Fees Vary. destinationraces.com

Bounty of Yamhill County – August 26-28th, 2016blog 8 2016 2

In 2015, Bounty of Yamhill County placed #2 in USA TODAY 10 Best Readers’ Choice Award for Best General Food Festival. Get your wine adventure buddy and go horseback riding as your mode of travel to three Dundee Hill Wineries. Enjoy a sunrise air balloon ride followed by a sparkling brunch, do yoga and experience a wine tasting breakfast buffet, kayak in Oregon’s Willamette Valley River followed by a picnic lunch and tasting at Hyland estates, or even take part in an Eola-Amity hills vineyard hike. This weekend is full of adventure and wine! Fees Vary. bountyofyamhillcounty.com

 

blog 8 2016 3¡Salud! – November 11-12th, 2016

November 11th offers a variety of Cuvée Tasting and a Big Board Auction. A rare opportunity to taste over 40 wineries in Oregon, and meet the winemakers themselves. Each estate has made a specialty Cuvée just for this event and offers a barrel tasting that you cannot experience anywhere else. Saturday Night is the 25th Annual Wine Auction Celebration and Gala. The silent and live auction make a great opportunity to find rare library wines, winemaker experiences, unique travel packages, and to celebrate Pinot Noir. November 11: $275  November 12th, Gala and Auction: $500.  Saludauction.org
Continue to experience the Willamette Valley wines and stop by Youngberg Hill’s tasting room and try award winning Pinot Noirs. It is also the perfect time to sit on the deck, enjoy harvest and to stay at Youngberg Hill Inn and enjoy the view! Find us at: https://www.youngberghill.com

 

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Veraison in the Willamette Valley

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.

blog action photo tasting room sing

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