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Willamette Valley Vineyards

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.

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10 Reasons Why the Willamette Valley Wine Industry is so Sustainable

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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Top Three Wine Tours in the Willamette Valley

wine-tasting tourWhat are the top three ways to wine tour in Willamette Valley?  With the sheer number of fantastic Oregon wineries it is easy to become overwhelmed trying to decide where to visit, organizing and planning your route, and for safety reasons: who will be the designated driver. Fortunately, wine tours are a simple solution to what could be a complex adventure. Wine tours are a great way to see and experience The Oregon Wine Country easily without sacrificing time or energy on the logistics. All you need to do is sit back, relax, and focus on enjoying all that the Willamette Valley has to offer. The following are our favorite wine tour companies.

A vienyard Wine Tour

A Vineyard Wine Tour Led by Debra Kabarsky, A Vineyard Wine Tour designs a special tour just for you. Debra can create the perfect and most memorable day visiting up to four breathtaking, world class, Willamette Valley Wineries. With their Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van, A Vineyard Wine Tour will deliver you in style with first class door to door service and a fresh seasonal lunch. Enjoy the beauty and splendor of the Willamette Valley. Website: avineyardwinetour.com

Black Tie Tour

Black Tie Tours  Operated by Stefan Czarnicki, whose family moved to the valley in 1997 to drink wine, hunt mushrooms and open a restaurant (The Joel Palmer House – Dayton, OR). They’ve been showing off Oregon ever since. At Black Tie Tours, it’s Stefan’s passion to share the best that Oregon has to offer. Their vehicles are always clean. Their drivers are always courteous, knowledgeable and on-time. And they always strive to give the best experience that suits you. Oregon is the star – they are the lens. Take a peek!  Website: www.blacktietours.cominsider wine tour

 

Insider’s Wine Tours  Operated by John Swenson, Insider’s Wine Tours accommodates groups of all sizes for visits to small, boutique wineries and premier wineries, as well.  All tours utilize their executive cars for a private affair. Tours include, private winery visits with winemakers, complimentary dinner transportation, picnic lunches and water. Located in the heart of Oregon Wine Country, they have easy access to unique wineries!  Website: www.insiderswinetour.com

If you are curious about what vineyards to experience, visit Top 10 Vineyards in Oregon

 

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By: Molly Goldberg

Reasons to Visit the Willamette Valley for Summer

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There are many reasons to visit the Willamette Valley for summer and the first official day of summer is fast approaching.  This means the vines are growing full steam ahead, flowers are in full bloom, and the temperatures are generally perfect.  At least, that’s what it means here in the Willamette Valley.

Not only is our valley absolutely gorgeous this time of year, it’s also just a stone’s throw from many other local sites and “must see” locations.  So, whether you are traveling from nearby Portland or Seattle – or if you’re coming from much farther away, here are just a few reasons to visit us this summer:

– It’s the perfect time to tour wine country by bike.  The scenery is fantastic, the weather is temperate without being roasting, and our roads are bicycle friendly.

– Local vineyards boast new growth, grapes, flowers, and great wine.  We are often compared to Bordeaux, France.  The views from our tasting room and several of the guest rooms in our Inn will show you why.

– The Oregon Coast (one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon) is only an hour away.  Several more wonders such as Mount Hood, the Columbia River Gorge, and Crater Lake can be seen on a day trip from here.

– We have over 150 wineries and tasting rooms in our area alone.  Our winery and Inn keeps things friendly enough for a newbie to wine, but we have enough around us to satisfy the most discerning wine aficionado.

– The International Pinot Celebration happens in summer – and it’s an event not to be missed.

There is so much more to do and see at our winery and in our valley this spring and summer.

We are thrilled to see what else 2014 will bring!

 

The Oregon Difference

April 2014 - Blog 3 - Pic 1Pinot Noir was first planted here in the Willamette Valley since 1965.  Oregonians have been taking care of their land and keeping family wineries going ever since.

As custodians of the land, we hold ourselves to a very strict standard.  We work to follow holistic and biodynamic farming practices which allow the soil, the grapes, and nature to work in perfect harmony.  This produces a higher quality grape and wine.

Not only do Oregon farmers in general and Youngberg Hill in particular take environmental stewardship seriously – the state requires our wines be the best in the country as well.  Oregon’s wine labeling regulations are the strictest in the US. There are many reasons we work so hard to preserve our land while making some of the best Pinot Noir out there.

The Oregon Difference

1st: The Willamette Valley is not just a place to live.  It’s a slice of Tuscany transplanted into America.  With proper stewardship of our land, we will be able to enjoy this land for generations to come.

2nd: We are passionate about wine.  The beauty of young grapes ripening into that perfect harvest.  The joy harvesting our grapes at just the right moment.  The shared excitement of shaping that harvest into a reflection of our land, the seasons, the weather, and the year.  These are what we love – and it’s a passion we want to share with you.

3rd: Our home is a part of a greater heritage.  That of the Oregon wine country.  We share it with you in the form of our wine and in the hospitality of our Inn.  We want that heritage to continue through our family and this winery for many, many years to come.

The wines produced here at Youngberg Hill are a reflection of our home and the land on which we live and grow.  Here’s hoping you have a chance to enjoy a little slice of Oregon.  Cheers!

Willamette Valley Geology 101 | Youngberg Hill

dirt 2As farmers, we wine grape growers have a strong interest in the soils our vines are planted in. When we explain to guests the different characteristics of our soils, we are often asked how the soils got there and why they are so different from one another. During such a discussion with some recent guests, we were fortunate to have among them a geologist who was visiting.  He not only took a strong interest in our explanation, but had additional information to share as well.  For all of our “dirt-geek” readers, and for those who just want to learn more, his research points can be read in the following pdf .  We are thankful to have such interested and passionate guests who want to join the discussion about wine farming, and welcome your comments on the topic of soil in the Willamette Valley! Continue reading

Celebrate Fall in Oregon Wine Country

Oregon Wine country fallIf you’re interested in sampling some of the country’s finest Pinor Noir wines, then fall is a wonderful time to plan a trip to Oregon Wine Country. Throughout the fall months, the hillsides across the Willamette Valley are radiant with the colors of fall.  Deep purple grapes are set against a backdrop of the brilliant oranges, bright yellows, and deep reds associated with the harvest season.  Driving through the valley is stunning, only made better when you stop in our amazing tasting room to sample the wines produced here.

As we head into the fall months, Willamette Valley Wineries are busy getting ready for the harvest season.  If you’re looking for some harvest-related fun, then head to the 23rd annual Grape Stomp and Harvest Celebration at Willamette Valley Vineyards on September 21st and 22nd.  Visitors from all over the country compete in teams for the title, as well as to earn a trip to Santa Rosa, California for the World Grape Stomp Championships.  Come dressed in costumes, enjoy the live music, and get ready for some great family fun in Oregon Wine Country.  On Saturday, October 5th, spend the day with the North Willamette Vintners as they prepare for the 2013 Oregon wine harvest during the North Willamette Harvest Trail and Grand Tasting.  Here, you’ll learn all about the wine harvest, and enjoy a guided bus tour to three different Willamette Valley wineries for tastings and other harvest-related activities.  At Youngberg Hill Vineyards, we’re always looking for volunteers to help us with sorting during the fall harvest.  If you’re interested, please email us for more information. Continue reading

27th Annual International Pinot Noir Celebration

International Pinot Noir Celebration

With the end of July just around the corner, it’s time for Pinot Noir lovers to rejoice!  The 27th annual International Pinot Noir Celebration is upon us, from July 26th-28th at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon.  The three day event that makes up the International Pinot Noir Celebration, or IPNC for short, is a must-do event for new Pinot Noir lovers or master winemakers alike.  Join a variety of people from across the globe, including winemakers, northwest chefs, media, and other wine lovers as you explore the intricacies of Pinot Noir wines, savor unforgettable meals, and learn and celebrate with the biggest stars of the wine world.  Throughout your time at the International Pinot Noir Celebration, you’ll have a chance to taste Pinot Noir from Grand Cru Burgundy, Oregon, New Zealand, Australia, California, and other areas around the globe.  But this event is about more than just tasting great wines.  Here, you’ll have the chance to walk through Oregon vineyards with the grower who planted them, and unwind in the picturesque wine country of Willamette Valley, Oregon.  This surely is one of the most enjoyable weekends for wine lovers from all walks of life. Youngberg Hill Vineyards is located just 15 short minutes away from Linfield College and the IPNC venue, making this your perfect opportunity to stop in and tour one of Oregon’s premier wine country estates. Continue reading

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