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Willamette Valley Wineries

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

The Heart of Burgundy or the Heart of Willamette Valley

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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2015 Vintage in the Willamette Valley

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!

Bottling 2014 Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley

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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The Basic Steps of Winemaking

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The basic steps of winemaking are a mix of chemistry and alchemy.  The process turns grapes into something which has sparked the imagination of many for generations.

 

As poet Robert Louis Stevenson said “Wine is bottled poetry.”

 

While winemaking is both an art and a skill, there are specific steps one must take in order to make something they can call wine.  Here are the very basic steps of winemaking:

1. Harvest perfectly ripe grapes.  Remember, you need about 600-800 grapes to get one bottle of wine.

2.  The grapes, once picked, must be inspected for quality.  You don’t want any rotten grapes or raisins sneaking in to your wine.  Additionally, the grapes must be destemmed.

3.  The wine grapes are crushed and either fermented in their own skins (if it’s a red wine you’re going for) or the skins are removed (for white wine).

4. Fermentation requires that yeasts grow and begin to eat the sugar contained in the grapes and make alcohol.  Many wineries help this process along by adding yeast cultures.

5. Any sediment is removed and the wine matures in barrels of whichever type the winemaker chooses. Some wines have very little sediment removed while others are as filtered out as possible.

6. The wine is bottled, corked, and labeled for your purchase!

This is a very, very stripped down version of winemaking.  Some of the biggest factors in winemaking are time, tasting, and testing.  All of these help a winemaker decide when to bottle, how much to filter, and more.

Here’s to the magic of winemaking!

 

Wine Country Thanksgiving

Wine Country ThanksgivingMore than 300 wineries and tasting rooms call the big and beautiful Willamette Valley home.  Find yourself surrounded with beautiful vistas of the Cascade Mountains and the Willamette Valley as you wind through the scenic backcountry roads on a tour of Oregon’s expansive wine country.  Fall is quickly coming to an end, and the holidays are fast approaching.  In wine country, that means another year of harvesting is done, and it’s time to kick back and celebrate wine country style.  November begins a special season in Oregon’s wine country; it ushers in a season of magical, quiet beauty to the Willamette Valley.  For the Willamette Valley wineries, November is a time to gather with friends, family, and guests alike, when they open their door to celebrate  another wine country Thanksgiving.  This year, kick off the holiday season right, and join Youngberg Hill Vineyards and other Oregon wineries in celebrating the 31st annual Wine Country Thanksgiving with special tastings, food pairings, live music, and more. Continue reading

Relax in Historic Downtown McMinnville

McMinnville History

In a world full of fast-paced technological advances, sometimes enjoying the slower pace of life is the perfect way to relax and rejuvenate while on vacation.  Step back in time with us when you visit Historic downtown McMinnville, a town that began as a thriving agricultural center, and which is now located in the heart of Oregon’s beautiful wine country.  McMinnville, where the 1800’s meets the 21st century, is located in Yamhill County and has been called “Oregon’s Favorite Mainstreet”.  Our charming city was founded in 1843 by William Newby, and got its economic start from a Gristmill, which was located at the end of its 3rd Street historic district near the present-day city library.  Stroll down downtown McMinnville’s historic district on 3rd Street, and you’ll encounter a variety of modern businesses that include lodging, art galleries, restaurants and wineries.  The buildings that these businesses occupy were mostly built between the years of 1885-1912, and have recently been renovated and updated.  McMinnville is a city that cherishes good food, good wine, and the time spent enjoying both with friends and family.  If this is what you have in mind for your relaxing getaway, then book your stay now at the Youngberg Hill Vineyards and Inn, located just minutes away from beautiful, historic downtown McMinnville. 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

Oregon biking Through Wine Country

Oregon bikingOregon is a cyclers paradise, with no shortage of biking destinations to choose from.  Oregon biking offers everything, from easy rides at sea level to exhausting assaults on 10,000-foot peaks.  Whether you ride a mountain bike, a road bike, or are looking for a cycling event, Oregon has something to offer you.  Explore one of Oregon’s Scenic Bikeways, a unique program to the state that showcases the very best of Oregon, all from the seat of a bike.  Travel down one of our nine bikeways for a scenic, historic, and cultural experience unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.  These routes have been reviewed, ridden and adopted by locals, in the hopes of helping you plan you’re own two-wheeled Oregon biking adventure.  With a diverse array of trails, Oregon’s Scenic Bikeways can accommodate any rider, from beginning to advanced, for day trips or extended, multi-day adventures.  Let Youngberg Hill be your base from which you explore the hundreds of miles of roads and trails in Oregon’s beautiful wine country, or simply stop in to Youngberg Hill during your Oregon biking adventure to experience the quiet beauty of the Willamette Valley. Continue reading

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