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A LOOK AT OREGON WINE COUNTRY (Part 1)

Instead of a single California winery feature this month, I’d like to introduce you to a place where the Pinot Noir flows freely from bottles to glasses to your lips….Oregon Wine Country. This is Part 1 of several posts this month on the places, people and wine of Oregon.

Although I focus my reviews and writings primarily on California wines and wine country (because it’s what I know well and where I live) there are so many up and coming wine country areas across the United States that to only play in California is like locking yourself in a closet with a case of wine. It’ll be fun for a while, but what other tastes are out there? What different countryside’s can I see? Not to mention, you will eventually run out of wine! Oregon wine country is a west coast adventure that you MUST throw into your annual wine country vacations. As a Napa girl at heart; I can’t believe I’d say this, but skip California one year and plan a trip to Oregon. I’m very glad I was able to visit a few wineries and experience so many Oregon wines while I was at the 5th annual Wine Bloggers Conference that was held in Portland this year. It has opened my eyes to a “wine world” that I want to go back to over and over. The following is a “Featured Highlight” of ONE of the many special wines and places I got to visit while in Oregon last month.

YOUNGBERG HILL VINEYARDS

A must go to if you are visiting the Willamette Valley wine country. Youngberg Hill Vineyards is currently utilizing biodynamic farming practices and is certified by the Oregon Wine Board as Sustainable Vineyards. Wayne Baily, owner and winemaker, has a personal hand in his vineyards; his winery; wines themselves and the Inn that he and his wife run on the property. It’s a family business with Wayne, his wife and three young daughters working it year to year. Simply put, a “Grand” place to see and visit and Wayne and his family are “Grand” and “Special” people. It shows in their hospitality, vineyards and especially in their wines. Their website is beautiful. Look it over for more detail when planning your trip and let me say this…all of the talk about their “views” from up on the hill and their “Pinot Noir” tasting amazing…are TRUE!

Below, samples of the views, which can hardly do it justice from a photo, but you get the idea!

The wines… As many wines as I tasted in Oregon and they were all simply wonderful wines… (Not a bad one in the bunch!) Youngberg Hill Pinot Noirs and Pinot Blanc were simply at the top of my list. I’ve never tasted anything quite like Wayne’s Pinot Noirs ~ each one I tried was a story in a glass. It spoke to you in that special way wine can and each one was different and unique. None of them “overlapped” as some lines of wine can. (They start tasting like each other so to speak) My first taste of Pinot Blanc (which we do not see in California) was amazing! I tried a few others after Youngberg Hill and although good….Youngberg Hill 2011 Pinot Blanc is the way to go! Crisp, fruity and beautifully balanced acidity that paired heavenly with a cold gazpacho soup we had for lunch.

If having to pick my favorite Youngberg Hill Vineyards Pinot Noir (and mind you this is hard because they are all that good!) I would say it is the Jordan 2008 Pinot Noir. I coined this one as “Thanksgiving in a Glass”. When you taste it, you’ll know exactly why! Delicate fruit of cherry and cranberry with just the right amount of tartness. Mid palate you get hints of spice, nutmeg and vanilla and the finish is long, smooth, flowing velvet. Serve it up with a slow roasted turkey and you have “Thanksgiving in a Glass”! Don’t let the fun descriptor take anything away from the glamour of this Pinot Noir. Simply put…it’s one of the best Pinot Noir’s I’ve ever had. (SIX BOTTLES on my rating scale…what? It only goes to FIVE?)
Well done Wayne!

The beauty that surrounds you on top of the hill, the Oregon hospitality that comes with it and the most amazing Pinot Noir you’ll ever have out of Oregon can only be described as Youngberg Hill Vineyards. I truly mean it when I tell you it’s a MUST visit place when in Willamette Valley wine country. This California girl will never be the same because of it…..and Oregon Pinot Noir has a whole new meaning to me and place in my heart.

Cheers!

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