Travel Tuesday: Youngberg Hill, Oregon

We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal and then leap in the dark to our success. - Henry David Thoreau

Wayne and Nicolette took a leap of faith when they purchased Youngberg Hill in 2003, overhauling the entire estate including vineyard management, winemaking, tasting room, and hospitality area. What they have discovered is a fantastic success with their fantastic Wine Country Inn [Bed and Breakfast] and gorgeous wedding venue which is attached to a real working winery, which is producing some mighty elegant Pinot Noir, just a short drive outside of the town of McMinnville in Oregon.

As many of you know, I spent the better part of a long weekend visiting with the great folks at Youngberg Hill and other wonderful producers who call the Oregon Wine Country home. Mrs. Cuvee and I were guests of Youngberg Hill and stayed in one the Inn's fantastic eight rooms. The views from the 2nd-floor rooms are quite stunning [see picture below]. Each morning you awake with nearly a full panoramic view of the vineyards, the road leading up to the house and on a clear day you see for miles and miles. Be sure to say hi to their very friendly [out-door] cat Truffle. 

In tasting a good many of their Pinot Noir offerings, I encountered two very different styles, from two very distinctive terroirs. This comes from an estate vineyard, farmed organically [Salmon Safe Certified] and biodynamically, and legally in conversion to biodynamic certification. 

The wines hailing from Natasha’s Block which consists of 6.6 estate acres with a southeast facing; I found the nose brimming with notes of rich earth, oak, cut black tea and not fully ripe cherry. Finely integrated acidity makes way for tastes of dark cherry and plums, which are quickly enveloped in oak and savory herbs, pushing fruit to the background. I found the finish long and caressing. 

Regarding the wines from their Jordan block, it’s an entirely different experience. I would dare to say that if you have a California Pinot Noir palate, one which tends to favor wines with a broader, more approachable mouthfeel, than the Jordan Block wines are for you. The Jordan Block sits on four fog-kissed estate acres facing South East at a steeper slope than the Natasha and is described as a more Burgundian in style.

Frankly, I was all about the Jordan block, when I first sampled the 2008 Jordan, which sells for $40. My first thoughts were, alright here we go, this is what I’m talking about. The next wine which really grabbed my attention, was the 2008 Jordan Block Barrel Select, one which oddly is not on their website, but it sells for $65. I scored this wine 93 points.

But let there be no doubt, in my opinion, this wine is worth every penny. It's wine you could cellar for many years, but why would you when it’s drinking ever so nicely right now. I scored two of these wines for myself to take home. For those who are curious about the clones here you go; 60% Pommard and 40% Wadenswil on American Root Stock. 

The 2008 Barrel Select has the rich and charming fruit and a plethora of bright cherry and cranberry [not tart] concentration; it was indeed what I was expecting from this site, but not from this vintage. You’ll find more red fruited character over the darker fruits; the wine has a succulent texture and lovely finish. Honestly what's not to like?

After purchasing the wine the morning before my departure, from the assistant winemaker [Jess] and chef, he remarked about my apparent love of oak. Ha, I guess that fits 'guilty as charged' as some may say, but wait a minute not so fast there Chef. 

Let me be clear, I do love the judicious use of oak, and I firmly believe the abuse of oak by some, should not lead to an automatic knee-jerk reaction to even the limited use oak interaction or even toast levels. Honestly, folks, I think that deep down we all know it's about balance, too much of anything, tends not to be a good thing; whether it's in the vineyard or the crush-pad, balance is everything.

About my experiences at the Inn, Wow is the operative word. This fantastic place is quiet and cozy, perfect for those seeking to get away from it all. Once you arrive, you may find yourself greeted my mouth-watering glasses of Pinot Noir, you arrive at a comfy, well-appointed room, with no TV. 

The shower warms up real fast, the Wi-Fi works amazingly well and you just 15 minutes from McMinnville, which has many tasty spots to eat. Whether you want a pub-like experience [McMenamins] or you want to dial it up a notch or two [Thistle], there’s something for everyone.

When it comes time for breakfast [9:00 am], it’s just the right amount to get your day started and the custom roasted coffee will you happily and fully caffeinated in mere moments. The Inn you will find in located right in the thick of it all makes for a fun jumping off point or as I like to call it a base of operations for scouring the country-side for Pinot Noir to take back home.

By the way; if you end up like I did [and it’s not hard to do] with two full cases of wine, you can either have them shipped home $45 for basic ground or if you played it smart and chose to fly Southwest, where you can check those cases for little extra out of pocket. I purchased two case boxes in town [$24], but in truth, they only hold nine bottles. If you want it to fit 12, it has to be the standard Bordeaux bottle to fit correctly, and you will not find any Pinot Noir in that style of bottle.

If you’d like to stay with them, the off-season is a great time to do so, in fact, it's snowing there at the moment. In the off-season, the winemakers have much more time to speak with you, as well as the tasting room staff, as there are few other folks up during the very rainy time of year. Okay, folks, I know it has been quite a while since my last post, but I hope you enjoyed today’s article and will give the wines from Youngberg Hill a swirl for yourself until next time sip long and prosper cheers!


It looks like a good tour around Oregon and I think that the photography of the natural sites which you have shown can really attract people from all over the world to visit this delightful location.
Will Eyer said…
Thanks so much, Oregon is a great place to experience wine culture cheers!

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