Life can be filled with pleasant surprises when you are open to new experiences. Such was the case with our visit to Youngberg Hill in the Willamette Valley.
As we departed Portland, we questioned why we were leaving the vibrant city and its myriad of wonderful restaurants to drive fifty miles to the tiny town of McMinnville. Although we already knew that Oregon’s Willamette Valley produces some of the best Pinot Noir wine in the world, we speculated as to what we would do in Oregon’s wine country during the rain. Our doubts abated as the rain stopped and the fog magically lifted to reveal a breathtaking scene of mossy vegetation and hidden vineyards. This is when we knew that we were in for something special during our stay at Youngberg Hill.
Our Stay at Youngberg Hill
Youngberg Hill is a winery that is also a luxury bed and breakfast. (Or is it a luxury bed and breakfast that is also a winery?) Located at the top of a verdant hill, Youngberg Hill provided us with a welcoming sense of grandeur that started at the bottom of the slope and grew as we ascended to the top.
Nathan Muti gave us the grand tour as he walked us to our room. He showed us the dining room replete with bottomless coffee, tea, water, soft drinks, beer and cookies. He made sure to point out various details in the recently renovated 1989 building and let us peek into the nine unique rooms so that we could see multiple views of the property.
Entering the Mariafeld Suite, we breathed in deeply as we soaked in the views of the valley and vineyards through the windows. Then we plopped onto the comfy king bed and plotted when we could use the fireplace later that evening. Before leaving, we took a few minutes to admire the stylish details that contribute to a luxurious room that is true to the region – a headboard constucted of old wine barrels and a bathroom sink forged from recycled bottles.
After dropping off our bags and checking out the room, we headed directly to the tasting room. The tasting room is open to the public from 10 am to 4 pm each day plus an additional hour for hotel guests who come from all over the world.
Youngberg Hill was awarded winery license no. 49 from the state of Oregon, with the original vines planted back in 1989. Owner Wayne Bailey bought the property in 2003 and has embraced the “beauty of farming” considering wine making to be a “labor of love.” Bailey grew up on an Iowa farm and later lived in Chicago and Burgundy before moving to the Willamette Valley. While he poured samplings of five wines from vintage years ranging from 2009 to 2013, he explained each wine, focusing on the grapes, soil, climate and aging.
After the tasting, we splurged and bought a bottle of Youngberg Hill’s 2013 Cuvée, a young but striking and fruity Pinot Noir. We picked our spot on the hotel’s wrap-around balcony so that we could soak up the view of the lush, hilly scenery while we sipped on the rich and silky red wine. Seriously, can life get any better than this?
All that was left to our day was dinner and relaxation back in the room. We had needed a break from our exhausting but fun North American road trip, and Youngberg Hill was the ideal spot to meet our needs
Tasting Tip: There are many well-regarded restaurants in McMinnville. However, consider venturing to nearby Blue Goat Restaurant in Amity for casual food, much of it cooked in the huge wood-fire oven designed by Kiko Denzer.
Blue Goat Restaurant is located at 506 S Trade St, Amity, OR 97101, United States.
Youngberg Hill’s dining room features a communal table that comfortably seats eight, plus additional two-top tables for couples looking for a more private breakfast experience. Our breakfast was two courses, starting with refreshing rosemary melon salad and ending with salted caramel french toast served with sausage links. The hearty morning meal gave us a good base for the wine tastings that lay ahead in our day.
Youngberg Hill is located at 10660 Southwest Youngberg Hill Road, McMinnville, OR 97128, United States. Reservations can be made over the phone (503-472-2727) or on the hotel’s website.
Wine Tasting in the Willamette Valley
We couldn’t leave the Willamette Valley without tasting more wine. Our favorite tasting spots were the historic The Eyrie Vineyards and The Carlton Winemakers Studio. Both offered different wine tasting experiences, with the similarities being friendly education and fantastic wine.
Located right in McMinnville and founded by David Lett in the 1960’s, The Eyrie Vineyards is one of the region’s original wineries that embraced the Pinot Noir grape as essential to the region’s terroir. During our visit at the region’s pioneer winery, we shared an exploration flight, which allowed us to try seven different Dundee Hills AVA wines including a limited production release and a 1990 library vintage. The cost of the tasting was $20.
Eyrie Vineyards is located at 935 NE 10th Avenue, McMinnville, OR 97128, United States.
The Carlton Winemakers Studio is a hip tasting spot that also functions like a cooperative for 14 smaller producers. The sun-drenched tasting room is modern and comfortable with an expansive counter and large windows. Christine Andrus guided us through the tasting process with colorful stories about each wine and a personal tour of the LEEDS certified facility. We shared a $15 wine flight and bought a bottle of crisp rosé to enjoy later.
The Carlton Winemakers Studio is located at 801 N Scott Street, Carlton, OR 97111, United States.
Tasting Tip: After tasting wines at The Carlton Winemakers Studio, stop for lunch at The Horse Radish. The menu includes local cheese and charcuterie as well as freshly made soup, sandwiches, salads and quiche.
The Horse Radish is located at 211 W Main Street, Carlton, OR 97111, United States.
We left Youngberg Hill more rested than when we arrived. Filled with happy hearts, full bellies and wine for the road, we were fully energized for our return trip to Portland.
We thank the fine folks at Youngberg Hill and Select Registry for facilitating our stay for the purpose of this review.