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Youngberg Hill Vineyard, Oregon – Wayne Bailey

April 21, 2012

Why do you do what you do?  I love wine. I enjoy learning with every vintage and continue to strive to make the best wine possible.

How do you do it?  I grew up on a farm in Iowa and have always enjoyed that work, so evolving into growing grapes organically and biodynamically was a natural for me. To make authentic wines that are true to their origin is my passion.

What obstacles have you overcome? I think the biggest obstacles are all man-made, whether it is chemicals that were once used on the vineyard or around the winery, tor climate change, or all the unnatural elements put into wines.

What disasters have you survived? In 2005, we had a severe mildew issue that pretty much took over the vineyard and as a result we left most of the fruit on the ground. In 2010, the migratory birds flew in and took about 30% of the crop.

Are you happy with this work? Absolutely, I never get up in the morning and think about having to go to work. I just get up and start living.  I work twice as hard and twice as many hours as I ever have, and am enjoying it twice as much.

Wine is a wonderful gift from nature. The vine sends its roots deep into the living earth. They struggle in search of water and nutrients, in communion with the unseen but vital world of soil microbes. Above the ground, the vineyard teems with life. A large community of grasses, herbs, and wildflowers supports a complex array of insect life, and the vine, with its verdant canopy, sends out its flowers and produces a crop of grapes. The attentive grower watches over this process and almost feels the energy of life in the air, tending the vineyard sensitively and with a light hand. During the warm days of summer the grapes ripen to the point that when the seasons begin to change and autumn is arriving, it is time to begin the harvest, not too soon and not too late. There is a time for everything. Listen to the vineyard, and it will speak to you; you will know when to act. The grower knows that these grapes contain within them the full potential of the wine that is to come; it is the winegrower’s job merely to bring out that potential, to let the story of this place – the vineyard- be told with clarity in the wine. But it is an important and skilled job nonetheless. In the cellar, the winegrower works sensitively, doing all that is necessary to avoid failure but being careful not to do too much lest the fragile essence of terroir be lost.  Patience and restraint are required in equal measure.  Leaving the wine to tell about its place is almost an act of faith; the grower allows the whisper of the vineyard to steer the direction of the wine. Finally, the wine is bottled.  It tells a story, first of the place, and second of that year.  It is unique.  It is special.

This is the story of authentic wine.  This is a story worth telling.  It resonates with people’s desire for truth, and it is not told often enough in this age of industrial wine production.  We tend to accept that cheap wines need to be tricked up, manipulated, and adulterated in order to make them palatable to modern consumers, but do they really need to be?  Would it be disastrous to make large quantities of inexpensive wines more naturally, avoiding faults but allowing them to taste of where they came from, even if their flavors were simpler and less concentrated than those of their more expensive terroir wine cousins?






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