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Wayne Bailey, Youngberg Hill Vineyards

Wayne Bailey, Winemaker Youngberg Hill Vineyards

Wayne Bailey, Youngberg Hill Vineyards

BIO – Wayne Bailey, a farmer at heart, learned about wines in Burgundy and founded Youngberg Hill Vineyards with partner Nicolette in 2003 to pursue his love of land and non-interventionist grape growing. You’re invited to contact Wayne directly for more info, interviews, quotes, and story ideas: 

What’s the ONE THING most unique, authentic, and memorable about your winery brand?

I have to talk about our farming practices, our family, and my time in France. Growing up on a farm in Iowa, I saw firsthand how chemical farming was destroying the soil and a balanced ecosystem. Living and working in Bourgogne for two years – just as they were coming out of chemical farming and working back towards organic/biodynamic farming – I saw how growing could be done differently. That became my motivation not just for making wine, but for growing grapes responsively and making a difference in the world. We are now showing other farmers that grow grass seed and hazelnuts how to do the same.

Describe how and what you’d do with your winemaking career or winery business if you were not constrained. Sky’s the limit!

Wow! Two things come to mind. One, I would spend a lot more time and money in the vineyard replacing plants as needed; put in irrigation to offset the impacts we are starting to see from climate changes; revamp and modify trellising for the same reason, and other more subtle changes to address the effects we are seeing from warmer summers and more extreme weather incidences.

Two, make many more small batches bottlings. To be commercially viable, you can’t make 25 or 50 cases of a unique wine. You have to make enough to provide a selection to all your guests. That takes blending barrels together, etc. to make large enough offerings. But there are some very unique characteristics in certain ferments and/or certain barrels that would be fabulous to keep separate to taste, share, and age and enjoy in any given vintage.

What is the One Wine most emblematic of your brand and/or winemaking style? Tell us its story.

Well, that would have to be the Jordan Block Pinot Noir primarily because year after year the fruit of that block reminds me of characteristics that I fell in love with in Givery-Chambertain. To me, those characteristics are what make Pinot Noir so spectacular and age-worthy. Click here to see this Wine Review.

Bonus Question – What’s the one thing people would be surprised to learn about you? 

I am an engineer and hold an MBA from the University of Chicago.

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