Youngberg Hill owners Wayne and Nicolette Bailey (back
row) with daughters (from left) Natasha, Aspen and Jordan. ##Photo provided

Name on a Bottle

Story of a family winery

By Natasha Bailey

To truly understand my family’s story, I must begin with my father and the Midwest. My dad, Wayne Bailey, grew up on a small farm on the Iowa-Nebraska border. Alongside my grandma, grandpa and two uncles, he was surrounded by fields of corn, cows, chickens, pigs and endless blue skies. Despite the trouble my dad would get into occasionally, like crashing a tractor through a fence or playing tricks on his mother, life was peaceful.

My dad was a farm boy, through and through, but after high school graduation, my grandpa insisted he go to college to earn a degree, the first of his family to do so. So, he put away his farmer’s boots and got his bachelor’s in engineering followed by an MBA in marketing. Things were looking up for my dad, and with a good head on his shoulders, he made himself a successful businessman. It was his consulting gig that ultimately ushered him back into farming. In the early ’90s, he spent two years in Burgundy. There, he learned how winemakers are, first and foremost, farmers. Bringing him back to his agricultural roots, my father fell in love with the wine industry.

He also fell for my mom, Nicolette, a spunky, first-generation American born in Chicago, with more fire in her belly than a dragon. It was nearly love at first sight and then, came me, Natasha. My sister, Jordan, was born three years later. We were a growing family, and while my dad was making good money consulting, he was away from home for days on end. Eventually, it became too much for him to bear; it was time for a change, a massive change. So, my parents made a life-altering decision, born from a dream taken root nearly a decade before in France. A dream which broke through the surface and saw the Oregon sunshine.

The new label proudly states the family name: Bailey, ##Photo provided

Moving to McMinnville in the Willamette Valley was like a fairy tale for me. My parents bought a property on a hill overlooking a magnificent valley, ringed by voluptuous hills and trimmed by distant mountain ranges. I was only four at the time, so my vocabulary was limited when I saw the vineyard with a B&B on the crest of the hill, but, to this day, I think I nailed it when I said, “It’s like a castle.” Youngberg Hill was truly a “kingdom” my family had adopted and, with the help of friends, neighbors and the McMinnville community, it grew even stronger.

Throughout the span of more than 16 years, my family planted another 12 acres in addition to the pre-existing 11, expanding estate plantings to Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay; my mother is responsible for the delicious inclusion of rosé, Pinot Blanc and sparkling, all made by my dad. The three major vineyard blocks are named after me, Jordan and my youngest sister, Aspen.

My dad’s thirst for knowledge allowed him to soak up all he could, learning about the terroir, winemaking, as well as organic, Biodynamic and, now, no-till farming. He’s spent nearly every day honing his craft and becoming an integral part of the McMinnville AVA winegrower association, the board of the Willamette Valley Winery Association and the Oregon Winegrowers Association Advocacy Committee, helping influence winemakers across the state.

Over the years, while my father worked hard in the vineyard, cellar and wine community, my mother had been busy creating one of the top, award-winning wedding sites in the state, not to mention one of the most beloved B&Bs.

Now, after almost two decades of hard work, dedication, stewardship and heart, a new brand has been born: Bailey Family Wines. My parents have truly earned putting their name on the bottle. Inside the Bailey Family Wines label you’ll find Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Grenache and Sparkling. They are the best wines in all of Oregon — of course, I am biased. 

Looking back, I am in awe of all my parents have accomplished in the short span of my life, and looking into the future with Bailey Family Wines and Youngberg Hill, working side by side, I’m even more excited for what is to come.

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