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  • Writer's pictureNeil & Sue Shay

Bluebird Hill Gives Thanks!

The summer has wound down, all of our 2016 wines have been put to bed for their winter slumber and we are now looking forward to two great weekends of wine tasting at the winery! Since opening over the Memorial Day Weekend in May, we’ve had the pleasure of hosting an incredible group of visitors, traveling from both nearby and distant locales to meet us and taste our wines. We’re extremely grateful for the turnout at the winery during our tasting room hours this summer. It would be a very special thing for us to have you make plans to visit Bluebird Hill Cellars during the Pre- and Post-Thanksgiving wine tastings we will be offering.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a month since our last blog post, but it’s true! As of the end of September, we had harvested all of our red wine grapes and we spent the next few weeks bringing in several tons of white wine grapes. The processing of both the reds and whites has kept us super-busy during October. First of all, we have to comment that the quality of the fruit we have processed this year has been really exceptional; nicely ripe and well balanced, with ideal flavors, sugar content, tannins, and acidity. Even in previous "good years", it seems as if some of those qualities were not quite in step with the others and maybe an adjustment of acidity or sugar content would be needed. However, with this year’s fruit, everything seemed to be in perfect harmony and we are so excited to be working with our new wines, taking the newly-fermented wines moving them into barrels and doing all of the other chores needed to bring this great 2016 fruit to bottle in 2017 and 2018. We have a sense that 2016 is going to be a hallmark year for the Willamette Valley.

We had some wonderful recognition from the Oregon Wine Press this fall. In September,

OWP reporter Neil Zawicki visited us in Alpine to obtain all the info he needed for his article: “Feathering a New Nest”, which was published in the October issue of OWP. Following his visit, we submitted our 2014 Zenith Vineyard Pinot noir to the OWP call out for submissions, in this case they were seeking 2014 Pinot noirs to feature in their November issue ‘Cellar Selects’ feature. We’re still pinching ourselves, because our Zenith PN was selected as one of seventeen wines described in the November issue. We’ve been told there were around 200 Oregon wines submitted for consideration, so we’re really honored and humbled to be selected! The Zenith PN is still in stock and going to be part of a holiday gift package that we’re offering during the Pre- and Post-Thanksgiving Open House weekends. You can also order this wine from us by phone or online ordering.

Last week, we had our first off-site winemaker dinner, hosted by chef Brett Rauber of Campbell House Inn and Restaurant in Eugene. The Campbell House Inn, if you don’t know, is a boutique hotel in the historic district of downtown Eugene and they have a tradition of offering occasional winemaker dinners along with their day to day operation as an upscale inn. The meal was fantastic! Sue, Neil, and Bobby hosted over 30 attendees as we wound our way through Pinot gris, Chardonnay, White Wine Blend, Pinot noir, and dessert wine against an incredible dinner which included salmon cakes, shrimp, braised short ribs, and bourbon-blueberry compote. When Bret released the dinner announcement, he sold out in two days and was left holding a list of two dozen folks who are now first in line for our second dinner at the Campbell House.

Throughout all the winemaking, we’ve been dodging what has turned out to be Oregon’s wettest October since record keeping began around 1940. If you don’t know, the average for October where we are is about 3+ inches of rain – at the time of writing this post with two days to go, we’re already at about 11-12 inches! Fortunately, this has not impacted our winemaking activities, but it already has set us back a little bit out in the vineyard. we still need to set end posts and run wire in the south (front yard) block.

As you can see on the website, we’re open for two Thanksgiving weekends, the weekend before and the weekend after, both weekends we’re open , 12:00 – 5:00 Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We will have a brand new local food cart onsite Saturday & Sunday both weekends and music both Saturdays. We hope you can take some time to visit us over the Thanksgiving weekends, especially if you have relatives or friends visiting, we’d love to have you think about bringing your group to Bluebird Hill!

As traffic slows down over the winter, we’re ending regular tasting room hours until the spring but we are always available for tastings by appointment. We’re also planning to offer special events over the winter, either at the winery or other locations, so keep your eyes peeled for wine dinners, trivia nights, and other special tastings and events!!

At this time of Thanksgiving celebration our thoughts turn gratefully to you with warm appreciation. Our best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving. Neil & Sue

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