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  • Writer's pictureNeil & Sue Shay

2018 Wrap Up

With the official start of winter at hand, we’re realizing that it’s been too long since we posted about the goings on here at Bluebird Hill, so here we are, reporting in...

Fermentation: As we mentioned in the harvest update, we processed 15 tons of fruit this fall – almost exactly half from our vineyard, and half from our various vineyard partners, Zenith, Walnut Ridge, Sunrise, and Aurora. Give or take a little bit here and there, from the 2018 harvest, we have 18 barrels of Pinot noir, four barrels of Chardonnay, two barrels of Pinot gris, plus Chardonnay, Pinot gris, Viognier and Rosé in steel tanks. For sure, 2018 will be our biggest production year yet.

We set up a new system this fall for controlling temperature of fermentations, especially for the case of our white wines. We were able to keep the fermentation temperature well below 65°F for all of our white wine fermentations. These lower temperatures help preserve fruitiness and volatile aromatics, desirable in white wines, and after tasting our 2018 whites, we really think they are going to be outstanding. We are prepped up to blend our Viognier and Chardonnay together for the 2018 Duology; the Duology, Rosé, and Pinot gris will be the first 2018’s to get bottled in the late winter or early spring of 2019.

Barrel Tastings: Also new for this fall is a series of Barrel Room Tastings Neil and Nick have been leading. Although we always love to take guests into the barrel room for a few sneak tastes of wine aging in the barrel, these tastings are guided explorations, allowing tasters to compare the different aromas, flavors and mouthfeel of barrel vs. tank fermented white wines. Then, moving to the reds, we are tasting wine made from different Pinot noir clones, different vineyards, and different barrel effects. These tastings are on Sundays at 2:00 pm, an advance RSVP is required, and there is a fee for the tasting, except it is free for wine club members. We will continue to offer these in the winter months of 2019 (January to March) with an advanced RSVP or appointment, for groups of four or more.

Wine Dinners: We had two wine dinners at Corvallis Country Club the past two weeks (December 7 and 14). Both dinners featured a great six-course menu with a different Bluebird Hill wine paired with each plate. About 90 people attended the two dinners, and it appeared to Neil and Sue that all had a good time!

Awards: We received some great news from noted wine expert James Suckling (, who recently tasted and scored 400 Oregon wines. We submitted four wines, and received four pretty good scores, including a 92 point rating for our 2016 Chardonnay Reserve! The year started with news from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, and included other awards from Newport and Cannon Beach events, among others. We’re glad for the recognition and hope to have more of the same in 2019! Here’s the full list of awards from 2018:

2016 Pinot gris 2018 Savor NW Silver Medal

2017 Pinot gris 2018 Oregon Wine Competition Silver Medal

2018 SIP NW Magazine “Judges’ Pick”

2016 Chardonnay 2018 SF Chronicle Gold Medal

2018 Newport Seafood & Wine Festival Gold Medal

2018 Savor NW Gold Medal

2018 Rated “Excellent” by Wine Press Northwest

2018 Oregon Wine Competition Gold Medal

2018 Wine Enthusiast Magazine: 90 Points

2018 James Suckling: 88 Points

2016 Reserve 2018 James Suckling: 92 Points


2015 Willamette Valley 2018 SF Chronicle Bronze Medal

Pinot noir 2018 Savor NW Silver Medal

2018 Wine Enthusiast Magazine: 88 Points

2016 Willamette Valley 2018 James Suckling: 88 Points

Pinot noir

2016 Estate Reserve 2018 James Suckling: 90 Points

Pinot noir

2016 Riesling 2018 Savor NW Bronze Medal

Upcoming Events: Here is the list of our upcoming events. We hope to see you at our tastings locally, upstate, and on the coast!!

Sat & Sun Dec 22-23: Ugly Holiday Sweater Weekend

Sun Dec 23: Bluebird Hill Cellars 2017 & 2018 Barrel Tasting (Advance RSVP required)

Sun Dec 30: Bluebird Hill Cellars 2017 & 2018 Barrel Tasting (Advance RSVP required)

Wed Jan 9: Wine Tasting @ Marriott Corvallis

Sun Jan 20: Chili Cookoff @ Bluebird Hill (Advance RSVP for entries required!!)

Fri-Sat Jan 25-26: First Taste Oregon @ State Fairgrounds, Salem

Wed Feb 6: Wine Tasting @ Marriott Corvallis

Thurs-Sun Feb 21-24: @ Newport Wine and Seafood Festival

Thurs-Sun March 7-10: @ Savor Cannon Beach

Fri-Sun March 8-10: @ SIP McMinnville

Wed March 13: Wine Tasting @ Marriott Corvallis

Fri-Sun Apr 26-28: Astoria Crab, Seafood & Wine Festival

Event details can be found here.

Goodbye Nick Cheatham! Our blog this month winds up with some bittersweet news. Our friend and coworker, Nick Cheatham, is leaving the valley, to move back home to eastern Oregon and has accepted a job at a winery in Idaho. We first met Nick when he was a student at OSU, working on his BS in the wine program. He interned with us for a the winter and spring terms of 2016, and graduated in the spring of 2017. In 2017, he worked the harvest at Adelsheim Winery in Newberg, and then worked the late fall and winter with us at Bluebird Hill. Nick then went to New Zealand for their 2018 harvest (our early spring), and came back to Bluebird Hill in May. Nick has been a big part of our work at Bluebird Hill, and we are going to miss his versatility, as he knows a lot about both the vineyard and the winery. Also, despite his youth, Sue and Neil appreciate Nick’s love for classic rock. Whenever we would have a bottling crew set up to work, we could always count on Nick to set up a play list from the 70’s and 80’s to keep us entertained and happy! Your big smile will be missed, Nick, best of luck to you always!!

The tasting room will be open noon to 5 pm for two more weekends. Then, we are closed until springtime, with the exception of selected events, wine dinners, and festivals (see our calendar of events!). As well, we are always available to host you and your friends, relatives, and coworkers in our tasting room by appointment. Just give us a call at (541) 424-2478, email or book online to set things up!

As 2018 comes to a close, we want to thank all our friends, old and new, for making 2018 a great year at Bluebird Hill! We are grateful for your friendship and patronage, and look forward to more of the same in the new year! Happy Holidays to All – and hoping you have some time to relax, spend time with family and friends, enjoy a good glass of wine (or two!), and maybe even lay back and enjoy a long winter’s nap.

Cheers, Neil & Sue Shay

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