• Neil & 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 (www.jamessuckling.com), 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