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  • Writer's pictureNeil & Sue Shay

2019 Year in Review

Updated: Dec 29, 2019

Thanksgiving is gone, and now the December holidays are here and we’re getting ready for the New Year, so for all those out there, this blog post is going to be our 2019 year in review. All in all, we feel like we’ve had pretty good year, and we are SO grateful for all of the great friends we have made here at Bluebird Hill since the tasting room opened in May of 2016. We’ve celebrated some anniversaries of sorts, 2019 was our 5-year anniversary from our first commercial production, which was the 2014 Zenith Vineyard Pinot noir, some 20 months or so, before the tasting rooms first opening, in May of 2016. This fall completes our first four years of operating the tasting room here in Monroe/Alpine.

So thank you, good friends, and thank you to everyone who took time during the past year to help lend a hand when needed, especially during the most unique harvest of 2019! You guys and gals know who you are, we’re not going to be able to list you all here now, but we would not have been able to do it without you! To the many of you that helped in so many ways, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts - - From bottling, to harvest, the helpers on the crush pad during all conditions (and we had everything this fall, including a hailstorm right in the middle of a crush!), the hanging of bird netting, and the coiling it all up after harvest, thank you and happy holidays!

Thinking about the time since we first opened, it is hard to imagine the growth we have seen, in production - of both estate grapes, and wine – of guest visits, and sales to wine shops and restaurants. Early this summer we contracted with our first distributor, BitCork, and in the late fall we signed with a shipping service that will now allow Bluebird Hill wines to go to at least 40 different states. Just comparing 2018 to 2019, we picked 7.5 tons and processed 15 tons of fruit in 2018; in contrast, this year, even with the bird pressure, we picked 10.5 tons of estate fruit and processed a total of 17 tons. (We were, by the way supposed to receive two more tons, Viognier that never made it, our supplier wound up giving away a lot of fruit to the birds this fall... bummer!).

So the status at the winery is as follows: right now, we have 22 full barrels, and a bit more in tank, of 2019 Pinot noir that has finished both primary fermentation and the malolactic conversion, so we have been able to move all of this wine into our cooler barrel room for the winter. Still to go, some three months after harvest, are four barrels of Chardonnay, that we are waiting on to complete the malolactic conversion. They are close, but not completely done, so we are keeping an eye on them and hope to move them into the barrel room very soon! All told, the barrel room is bursting at the seams, we have now 42 barrels in there (2018 and 2019 combined), with several large tanks of 2019 white wine, and four more stainless steel barrels we are keeping outside in cool of winter, holding our 2019 rosé, when the four Chard barrels go into the barrel room, we’ll be right about at an even 50 barrels of wine, plus the tanks! The aisle walkways in the barrel room are tight, and we had to go ‘three high’ in a couple of spots to get all the barrels in there! The next steps are to get some wine OUT of the barrel room and into the bottle. This will include the 2017 Syrah, Syrah/Pinot Red Blend, and a brand-new dessert wine, made with Pinot gris and a very unique batch of Rainier Cherry wine.

It turned out that 2019 was our best and biggest award year yet. In 2017 and 2018, we started sending more of our wine out to be judged and scored, as a way to try to get some impartial opinions on our wine. Some of the 2019 highlights included:

San Francisco Chronicle: Gold medal (2017 Chardonnay)

First Taste, Salem: Gold medal (2017 Pinot gris)

Portland Seafood and Wine: Best of Show White (2016 Reserve Chardonnay)

Portland Seafood and Wine: Double Gold (2016 Estate Pinot noir)

Newport Seafood and Wine: Gold medal (2016 Pinot noir)

Oregon Wine Experience: Double Gold (2016 WV Pinot noir)

Oregon Wine Press: Cellar Select (2017 WV Pinot noir)

Wine Press Northwest: Double Platinum (2016 WV Pinot noir)

Double Platinum (2016 Estate Pinot noir)

And If anyone is interested to read some of the published information, you can find them here:

So again, thank you, good friends, we hope to see you soon! Our calendar of events for the winter and spring is listed below. Otherwise, the tasting room is open by appointment, if you have a small group you would like to bring out, just send us a note or ring us up, we’ll figure out a date and time.

December 28, 2019 Bluebird Hill Cellars wine tasting at Liquor Outlet, Salem

January 17, 2020 Bluebird Hill Cellars wine tasting at Woodburn Liquor, Woodburn

January 19, 2020 Chili Cook-off at Bluebird Hill Cellars

January 22, 2020 Bluebird Hill Cellars wine tasting at Courtyard by Marriott, Corvallis

January 24-25, 2020 Bluebird Hill Cellars at First Taste Oregon, Salem

January 31 & February 1, 2020 Bluebird Hill Cellars at Portland Seafood & Wine Festival, Portland

February 20-23, 2020 Bluebird Hill Cellars at Newport Seafood & Wine Festival, Newport

February 26, 2020 Bluebird Hill Cellars wine tasting at Courtyard by Marriott, Corvallis

March 7, 2020 Bluebird Hill Cellars at Downtown Corvallis Wine Walk, Corvallis

March 11, 2020 Bluebird Hill Cellars wine tasting at Courtyard by Marriott, Corvallis

March 13-14, 2020 Bluebird Hill Cellars at Savor Cannon Beach, Cannon Beach

March 13-15, 2020 Bluebird Hill Cellars at McMinnville Wine & Food Classic-SIP, McMinnville

April 11-12, 2020 Annual Spring Open House at Bluebird Hill Cellars

April 24-26, 2020 Bluebird Hill Cellars at Astoria Warrenton Crab, Seafood & Wine Festival, Astoria

May 9-10, 2020 Mothers Day Weekend at Bluebird Hill Cellars

May 22-25, 2020 Memorial Weekend Open House at Bluebird Hill Cellars

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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