First Things First
We are chomping at the bit to tell everyone about the latest goings on at Bluebird Hill, but as the title says, we need to say the most important things first….
First, everyone we know, as far as we know, has been able to stay heathy. Our cherished friends and loved ones, the folks at work, and the ‘crew’ (can we call two or three people a crew?) coming out to take care of wines and vines, are all doing ok. Maybe a bit stir crazy but doing ok; everyone is wanting to get out and about. At the very least, we think most everyone is figuring out a way to enjoy a little bit of outdoor time while staying safe. Some of these spring days have been spectacular. That is first.
Second is we need to tell everyone how INCREDIBLY GRATEFUL we are that great friends and customers have been taking advantage of the “COVID-19 Specials” that we have been offering over the past few weeks. The revenue from these sales is going directly to keep everyone employed. You may or may not know, as co-owners, we have never taken an ‘owners draw’ out of our young business. All our revenue goes toward paying our bills and expanding our capabilities and capacity. The revenue we are receiving this spring is going toward our employees’ paychecks, and the typical supplies needed in the spring: the bottles, labels, and corks to get newest releases out of tanks and barrels and onto the shelves. We have been packing up boxes of wine for shipping pick up, for our own local delivery, and for customer pickup here in Alpine-Monroe. It still feels a little funny to be having conversations with customers or the UPS guy while standing 30 feet apart. Sometime, sometime soon we hope, this will just be a memory.
Ok, that was the first things first, thank you very much. If you are interested to hear about goings on out at Bluebird Hill, then read on!
This past winter, you may have realized, did not have as many cold days and nights, and as we mentioned in our last post, our flowering trees opened earlier than the past two years. Now, in the vineyard, we have gone through bud break. We called ~50% bud break the past two years at April 20-21, we think we are about two weeks earlier this season. You can look down the rows today and see orderly little green arrays of 1-2” shoots. We were discussing this the other day, as one of the most delightful times of the year, after looking at dormant vines for more than six months, the manicured rows are looking healthy and full of energy! There are some nice patches of white and red clover in the grassy alleyways between the rows, we are going to let them grow, without mowing, until they flower, which should be in the next couple of weeks. After that, we expect to see some wild perennial daisies sprout up, they bloom in June. We are thinking it is time this week to disconnect the tiller from the tractor and get the sprayer ready to go. The first sprays of the year are organic sulfur, to help keep powdery mildew and mites at bay. We have a vineyard friend, and he is a matter-of-fact guy, he maintains, ‘this in just farming’, but we disagree, we see the emotion and romance in the annual cycle of renewal, the anticipation of robust vegetative growth and the setting of tens of thousands of fruit clusters where there was just bare, brown, skinny canes sitting sleeping during the winter.
There is always a lot of bottling activity in March and April, this year is the same. We just filled almost a thousand bottles of rosé and will be taking on our 2019 Pinot gris and our 2017 Red Blend in the next few weeks. The wines are tasting great to us and are going to be part of another ‘COVID Special’, mentioned below. Good timing on the bottling, because the ’18 gris and rosé both sold out in the past month. We will note it is more than a little different, doing the bottling with a skeleton crew of employees with no friends joining in to volunteer. It has been more like business, more like work, than the energetic and upbeat atmosphere we enjoy with a cluster of friends helping with the bottling, then sitting around for wine, lunch, and chat after the bottling is done.
In other news on the hill, we welcome back our friend and prior employee, Nick Cheatham. Nick is taking on both winemaking and vineyard chores, he is a multi-talented guy and is bringing those talents on to help make our grapes and wine better than ever. He will help some with marketing, and work some in the tasting room when we are back open to the public. And speaking of wines, maybe this is a good time to mention a few more awards that we have received since the last post. First, our 2017 Willamette Valley Reserve Pinot Noir was named as a “Cellar Select” by the Oregon Wine Press, to be featured in the May 2020 issue. This is an unfined and unfiltered wine was oak barreled for a full 24 months, and is a 50/50% blend of two Pinot noirs made from grapes we purchased from Zenith Vineyard in the Eola Hills, and our neighbors, Walnut Ridge Vineyard, west of Junction City. Only 50 cases bottled! We have received a lot of great comments on the wine; it was also awarded a double gold medal at Savor-Cannon Beach and it scored 96 points there. This was our second Cellar Select award in the past year, in November of 2019, our 2017 flagship WV Pinot noir was featured. Secondly, we just heard from Wine Enthusiast magazine, our 2018 Chardonnay was judged at 91 points and is an ‘Editors’ Choice’ selection. We had to look this up, to learn exactly what this meant, per W.E., it turns out that “Editors’ Choice wines are those that offer excellent quality at a price above our Best Buy range, or a product at any price with unique qualities that merit special attention.” So, we will take that as a compliment, any day!
Now it is time, after saying thanks, and spreading the news, to tell you about our latest specials: