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  • Writer's pictureNeil & Sue Shay

Happy Birthday to Bluebird Hill Cellars!

Photo courtesy of Steven Polansky

We will close the blog with this news, but just to let everyone know what is going on, we are celebrating FIVE YEARS in business, our tasting room opened to the public at the end of May 2016.

From a very humble start, opening with just barely 200 cases of wine in stock, we still consider ourselves a ‘micro winery’, we are just about up to the production of almost 1,000 cases of wine per year, but as always, valuing quality over quantity. We are incredibly grateful for the many loyal customers and friends we have made in these five short years and know our success has been dependent on your support, choosing to purchase our wines, join us in our activities over the years, and help us in other ways, as harvest volunteers and other tasks and chores as needed!

Even with the absence of the winter and spring wine festivals, things have been busy! Starting back in February, we opened up on Saturday and Sunday afternoons for wine tasting, and actually welcomed a fair number of visitors! It was nice to see both old and new faces, and talk wine and other friendly chit chat.

Gus and Kona among the vines

VINEYARD UPDATE: The vineyard is looking great and it seems that every day, we see shoots reaching higher and higher on the trellises. We had bud break around April 17, which was a bit ahead of the last two years, and a bit behind 2018. We’ve already started raising the catch wires to ‘trap’ the growing shoots against the four main wires. For those of you not familiar with our trellising system, we try to weave the shoots in and out of the four main, fixed wires, and then as the shoots grow upward during the spring and early summer, we lift up the catch wires, one on each side of the vine row, to keep the shoots from falling away from the main wires. Along with the curly tendrils, which grab onto the wires and nearby shoots, this system does a pretty good job of keeping the growing shoots vertical, and organized.

We’ve been using our new flair mower, which is attached to, and powered by our Kubota tractor, to keep everything mowed neatly, and to help chip up the cut vines which we’ve laid into the middle area of the vineyard alleyways. We also rented a seed slitter and laid down additional grass and clover seed into the vineyard alleyways. Now, in the past two or three weeks, we’ve removed the flail mower from the tractor, and hooked up the sprayer to the Kubota. We’ve already applied three organic sulfur sprays in the vineyard, to retard powdery mildew. When you come out next to visit, we invite you to check out the vines close up, to see how good everything looks!

Otherwise, we do have a few other yard things going on: we’re working on establishing wildflowers in the strip of soil on the east side of the deer fence as you drive up the main driveway up the hill to our parking area and entryway. We’re already seeing the wild poppies, lupine, and cornflowers start to bloom, and expecting to see cosmos, rudbeckia, morning glories and sunflowers to come into bloom in June and July… Also, Neil is planting more garden veggies in the narrow strip on the northeast side of the North Block, as he did last year. This year’s version is going to be a tad smaller, but already we have a few dozen tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant in the ground in that nice sunny spot…


As we mentioned above, from later winter into spring, we’ve been hosting guests on weekends for wine tasting. It’s been great to see everyone coming out, safely distanced but still having a great time.

We’re happy to report on previously-published, and newly announced wine awards:

The 2017 Willamette Valley Reserve Pinot Noir continues to be one of our highest-regarded wines ever. In this past winter’s 2020 Platinum Award Competition held by Wine Press Northwest, this wine, made from a 50/50 pairing of fruit from Zenith and Walnut Ridge Vineyards was judged the number one, highest scoring Pinot noir among a group of forty gold medal-winning Pinots! (And, no, N.B., we did not bribe the judges, this was a blind judging event with three different multi-judge teams… ) This wine is a mixture of Pommard Clone (50%) combined with 115 and 777 (25% each). We still have a couple of cases of this lovely available for bottle sales, put it on your list to get some of this wine into your cellar soon!! This wine will be a wonderful treasure to put away for a year or more, to be brought out for some special dinner with friends or loved ones down the road… Wine Press NW 21st Annual Platinum Judging results

Other medal winners available for you to taste in May and June:

- 2021 Savor NW Wine Awards: 2018 South Block Estate Reserve Pinot Noir - Gold Medal

- 2021 San Diego International Wine Comp.: 2018 Mom’s Reserve Estate Pinot Noir - Gold Medal

- 2021 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition: 2019 Chardonnay - Gold Medal

- 2021 SIP McMinnville: Flagship 2018 Pinot Noir: Double Gold (unanimous!)

- 2020 Savor NW Wine Awards and Platinum Awards: 2017 Barrel Select PN Gold Medal

- 2020 Oregon Wine Comp. & Platinum Awards: Birdhouse Dessert – Gold and Double Gold

- 2021 Cascadia Wine Competition: Moms and South Block PN’s: Gold Medal

- 2021 Savor NW Wine Awards: South Block PN: Gold Medal

Also set up for Memorial Day Weekend: New Releases! We just bottled ~ 100 cases of our 2020 ‘Blanc de Pinot Noir’ (AKA ‘White Pinot’), and judging by the preliminary tastes of the bottled wine and the brisk bottle sales on the first day of it’s availability, we think we have a winner on our hands! Light florals, light fruit, a little trace of orange creamsicle. This is going to be a great, serve it cold, summer sipper!! To accompany this, is the 2020 Rosé of Pinot noir, a pale pink in color, but still with delightful light fruit and floral aromas and flavors, it is going to be difficult, we hope, to choose between the ‘Blanc’ and the ‘Rosé’…

In other miscellaneous news, we are pleased to announce our four year old system of canopies over the tasting area has now been replaced with a really cool Western Red Cedar Pergola. We’ve also just finished setting up a small sound system to broadcast background music during tasting room hours, and we’ve arranged for a couple of local musicians to provide some eclectic offerings, including fiddle, guitar, and even some classical harp, so check our news and updates for what might be playing in the background when you come out!

And finally, as part of our fifth anniversary celebration, we have invited our friends Neal and Alyse (‘Team Benstone’) and wine bloggers, Winery Wanderings, to pour with us on Friday afternoon, to commemorate their visit to Bluebird Hill on Friday, May 27, 2016. Neal and Alyse were our very first customers five years ago at Bluebird Hill, we’ve gotten to know them over the years and have become good friends.

Upcoming Events

Memorial Day weekend:

Join us for our Memorial Day Weekend Open House May 28 from 3-7 and May 29-31 from Noon to 5 . Taste our award winning current releases and enjoy our new releases: 2020 Blanc de Pinot Noir and 2020 Rosé of Pinot Noir. Tasting fee of $10-$25. Boss Hawg's BBQ Express will have their food cart onsite and will be serving up Pulled Pork, Beef Brisket and Chicken Salad with Dilly Tater Salad, Coleslaw and Mac Salad.

Stop in, spend some time, taste our award winning wines and enjoy our spectacular view of the Willamette Valley.

Special guests:

Local harpist, Beatrice Rose, will be playing on the front porch Saturday, May 29th. Beatrice is a Certified Music-thanatologist and a Certified Therapeutic Harp Practitioner. She is retired from Strings of Compassion, the music-thanatology practice of PeaceHealth hospitals and Hospice of Sacred Heart. Through ArtsCare, which promotes the joining of art and music in health care settings, she currently serves patients of Lumina Hospice. She lives on a farm here in Alpine with her husband and four mini-horses.

On Sunday afternoon May 30th, our dear friend Shelley Powers and her mother, Evelyn Horner (National Senior Champion fiddle player) will be live on the front porch. Here's a video of Evelyn competing in the 2017 Senior-Senior Division Finals accompanied by Shelley on guitar.

Bluebird Birthday Bonanza

Buy three or more bottles and receive a Bluebird Birthday raffle ticket. Buy a case and get three tickets.

Each week, beginning Memorial Day Week and each week in June, we will be awarding a certificate for a private wine tasting for two with cheese. Weekly winners will be selected and notified every Sunday beginning May 30 and ending June 27 at 5 pm.

On June 27th, a Grand Prize winner will be chosen. The winner will receive a certificate for a private wine tasting for six with charcuterie.

**Regular Wine Club pickups not included in promotions.

Reservations are always appreciated and can be booked online at:

Wine Club Pickup Weekend

Wine Club members can stop by Bluebird Hill Cellars anytime June 11-13 during tasting room hours for your pick up. We will have a complimentary food and wine pairing prepared exclusively for wine club members. Not a member of the club? We invite you to join our inner circle by becoming a member. As a wine club member, you'll receive exclusive benefits along with selections of our delicious wine to complement your meals, or for life's special moments when you sit down, relax, enjoy friends and a great glass of wine. Visit our website to join today.

Bluebird Hill Photo Contest:

Post a picture featuring a bottle of Bluebird Hill wine to Facebook or Instagram and tag us @BluebirdHill through the end of June and the ‘best pic’ winner will receive a certificate for a private wine tasting for two and two Bluebird Hill logo shirts. Winning picture will selected based on composition and creativity.

May Wine Specials

2018 Pinot Gris

Gold Medal 2020 Wine Press NW Platinum Competition

15% off 6 bottles (Retail $132 Save $19.80)

30% off 12 bottles (Retail $264 Save $79.20)

2018 Chardonnay

91 Points/Editor’s Choice 2020 Wine Enthusiast

15% off 6 bottles (Retail $192 Save $28.80)

30% off 12 bottles (Retail $384 Save $115.20)

2017 Red Wine Blend

15% off 6 bottles (Retail $168 Save $25.20)

30% off 12 bottles (Retail $336 Save $100.80)

2018 Birdhouse Dessert Wine

50% off 12 bottles (Retail $240 Save $120)

20% off all Library Wines (25% for wine club)

We hope you make some plans to come out this season, if it is a bit of a trip to get to our place, make it worth your while, put together a picnic, organize your friends, and enjoy a couple of hours with us out in the south valley foothills. We’ll talk some wine talk and whatever else is on our minds!

Also, for those who live at a distance or those who still want to keep that social distance, we will continue to offer private and corporate group virtual tastings. We provide a fun and relaxed atmosphere to our virtual tastings and focus on tailoring the events to the needs and prior wine tasting experience of the group. Tastings may include a virtual tour of the vineyard and winery, with a focus on understanding the qualities and attributes of wines included in the experience. Interested? Just give us a call at (541) 424-2478 to discuss.

We know that we have a lot to be thankful for. It's all of you that make it possible for us to live our dreams every day. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Stay safe and healthy, and we hope to see you on the Hill in the near future!

Best always, Neil and Sue

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