• Neil & Sue Shay

“It’s Raining Again!” – Harvest Roundup


For those of you regular readers of our blog posts, we thank you – and if you are one of those rare birds, we’re going to stay on the 70’s/80’s pop music trend again. As we sit down to write this post, we’re looking out the window of this first Sunday post daylight savings, and we are seeing a LOT of rain, more, we think, since March or April of this year!!


So, the match is “It’s Raining Again”, from ‘Supertramp’, this one goes back all the way to 1982. Neil thinks he may have still been in high school at the time… (eyes rolling). The ground is greedily soaking up the wet stuff, while the vineyard still has a pleasant glow, a mix of green, yellow and orange foliage… So, you artists, or photographers, come on out over the next couple of weeks if you want to take in the autumn foliage at Bluebird Hill!




The estate harvest started the morning of Saturday October 1, and ended with finality on Friday October 21. With friends, we picked about a ton of Pinot noir on the first, for rosé, the next two weekends we were in both South and North block, picking clones 115, 667, and 777 and destemming into our one-ton fermenters. Then, with a solid week of rain imminent after the 21st, somehow, we lucked out and found a commercial picking crew to come out and bail us out! They started at about 8:00 am, and with the help of our neighbor Bruce, and his tractor, we hauled out over five tons of fruit from the north block and trucked it over, bin by bin, to our processing area. We just got all the fruit tarped up Friday afternoon before a light rain came in; with a small crew, we were able to process about four tons of PN and one ton of PG the next morning.

Overall, despite the challenges, we are looking at 2022 to be an exceptional vintage! We have patiently waited as the unusually late frost of April 15 delayed growth in the vineyard by 2-3 weeks, and then managed the vineyard through a sunny and warm season as the fruit set abundantly on the vine, to the point that our 2022 harvest exceeded our record harvests of 2020 and 2021.


We managed to do enough leaf pulling and a few sprays in August and early September, that appearance of fungus, both powdery mildew and botrytis (grey mold on the fruit) was essentially non-existent. The fruit acidity and sugar levels were exceptionally good in all batches of fruit picked. We also brought in additional Chardonnay from Stroda, Zenith and Sunrise Vineyards, Pinot gris from Stroda, and Viognier from Aurora Colony Vineyard.


The Rosé, first to be picked, has already finished fermentation, and is tucked away in steel tank for the winter, to be bottled early spring. Pinot gris and Chardonnay is fermenting away beautifully in the cool of the barrel room, along with the Viognier. The Pinot noir has been a challenge to keep up with!

Due to the exceptional production in the vineyard this year, we have fermented more Pinot noir than ever in Bluebird Hill’s history, about 15 tons. We maintained 15 bins in total, a frankly, are about to run out of barrels! The most Pinot noir we have ever barreled in one vintage has been about 25 barrels, it looks like we may fill about 30 this year! We just finished processing the last five fermenters on Saturday November 5, and hopefully will have everything in barrel by the end of the week.

Then, the next step will be to monitor the finish of the malolactic conversion, as those beneficial bacteria that we have written about before, convert the slightly sharper acid, malic acid, into a slightly smoother, silkier food acid, lactic acid. This is in part, one reason why some white wines are significantly more acidic than reds, all other things considered.


Then, after a winter of barrel stirring, the wine will age in barrel until bottling in summer of 2024! Upcoming on our calendar are the upcoming traditional Thanksgiving weekend tastings, Saturday and Sunday, Nov 19-20, and Friday-Sunday, November 25-27. We promise to have all the clutter of harvest tucked away, and the tasting room and tasting areas ready to go with the heaters turned up to high! We’re planning on offering some excellent deals on wines to stock up for dinners and holiday gift giving, and also hoping that our newest offering, our NV (Non-Vintage) Red Wine Blend, will be ready to go! So come on out, reservations are not going to be required, but especially if you have a larger than average group, a great idea to plan ahead and call to reserve a spot for tasting.


Play It Forward Online Auction: Bluebird Hill Cellars is proud be the lead sponsor of Play It Forward, the annual fundraiser to support the work of South Benton Advisory Committee (SOBAC) for United Way of Linn, Benton, and Lincoln Counties. Funds are dedicated to collaboratively invest in the livability of South Benton County communities through long-term, sustainable projects for healthy children and families. Current projects receiving support include the Old Mill Relief Nursery in Monroe, South Benton Recreation Alliance safe routes to school projects, and development of a South Benton Community Resource Center. The online auction web address is www.32auctions.com/Playitforward2022 and the auction runs from November 5 through 7 pm November 13, 2022. We hope that you will join us for this year’s Play it Forward online auction. A chance to bid on some amazing packages while supporting our South Benton community!


Bluebird Hill Cellars Food Drive:

Help us fill up the South Benton County Food Pantry during the month of November. South Benton Food Pantry is located in the Willamette Valley, in the small town of Monroe. Their food comes from local sources, such as Corvallis Farmers Market, Linn Benton Food Share and other local farms and stores. They serve anyone who lives, works or plays in the Monroe School District and beyond and is income qualified. The food pantry is able to work with other agencies to find the support our clients need, from food, furniture, housing, access to health care, parenting classes, ESL, and so much more.

How this works:

Bring 5 food items~1 free flight of 4 wines

Bring 10 food items~1 free flight of 6

Bring 15 food items~1 free flight of 9

Bring 20 food items~1 free flight of all our current release wines

Items needed:

CANNED SOUPS & STEWS

TUNA

MEDIUM INCONTINENCE UNDERWEAR

CAT FOOD

OATMEAL

CANNED MILK

ALTERNATIVE MILK (ALMOND, COCONUT, OAT)

PAPER PRODUCTS (TOILET PAPER, PAPER

TOWELS, ETC)

CONDIMENTS (KETCHUP, MUSTARD, MAYONNAISE)

LAUNDRY SOAP

DISH SOAP

BABY FOOD & FORMULA

ENSURE TYPE PRODUCTS

PEANUT BUTTER

JAMS/JELLIES

CORN MEAL


Cruise News: Join us as we set sail with AmaWaterways for their "Enticing Douro" river cruise on May 11, 2024. We'll depart Porto for a seven-night sailing aboard the 102-passenger Ama Douro (pictured below).


CRUISE FROM: PORTO TO PORTO

Rambling vineyards and charming native farms cling to the steep sides of the Douro River Valley, creating an incomparable backdrop to one of Europe’s most unspoiled regions and to Port country— the world’s oldest demarcated wine region. Sail round trip from Porto, the beautiful “City of Bridges”; visit Regua, the ‘capital’ of the Douro Valley; and marvel at Salamanca, the UNESCO-designated “Golden City.” Taste wines from historic wineries and soak up the genuine beauty of one of Europe’s most unadulterated landscapes.

Additional Pre-Cruise option 3 nights in Lisbon. Details can be found here.

Neil & Sue will be your wine hosts onboard the cruise and they plan to enjoy the Pre-Cruise option in Lisbon. Space is limited on this small ship, and we would love for you to join us.


Wine Club Parties: These are off and running, and we’re finally out from under the grey cloud of quarantine and social distancing. For active wine club members, we are now scheduling free, private parties in appreciation of your loyalty and patronage of Bluebird Hill over the years. Keep a lookout for the next one, likely will be around the holidays!! Details coming soon!


Accolades:

Great Northwest Wines Platinum Competition scores are in! The Great Northwest Wines Platinum Judging rewards the Best of the Best wines from the Northwest. Judges revel in participating at this unique competition, considering it a truly golden opportunity. Each wine entered has earned a Gold or higher award in previous wine competitions held across North America within the past year. Bluebird Hill Cellars wins (drum roll)...

Our sold out 2019 Red Wine Blend won a DOUBLE GOLD. Watch for the upcoming release of our new NV (Non-Vintage) Red Wine Blend. We think that it's as good as or even better than the 2019.

SIP Northwest Magazine "Best of the Northwest" competition results will be announced this Thursday. We will publish those results on our Facebook and Instagram pages and in our next blog post.


Upcoming Events:

Bluebird Hill Cellars tasting at First Alternative North Store

November 11 Corvallis


Bluebird Hill Cellars tasting at First Alternative South Store

November 18 Corvallis


Bluebird Hill Cellars tasting at Keizer Liquors

November 19 Keizer


Pre-Thanksgiving Open House

November 19 & 20


Bluebird Hill Cellars tasting at The Laughing Crab Gallery

November 23 Florence


Post-Thanksgiving Open House

November 25, 26, & 27


Bluebird Hill Cellars tasting at Garland Nursery's Thanksgiving Open House

November 26 & 27 Corvallis


Bluebird Hill Cellars tasting at The Emporium, Veneta

December 14 Veneta


Tasting Room Hours


​May through October:

Reservations appreciated

Friday: 3-7; Sat/Sun: Noon – 5

Outdoor seated tastings. Picnics welcome.

​November through April:

Reservations required

Sat/Sun: Noon – 5

Seated tastings outdoors on our covered front porch, under our tasting room canopy and in our tasting room. Limited seating available.

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, have a wonderful Thanksgiving and we hope to see you on the Hill in the near future!


Best always, Neil and Sue




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