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  • Writer's pictureNeil & Sue Shay

Long Time, No See!

Ok everyone, we know, we Know, we KNOW we’ve been bad, and neglected the Bluebird Hill blog this summer - - the last we were writing about, the 10-year anniversary celebration of the planting of Mom’s Block was still ahead… But now, that’s a memory (was indeed a great celebration!), the summer has come and gone, and as we write, we are finally taking a few deep breaths, harvest is over, and now we are managing the last of the fermentation bins, and white wines doing their cool, slow fermentation thing…

Looking for the clever tie in for our MIA blog to classic rock and pop songs, should we be referring to “A long, long time ago, I can still remember…” (Don McLean, American Pie), ‘Long Time Gone’ (Crosby, Stills and Nash), or a whole bunch of others written and/or performed by Linda Ronstadt, Sam Cooke, Tom Jones, and Bruce Springsteen… You pick your favorite from the bunch, and we’ll try to own it!

Our long-missing blog post resulted from a whole host of factors, but being busy is not a part of it, because we haven’t been any busier than at any time in the past. Maybe the blame lies on Neil’s shoulders: since retiring from full-time duties with OSU, he’s been trying to take a little bit of time off (rumor has it he’s been spotted on the golf course more times in 2023 than in the past 20 years!). Maybe the blame lies on both Neil and Sue’s shoulders, our shoulders, in fact, we have had a chance to do a whole bunch of travel this year; first and foremost was a two-week trip, end of June, to France! We traveled the ‘Canal du Midi’ for a week with six good friends, and then stayed at a VRBO rental for the second week in the Longuedoc region of southern France. We also took shorter trips to southern Oregon, the coast, and Sisters, Oregon.

But regardless, Bluebird Hill Cellars has been going full force, sometimes feels like things are happening at warp speed, Mr. Sulu… After the Mom’s Block celebration in May, we followed with a busy Memorial Day weekend, and then watched the vineyard just burst with growth. The late budbreak was overcome by steady summer warm weather, Josh and Tommy and summer intern Ali kept the vineyard in best-ever condition, and we started harvest on September 16, a very average, if not early start to harvest.

The 2021 Flagship Pinot and Chardonnay both came online this summer, and have been great hits, really loved by all! This recognition was capped in September when we were notified by Wine Enthusiast Magazine that these two wines both were scored at 92 points, and the Chardonnay was also recognized by the WE reviewer as an ‘Editors Choice’! We’ve explained this in a past blog (because we have one WE Editors Choice award already), the EC designation is the magazine’s mechanism to tell you that this wine is a special value at it’s given price point – this is different than a ‘Best Buy’, which refers to lower priced wines. You can see the WE reviews of these two wines in the current issue, the November issue (on page 120). Very humbling to see only a very few Oregon wines recognized in this issue, considering there are hundreds of wines reviewed in this month’s issue… We are very proud that we have been, and continue, to be producing high quality, and well appreciated Pinots and Chardonnays. Upcoming, we are looking to release soon some new wines: the 2021 Reserve Pinots, the 2021 Reserve Chardonnay, the 2021 Red Wine Blend, and we hope very soon, a Bing Cherry/Pinot Noir Port-style dessert wine! Let us know if you’d like more information about any of these wines and when specifically, we hope to have them ready for you to get some of these into your wine cellar!


Fruit was absolutely beautiful, we leaf pulled in July and August to allow the clusters to bathe in full sun, and dropped less optimal clusters in August to allow the remaining fruit to ripen to perfection! We started harvest with a first pick on September 16, picking a ton or two every day for about a week, until we were interrupted by a bit of rain - - after a week to let things dry out, we resumed harvest, and finished the pick on Saturday, October 7. We harvested about sixteen tons of estate fruit and supplemented that with a few tons more of Chardonnay from our friends, the Strodas in Monroe, and Barbara Benner in Cheshire.

As of this writing, we have twenty barrels of Pinot noir filled and finishing fermentation and malolactic conversion, three (stainless steel) barrels of rosé, and a couple of fermentation bins of Pinot still going, a set of barrels and tanks of Chardonnay buzzing away, and one tank of Pinot gris. Fermentations have been moving along smoothly, and we’re tasting great flavors and starting to see that the 2023 wines might indeed be exceptional, so keep your fingers crossed!

See below our fall events and off-site tastings - - of note, we have two weekends of wine club pickup, end of October, first of November, two weekends of Thanksgiving tastings, pre- and post- , and a special vertical/library tasting event, featuring Bluebird Hill Pinots and Chardonnays all the way back to 2014 (Dec. 16, 11-6, RSVPs required!).

October 21, 2023 5:30 to 7:30 pm

October 27 & December 15, 2023 3 to 6 pm

October 28 & 29 and November 4 & 5, 2023 12 to 5 pm

October 28, 2023 6 to 9 pm

November 8, 2023 4 to 8 pm

November 10, 2023 3 to 6 pm

November 17, 2023 4 to 6 pm

November 18 & 19, 2023 12 to 5 pm

December 16, 2023 11 to 6 pm

December 22, 2023 4 to 6 pm

February 22-25, 2024

Bluebird Hill Cellars at the Portland Seafood and Wine Festival/Portland

March 1-3, 2024

March 8-10, 2024

April 26-28, 2024

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 or at one of our upcoming events in the near future!

Best always, Neil and Sue

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