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  • Writer's pictureNeil & Sue Shay

Roundabout Thanks…

Updated: Nov 20, 2021

It’s the season for giving thanks, and on our end, it turned out to happen via a somewhat peculiar and roundabout way: this fall we had to do a significant plumbing repair, a long section of our main water supply line was starting to develop leaks, and we had to expose about forty or more feet of pipe. To get the repair done, we had to rip out a fair amount of sheetrock in our main tasting room and a large closet to allow the plumbers to get at the pipe and do their thing. We had been using that closet for our own personal wine collection, and we had to remove ALL the bottles (several hundred, at least) and remove several wine racks from the wall to get at the sheetrock. For quite a while, we had to work around wine boxes and wine racks in the middle of our main tasting room area, but finally, this past week, the repair was completed, and we got our chance to repair the wallboard, reinstall the wine racks, and then unpack our wine out of the boxes and get them back into the racks.

This chore gave us a chance to revisit our wine path or wine story since we started home winemaking some twenty years ago. The dusting off and reorganizing of our collection allowed us to rediscover bottles all the way back to our very first amateur wines, from the 2004 vintage (this was Cabernet Franc, by the way), to Oregon Pinots and Chasselas in 2010 and 2011, our first two years in Oregon.

Then it was on to our first Bluebird Hill wines, the Pinots, starting in 2014, and the whites, with Chardonnay and White Wine Blend from 2015, and then our ‘Duology’ and ‘Trilogy’ white wine blends from 2016. Then on to the 2017’s and 2018’s and the rest of our current releases. It was fun thing to look through all these bottles, and then connect each varietal, each vintage to the events and people we talked wine and drank wine with!

So, thank you, everyone, who has been with us for this incredible ride! We can remember back to silly little things, like Sue ‘foot stomping’ our first ever batch of red wine, back in 2004 in southwest Michigan, great friendships we made with the Michigan wine folks back then, and first beginning to appreciate what it took to run a winery.

Fast forwarding, moving to Oregon in 2010, doing U-pick

locally at OSU’s Woodhall Vineyard and other local vineyards in 2010 and 2011.

Then, over the next year or two, realizing, in 2013, that our four acres of overgrown Christmas trees had potential to be a great vineyard site… We got great business advice from local winery owners, getting Bluebird Hill off the ground with invaluable help from Bobby and a series of hard-working OSU assistants including our friend Bentley, God bless you, and a whole series of others, at the beginning with Karl, and now most recently in 2021, our “OSU Crew”, Alexis, Terran, Tommy and McKenna.

And on the other side of the tasting bar, the great friends we have made with so many of you, meeting you first at the winery, and sharing so much time together as friends, great dinners, help with bottling and harvest, projects like our new redwood pergola in 2021, trips away, and even getting licensed as wine servers to help us as wine events. So, it may be cliché, but those wine bottles in our collection, retold us a great story, and we are thankful for the experiences along the way, and our great friendships, thank you all, and let’s plan for many more vintages together!

We’d love to be telling everyone that we have time right now to kick off our shoes and put our feet up for a while, but the truth is, we just seem to be keeping busy with a host of different chores! Even though the 2021 harvest is now just a memory and ninety percent of our 2021 wines are snugged up in the cool of the barrel room, we’ve been taking care of other things, both in the vineyard and in the winery. Today, however, Sue and I are taking on a very special chore: we’re reestablishing some indoor seating for guests, something we haven’t had since March 2020.

For those of you who had visited during the late fall or winter months, pre-quarantine, you know that we had a set of café tables and could seat four or five different parties all at one time in our cozy little tasting room. In adapting to the quarantine, we now find ourselves with more covered and weather protected seating then we have ever had, and all of it follows safe practices and appropriate social distancing! Inside the tasting room, we now have two tables with seating for up to twelve. Adjacent to the tasting room, under our metal canopy in the reception area, we have two picnic tables and can comfortably seat another eight or ten people out there. There are plastic greenhouse panels on two sides of the canopy, protecting the tables from the wind, and one open side facing out to the south and our nice view of the ‘Monroe Hills’ valley. And continuing what we’ve been doing for the past two summers, we have bistro tables and chairs, with propane heaters up on our front porch, with dry, protected seating for another twelve to sixteen people. Finally, on rain-free days this fall, we have our regular seating outdoors in the patio area and under our redwood pergola, with two wood burning firepits and a propane-fired firepit.

The point is, if you want to get out and do some wine tasting this month, we have plenty of quality space for you! We will try our best to keep you as cozy as possible while you taste our wines and enjoy good conversation and great views. We’re going to offer some really great deals on wine this month, so plan to come out to stock up for the holidays, as one of our local discount markets advertises: “Shop Us First!”… We’re going to be open for the traditional pre- and post-Thanksgiving weekends, and we’ll also be available to book private party reservations on other days as well, just give us a ring or shoot us an email. You can find some great promotional pricing listed below, with some deals at 30 to 50% off retail pricing!

As mentioned above, the 2021 wines are doing well. All but just a few barrels of Pinot noir have completed the malic acid to lactic acid conversion (the ‘malolactic fermentation’ or MLF, we have talked about this in prior blog posts), and the Chardonnay is finished and resting in both French oak barrels and in steel tanks. Pinot gris is in steel tank as is the Viognier, which is destined to be blended with some Chardonnay to allow us to re-release Bluebird Hill Cellars ‘Duology’ in 2022.

After bottling what seemed to us to be a heroic amount of wine in September and October, we’re looking to bottle just a bit more this month or next: the 2019 Reserve Chardonnay, the 2020 Chardonnay, and the 2020 Late Harvest Pinot Gris. Then, we’ll have a break from bottling until it’s 2021 Rosé time, in the last part of winter. We’ll hopefully be doing 2021 Pinot gris and 2021 Duology at that time, too. It also looks like 2022 is going to bring the return of the wine festivals, if so, we are planning to be at the Portland, Newport, Cannon Beach, Astoria, and McMinnville shows during the winter and spring of 2022.

Out in the vineyard things are quiet. After a bunch of rainy and windy days, most of the leaves are off the vines, and mainly we are just waiting for a bit of cooler temperatures to help harden off the vines, so we can begin pruning for 2022.

Thanksgiving Holiday Sales

Our case storage room is filled to the rafters with wine, and we’re offering some great November Specials on our wines. This pricing will be good through the two Thanksgiving weekends:

All Current Release Wines on Sale as Follows:

Buy 2 bottles: Get 10% off

Buy 4 bottles: Get 15% off

Buy 8 bottles: Get 20% off

Buy 12 bottles: Get 25% off

Buy 24 bottles: Get 30% off (This is employee discount levels, folks!!)

Plus, these three deals (which are separate from the above sale)

Buy 6 or more of the Gold Medal winning 2017 Barrel Select Pinot Noir: Get 40% off!

Buy 12 or more 2020 Rosé (89 Pts WE) or Blanc de Pinot Noir (90 Pts WE): Get 50% off!

All Library Wines: 20% off! These wines include our Pinot noirs from 2014 – 2017, and our Chardonnays from 2015 – 2017.

Tasting Fees: For the month of November, all wine club members taste for free, otherwise regular tasting room fees will apply for flights of wine ranging from and four wines ($10) to a flight of all current release wines ($25 for thirteen wines!). Note, the November sale prices listed above cannot be combined with any other discounts or promotional offers.

Thanksgiving Holiday Hours: Pre Thanksgiving Weekend November 20-21, 2021

Saturday and Sunday noon to 5

Post Thanksgiving Weekend November 26-28, 2021

Friday, Saturday and Sunday 11 to 5

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 that you all have the best possible Thanksgiving!

Best always, Neil and Sue

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