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  • Writer's pictureNeil & Sue Shay

The Dog Days of Summer

Photo of Willie courtesy of our tasting room guest Julian Saaiman

The Dog Days of Summer describes the most oppressive period of summer, between July 3rd and August 11th each year. But where did the term come from? And what does it have to do with dogs? You can check out what the Farmers Almanac has to say about it here. Looking at the extended forecast it appears that we're in for a couple more weeks of high 80s to mid 90s. Hang in there! We're more than half way through the "dog days".

The Covid regulations have impacted one of our big summer activities, the ‘Play It Forward’ golf and charity event which we have been convening since 2017. Last year we just flat out cancelled it, and now this year we hope to soon announce an online charity auction event combined with an informal game of golf. This will be announced soon, we are planning for late August or immediately after Labor Day before harvest begins. The event supports our local United Way with an emphasis on charitable organizations local to us here in south Benton County, such as the new Relief Nursery in Monroe which was organized by one of our favorite charitable organizations, the Old Mill School of Corvallis. If in advance, you know you would like to donate directly, with a cash, check or credit card contribution, please contact us at the winery to help make that happen. As well, the donation of gifts including gift baskets, other merchandise, and/or vacation or recreational related gifts can all be included in the auction. We are anticipating a window of September 7-12 for the auction, so please keep an eye out for that, we appreciate your support! We hope, in 2022, to be back again at full steam, with a golf outing event with banquet and live auction after golf…

Otherwise, with the lifting of the Covid regulations and being more comfortable with gathering, we are very happy to announce a few social events.

The first is ‘Pinot on the Patio’, which is going to be held on August 14th from 5 to 8 pm. This social event includes great food, wine (including some selections from ‘The Wine Library’), music, and some games including trivia and cornhole. Our musical guests, The HipBillys, are experienced performers and songwriters, having performed a wide variety of music styles such as Folk, Blues, Country, Classic Rock & Bluegrass in the Northwest for 40+ years. Their ‘Heartfelt Hipbillys’ music is popular in the local craft brewing, cider and winery circuits and is best described as ‘Americana’.

Ticket price is $40-Advance tickets required. Your ticket price includes music and food (Italian dinner by Boss Hawg's BBQ Express). We will be closing ticket sales at midnight August 11 so RSVP soon!

Secondly, we are very happy to announce some (Free!) ‘Wine Library’ events exclusively for our wine club members. As a thank you for being a wine club member, we will be hosting these private events on two Saturdays in August, after the tasting room closes at 5:00 pm. We’ll have some food on the grill for you, and bottles of Bluebird Hill Pinot and Chardonnay from the cellar, ranging from our first vintage, 2014, to the 2017 and 2018 wines. The dates for these events are August 21 and 28, and these will be small events, we’re planning to host only twelve members each date. So if you are a wine club member, we hope you will take advantage and sign up, in advance, for one of the two dates. Once we get to twelve people registered, that date will be closed. Email or call the winery for more information or to register.

Also, with the end of many Covid regulations, we’re happy to announce that some tasting events are now resuming:

Philomath Uncorked: The Philomath Area Chamber of Commerce is excited to host their 10th Annual Philomath Uncorked Wine Walk. This years event will be held Saturday, July 31, from 3pm to 7pm. The wristbands can be purchased at the True Value parking lot and Compton Family Winery starting at 3pm. Your $15 purchase includes your tasting glass, 5 tasting tickets and a wine tote bag. Additional tasting tickets are also available to purchase the day of the event. If you have any questions regarding the event do not hesitate to contact the Chamber office at 541-929-2454. Bluebird Hill Cellars will be pouring their award winning wines at Timber Towne Coffee.

Cork and Bottle Shoppe: Neil will be pouring Bluebird Hill wines at Cork & Bottle in Albany from 4 to 7 on August 20th. Stop by and taste our new and current releases!

Downtown Corvallis Wine Walk: September 25th from 3 to 7 pm spend a lovely evening strolling beautiful downtown Corvallis as local businesses play host to Oregon wineries and distillers. Representatives from each winery or distillery will be on hand to discuss their beverages, tell their stories, and answer your questions. Business owners will also offer tempting appetizers, along with music and/or artwork by local artisans and musicians. The Downtown Corvallis Wine Walk, presented by the Downtown Corvallis Association, features some of Oregon's premier wineries and distillers, offering samples of their finest vintages. You'll find Bluebird Hill pouring at Second Glance.

Also, thank you to our ongoing restaurant and retail partners, and new ones as well, for stocking Bluebird Hill wine on their menus and store shelves. This includes long-standing partners such as the Cork and Bottle Shoppes in Corvallis, Albany, and Springfield, Del Alma Restaurant in Corvallis, and Broadway Wine Merchants in Eugene – but also new or renewed partnerships with Market of Choice/Corvallis, Blue Valley Bistro in Coburg and Sundance Wine Cellars in Eugene.

And, at this point, we have to shout out a very sincere thank you to all of you who have kept Bluebird Hill wines in their homes throughout the past year – all of you, who have come out to pickup or purchase for local delivery, or shipping to friends and relatives around the country, thank you SO VERY MUCH for supporting our endeavors in winemaking… We look forward to many more years of friendship and the sharing of good wine!

VINEYARD UPDATE from Nick Cheatham:

As we enter July and mid-summer, we are keenly anticipating vintage 2021. The dramatic heat spell that met us in the last part of June really got our attention, to say the least. Hello, summer!

In the vineyard, we have been doing very well to keep up with the pace of the growing season. The lack of spring rainfall and the recent heat spell has, thankfully, affected the plants very minimally -- if at all. Keeping our new vines planted this spring watered and vigorous has been the only significant challenge.

Two rounds of hedging have been performed and all the leaves in the fruiting zone on the morning-sun side (east side) have been thinned from the canopy. These processes help ensure gentle sun exposure to promote berry ripening and color development, and helps promote airflow through the vineyard to mitigate disease pressure from powdery mildew.

Here at our Estate, we pull all those leaves manually and we employ a sharp, but lightweight machete to complete carry out hedging. Only the most skilled are allowed to wield the blade!

Now, as we approach bunch closure, the grape clusters look excellent. By the end of the month, we will begin to see the grapes enter a “lag phase” in their growth. This is where cellular division stops, and subsequently cellular expansion and accumulation of sugars begins to take place. We anticipate that July will provide a classic Oregon “warm days and cool nights” for premier berry development. One might say harvest is so close, you can almost taste it.


Visits to the tasting room have been brisk and it seems that all our wines are being enjoyed and taken home in good numbers. It’s been an interesting ‘battle’ to watch, our two new blush wines, the barrel-fermented Blanc de Pinot Noir, and the tank fermented Rosé are both being enjoyed, and certainly, sipping on a cold glass of either, on a hot summer day is a good thing!

Otherwise, we are spending the summer months preparing for late summer bottling, of the 2019 Pinots and 2020 Chardonnay. After tasting through the Pinot barrels a few weeks ago, we’re delighted to report that the 2019 Flagship, and the Mom’s, South Block and Zenith Reserves are all on track to be excellent wines, along with the 2020 Chardonnay! We can’t wait to get them in bottle and start serving them!

Dog Days of Summer Sales and Specials:…..

-Rosé and Blanc de Pinot Noir: 20% off cases (plus your wine club discount of 5, 10, or 15%!)

-For the month of August only: All Library Wines (with the exception of our 2017 Willamette Valley Reserve Pinot Noir): 10% off plus your wine club discount

-2017 Willamette Valley Reserve Pinot Noir (Rated #1 out of 40 gold medal Pinots at the 2020 WinePress NW Platinum Competition): Was $69, now $59 for the month of August – (limit 3 bottles) **no additional wine club discount

- 2018 Birdhouse Dessert Wine (Pinot Gris/Rainier Cherry Blend): 25% off six (Sale Price $90); 50% off twelve (Sale Price $120). *no additional wine club discount

- 2018 Pinot Noir Sampler: 3 Each Flagship; and Mom’s, So. Block, and Zenith Reserve: (Retail $537 – now 15% off ($456), PLUS your wine club discount of 5, 10, or 15%!

We hope to see you at the winery soon! Get a group together, pack a picnic, and make a plan to spend a few hours with us. Our hours are Fridays 3-7, and Saturdays/Sundays noon to 5. Also, we are open other times by appointment, and feel free to call us to talk about having us host your private party after regular tasting room hours or on a weekday.


Neil & Sue Shay

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