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  • Writer's pictureNeil & Sue Shay

The Waiting Game

Been sitting out on the patio this afternoon, one of the hottest weeks of the summer so far, but it got a little hazy this afternoon which helped keep the high temperature here at Bluebird Hill from topping 92 F today. We hit 100.0F at one point over the weekend, that was our local high temperature during this last heat wave… Also, sitting on the east side of the house in the afternoon helps, it keeps you in the shade and if there’s any breeze out, that’s frosting on the cake.

And today, I’ve been listening to the ‘Big 80’s’ on Pandora, and has been trying to come up with a good song to tie to the title of this blog post, The Waiting Game’… And I’ve come close, there’s a Todd Rundgren song from 1989, but it seems Todd is writing about a lover who he’s planning to wait out to return to him:

Neil confesses, he barely remembers this song, if at all… much preferring ‘Hello, It’s Me’; ‘Can We Still Be Friends’; and that just for fun head banger: “Bang The Drum All Day” (“I don’t want to work, just want to bang on the drum all day!!”).

And never mind Todd, there’s now also “Banks”, a current generation artist who wrote and sang another version of ‘The Waiting Game’, in 2013 (and don’t expect Neil to know much about her, pretty much his knowledge of the music world hit a dead end when U2, REO Speedwagon, Dire Straits, and The Police were spitting out winners…) Honestly, neither Todd Rundgren nor Banks really seem to understand, or sing about what we are experiencing here at the Bluebird Hill Farm Vineyard at the end of July here in 2022: waiting for grapes, waiting for them to swell, to change color from green to red, and then to magically fill with sugar and tannic acid, allowing us to make our estate wines, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Rosé, and Pinot noir.

And we’re behind schedule… we are playing a waiting game…

So now we’re in a race this summer. Remember, we wrote in earlier posts this spring, about that nasty April 15 frost, which occurred a week or so after bud break? Well, the dust has settled from that, and here is our prognosis, as we see things at the very end of July: First, we are very, VERY lucky the frost did not irrevocably damage our emerging buds, yield is going to be good; Second, the clusters look very good right now best look; but Third, we are perhaps two or three weeks behind schedule compared to the harvests of the past four or five years.

And that last point, point three, brings us back to The Waiting Game… We’ve enjoyed some great harvests over the past few years, a couple of challenges with bird pressure that we managed to fight off, but generally, pleasant weather, mostly dry, when we did have rain, it was occasional, and we were able to schedule picks around the rain. But now, this year, we are looking at an October harvest, mid-October. This means at least two or three things are going to be more likely at harvest: the beginning of the fall rains; arrival of our feathered friends, the Cedar Waxwings, Robins, and Starlings; and cooler weather.

Now maybe we are worrying about nothing – I’m reminded of a friend telling me, about ten years after the fact, about the stellar 2008 Willamette Valley Pinot noir vintage: “Neil, we had a nice September, and the month ended and we then transitioned into October and enjoyed four weeks of sunny, dry weather. Everything ripened perfectly… the wines were some of the best ever!”

So, that the wait, our 2022 Waiting Game. The vineyard looks really awesome – Nick has taken the lead to hedge and direct leaf pulling, and our newer folks, Tommy and Ula, have helped get the leaves pulled off the ‘fruiting zone’, so that every day, our developing grapes get more sunshine and more heat, which hopefully will push them to a slightly earlier harvest!

So maybe it does apply, Todd’s lyrics:

“I'll play your waiting game - I'm gonna win the win the waiting game - I'll play your waiting game - I'm gonna win this game, my friend… “

Regardless, we’ve got our fingers and toes crossed!

Other news:

Last Call for Golf Outing: The first-ever “Bluebird Invitational” is scheduled for Monday August 15, and the ‘ball’s in the air’ at 1:00 pm. We STILL have a very limited set of openings for one or two teams, and some single and pairs of golfers. Let us know NOW if you would like to participate. Entries will close soon… Would you like to be a hole sponsor – or provide a raffle prize? The funds we do raise will go to our local charities like the South Benton County Food Pantry and our Monroe Relief Nursery partnered with Old Mill School of Corvallis. One change about our previous posting about the event – we are replacing the dinner after the game with a free social at the winery at 7:00 pm. We’ll be serving Bluebird Hill wines, ice cold beer, good music, and snacks. We anticipate the schedule at Corvallis Club (Corvallis Country Club) will be to finish golf around 5:30 pm, and present awards and raffle prizes from 6:00 – 6:30. Then, everyone can either head to the winery, or head home.

Fall Charity Auction: Many of you know, in part because of the Covid quarantine, we cancelled our 2020 and 2021 golf fundraisers, and instituted an online auction fundraiser to replace the charity activity of the golf. The first auction was in 2021, and this year’s auction will be in November. Please plan ahead, if you would like to use some of your 2022 giving dollars to our cause, or provide an auction prize for the event, please just let us know. We are partnered with our local United Way to help fund local activities in our community, helping South Benton County to be a better place to live…

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 in September!!


Revived in 2017 after a decade-long hiatus, the Sunset International Wine Competition is designed to attract all wineries interested in reaching the Western wine drinker and is juried by the best judges in the industry, who understand and appreciate the Western palate and lifestyle. Judges include winemakers, sommeliers, retail buyers, wine educators, and journalists. “Wine is central to the Sunset lifestyle, a passion of our audience, and a core part of the stories we tell," says Hugh Garvey, editor-in-chief at Sunset Publishing. “Every year, we look forward to sharing the results of the annual wine competition with our readers. This year saw a record number of entries, which is a testament to the talents and output of an industry we look to for inspiration and deliciousness. We’re grateful for the efforts of all who entered and raise a glass to the winners.” This year’s competition saw a field of more than 2,900 entries. We are pleased to announce that all three Bluebird Hill wines that were submitted to the competition received medals.

Upcoming Events:

Bluebird Golf Invitational Monday, August 15, 2022 AT 1 PM

Details above

Bluebird Hill Cellars Pinot on the Patio Saturday, August 20, 2022 from 5 PM – 8 PM

Join us for our sixth annual “Pinot on the Patio”, 5 - 8 pm Saturday, August 20, 2022. Pinot on the Patio is our flagship summer party event with a catered dinner and music by Craig Sorseth & Tom West- The HipBillys. They’re 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. Tickets go on sale August 1, 2022. Your ticket price includes music and food. (GOLD Wine Club members receive four complimentary passes, SILVER Wine Club members receive two complimentary passes-to make Club member reservations, please contact us at (541) 424-2478). We will be closing ticket sales at midnight August 17. Dinner by Boss Hawgs BBQ-Your choice of Smoked Salmon or Beef Tri Tip served with a fruit tray, green salad with assorted dressings, cheesy taters and assorted cookies. Wine will be available for purchase by the glass or bottle.

Saturday, September 10, 2022 from 3 to 7 PM

Saturday, September 17, 2022 AT 1 PM – 5 PM

October 22 & 23 and 29 & 30, 2022 from 12 to 5 PM

Local Wine Club members can stop by Bluebird Hill Cellars anytime October 22-23 or 29-30, 2022 during tasting room hours to pick up their Wine Club allocation. There will be free Brats, Sauerkraut and potato salad for wine club members. We will also have a tasting flight of our Pre-Release wines available for wine club members only (Club members will also have the opportunity to purchase these wines before they are available to the public). We are continuing to let club members choose which wines they would like to have in their allotment. 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.

Tasting Room hours through October

Reservations appreciated

​May through October:

Friday: 3-7; Sat/Sun: Noon – 5

Outdoors and seated tastings. Picnics welcome.

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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