We have to be honest; we received the news of our county being approved for ‘Phase One’ of reopening of businesses with equal parts of relief and anxiety. The relief is of course in response to the end of the eight weeks of quarantine we have gone through here at Bluebird Hill. We have tried in good faith to take care of ourselves, our employees and neighbors, and everyone else by staying home as much as possible. With both Neil and Sue able to work from home, we have tried to make as few trips out as possible. The anxiety comes with making sure we keep everyone safe: owners and staff, and very importantly, our customers.
As of today (Friday May 15), we plan to reopen on Friday May 22 at 3:00 pm, and be open for the holiday weekend, Friday through Monday. We will be keeping our prior Friday hours, open 3:00 – 7:00, and otherwise the tasting room is open noon to 5:00. After this holiday weekend, we will be open for the season, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
With that said, there will be major differences to maintain safe distancing and safe service procedures. First, until further notice, all visits will be by reservation for parties up to six people maximum. We are lucky that we have enough space within our outdoor patio area that we will be able to sit four or five parties at different tables, with at least ten feet or more of distance between groups. Sue, Neil, and the rest of the staff will be wearing masks, and we would prefer it if our guests arrive with masks on and keep them on until they get seated at their table. Guests will need to arrive at or very close to the time of their reservation to avoid entering the property near other entering or departing guests. Other procedures will be used to avoid coming into close contact with anyone except the people in your own party. We will be serving wines in glass carafes so that all the wines to be tasted can be loaded onto a sanitized plastic tray. There also will be no indoor seating whatsoever, so consider all of this ‘weather permitting’.
We are excited for you to come out and try our new releases and wines released last fall that you may have not tasted yet. The 2019 Pinot Gris and Rosé are quite nice, everyone who has tasted them is ‘two thumbs up’. Also on the docket is our 2018 Chardonnay, this was released in February and due to the quarantine, not many of you out there have tasted it. We are happy to let you know that this wine just scored 91 points at Wine Enthusiast magazine and was also called out as an “Editors’ Choice”, which per W.E., denotes excellent value at its price point. Also brand-new is the 2017 Red Blend (2:1 Syrah/Pinot Noir) and the 2017 Syrah. The Syrah in both wines is from the Horse Heaven Hills AVA in the Columbia Valley, Washington, and they are already proving to be food-friendly red wines. So, if you like to drink red wines a bit bigger than Pinot, these are for you! On to the Pinot Noirs, we are going to be pouring three for the near future, the 2016 Willamette Valley PN, and our Estate Reserve (100% Bluebird Hill Fruit) and our Willamette Valley Reserve (50% Zenith Vineyard/50% Walnut Ridge Vineyard). All three of these have judged well, with golds and double golds between them. At the end of our tastings will be our most recent ‘Birdhouse’ dessert wine, this white wine is pleasantly sweet and is a blend of Pinot Gris and Rainier Cherry wine.
We’re going to try out something new for 2020, regarding the wine list and tastings. Knowing that we offer a significant number of different wines (can there be such a thing as too many different wines’?), we are going to be offering flights of four, six, or all nine wines, priced progressively from $10. And some very good news: in 2020, all current wine club members get two free tastings of any of the three flights.
More good news: wine is still on sale at Bluebird Hill! We are offering these current promotions through the end of May:
2017 Pinot Noir (Nov. 2019 OWP Cellar Select; Savor-Cannon Beach Dbl. Gold/96 pts) $32
2017 WV Reserve Pinot Noir (May 2020 OWP Cellar Select; Savor-Cannon Beach Dbl. Gold/96 pts.) $49
2018 Chardonnay (91 points Wine Enthusiast – Editors’ Choice) $32
This three bottle set can be purchased in of one (3 bottles), two (6 bottles), or four (12 bottles) at 20%, 25%, or 30% off, respectively, in other words: buy three: was $113, now $90; buy six bottles: was $226, now $170; or buy twelve bottles: Was $452, now $316
Library Pinot Pack:
2014 Zenith Vineyard: $59 [Our first PN ever, this wine was an OR Wine Press Cellar Select, November 2016)
2015 Reserve Pinot Noir: $59 [Production of this wine was only 25 cases!]
2016 Zenith Vineyard Reserve Pinot Noir: $59 [Only 25 cases produced, scored at 91 points by the Pinot File]
Total: $177 – on sale for May only: $139
Library Chardonnay Pack:
2015 Reserve: $59 [Our first Chardonnay vintage was 2015 – only 25 cases of this reserve were bottled!]
2016 Chardonnay: $59 [Gold at SF Chronicle, Newport, Savor NW, & Oregon Wine Comp; 90 points W.E.]
2017 Chardonnay: $59 [Gold at SF Chronicle, scored 93 points-PinotFile, Double Gold at Wine Press NW]
Total: $177 – on sale in May only: $139
These wine specials are only good for the month of May, for pickup or local delivery. We can ship orders at this sale pricing plus your shipping cost; this discount is not stackable with our $1 shipping discount promotion. To take advantage of these special discounts for local pickup and delivery, please call us at (541) 424-2478 or email us at email@example.com .
As we mentioned in April’s blog, the spring has been really, really nice, a pleasant mix of sunny, seasonally warm days, and occasional rainy days with a lot of light rain and nothing in the way of monsoon type battering rain. We had one rain last week, the drops were small, and there was no wind, it was almost as if the raindrops were drifting down more like snowflakes than rain. The property is looking good and the vines are growing like crazy. In most spots, they are already up to the second fixed wire, and we just raised up the catch wires everywhere to help keep the vines nice and straight. We have put away the rototiller for the season, tuned up the sprayer, and already have one application of organic sulfur on the vines.
In the winery, we are liking the way the 2019 Pinot Noir is smoothing out in barrel, and the 2019 Chardonnay promises to be very good, too. We have 2018 Pinot on deck, to be bottled later this year, and the 19’s will be racked and blended in June or July and go back into barrel for another year. Interestingly, we came across a survey of winemakers recently, regarding the ‘élevage’ of Pinot noir. This French word may come closest to ‘raising’ in English, and regarding winemaking, refers to the process of taking the raw, fermented wine into barrel, and taking care of it all the way through to bottling. Wise winemaking decisions along the way help that wine reach its potential. Regarding elevage at Bluebird Hill, one of the practices we are following, is a long period of barrel aging. For example, our 2017 Pinot noirs (we have four), were barrel aged for 22 to 24 months. This practice, according to that survey, is only done at ~5% of all Pinot-producing wineries. We hope we can maintain this practice, although it makes space in the barrel room hard to find, we like the influence on mouth feel that the barrel aging produces. Typically, we stir the barrels for up to ~6 months in the first year, rack and blend after the first year, and return to barrel for the second year, essentially just letting the wine rest – comfortably, we hope!
Something else new, not really winery related, but Neil has been putting in a new garden tucked along the fence on the northeast corner of the property. This was a rough area up until this spring very uneven and about a dozen large depressions where he had some Ponderosa Pine stumps ground out a couple of years ago. We rototilled the area until the soil was fluffy and smooth, with the intention of planting some grass, but decided just a couple of weeks ago to turn into one whopping big vegetable garden. It’s not very wide, only about 12 feet wide, but it is pretty long, about 175 feet. A black poly plastic pipe will provide water in the garden throughout the season, so we hope it will be easy to keep all those plants happy all summer long. Probably we will be contributing to the annual ‘zucchini glut’ that happens in these parts every August.
So, we have gone on long enough about things out our way. Let us know what is happening with you. If you have not been out to Bluebird Hill in a while, send us an email or give us a ring to let us know what is up with you. We know many of you are not going to be comfortable yet, heading out to wineries, restaurants, or other businesses, so just remember we are always happy to set up a curbside pickup or do a local delivery. If you can make it out, we are going to do our very best to make sure you have a great time in a safe environment, all things considered.
Thank you for continuing to support small, independent wineries in this difficult time. We appreciate you all and look forward to raising a glass of wine with you soon.
Neil & Sue Shay