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  • Writer's pictureNeil & Sue Shay


It snuck up on us, month by month, but it turns out we took a ‘winter break’ from blogging.  Wasn’t intentional, but we’ve been keeping busy in the vineyard, the winery, and out in the marketplace.  So we have a fair amount to catch you up on, so read on: 


Vineyard Update – Spring 2024

We experienced bud break in mid-April; this is a very typical time, not too early, not too late. We thankfully escaped any unusual late frosts (as happened on tax day, April 15, 2022), and as of early May everything out there is looking really great, we are already seeing the flower buds forming; flowering is several weeks away… Pruning went well in February and March, as in past years, we mulched up all the pruned shoots from 2023 and they are now in little tiny pieces in the vine rows and ultimately will degrade and release their nutrients back into our soil.

Tommy is taking the lead out in the vineyard this year; we are grateful for the great work by Josh and Tommy in 2023; and by Nick and many others in the years prior to that. Every year, things look better and better in our young vineyard, on your next trip out, we can arrange a tour for you to walk through the vineyard with Neil, Sue, or Tommy. Let us know in advance if you’d like to do this, so we can arrange it!


Maybe the biggest news, the most exciting to us, is the recent news that Bluebird Hill Cellars was named ‘Oregon Winery to Watch, 2024’ by Great Northwest Wines.  GNWW has been around for decades, and focuses largely on wines produced in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, they also convene the annual GNWW Platinum Competition, in which gold medal-winning wines may enter and compete for Platinum and Double Platinum medals.  In part, based on our showing in this judging over the past five years (9 Platinums in 5 years), GNWW selected us as their Oregon Winery to Watch this year.  It’s a big honor and humbling to now be a part of a set of only about 25 wineries, only one winery in the state is given this honor each year, some of the past winners include the likes of Reustle and Zerba.  Keep an eye out for the date, we are planning a celebration at the winery in June…

Here is the press release announcing their pick:

The magazine article with the feature article will be out in May, stay tuned! 

In other news over the winter, we scored well at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition – we sent in five wines to be judged and scored on all five:  Double Gold (’21 Barrel Select PN); Gold (’21 Flagship PN and ’21 Reserve Chardonnay); and Silver (’21 Chardonnay and ’23 Birdhouse Cherry Port).  For the first time ever, Neil and Sue attended the ‘Grand Tasting’ for the SFCWC, held at Fort Mason on the north side of San Francisco. 

Other recent scores and awards included another double Gold at the Portland Seafood and Wine Competition (’21 South Block Reserve PN), a 92 point score for the ’21 Reserve Chardonnay from Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and 92 Points for the’21 Reserve Chardonnay and Barrel Select PN from James Suckling.  Most recently, from the Astoria-Warrenton Seafood and Wine Festival, we received a gold medal for our ’21 Red Wine Blend, and silvers for the ’21 Chardonnay and ’21 Barrel Select PN. 


Normally, we try to have all our new releases ready for Memorial Day Weekend, somehow this year we are ahead of schedule and have the 2023 Rosé and Pinot Gris ready to go!  Both are 100% estate and the word on the street is that they are both outstanding!  The rosé is a blend of Bluebird’s five clones of Pinot Noir (115, 667, 777, Pommard, and Wadenswil) and is expressing beautiful floral notes on the

nose, and soft, clean fruit flavors on the palate.  The gris is crisp and clean, with nuances of pear, apple, and white peach.  Both of these wines were cool fermented last fall, just barely warm enough to keep the yeast going; our experience with these cool-fermented whites and rosés is that this process keeps the wines as fresh as possible, and minimizes the potential to wind up with ‘cooked’ fruit flavors in your wine…  

Along with the PG and Rosé, we are also extremely pleased to have a full lineup of 2021 Pinots for your tasting pleasure:  the Flagship PN is 100% estate, five clones, and already a multiple gold medal winner.  The reserves for 2021 include the standbys from the past several years:  South Block; Mom’s; and Zenith, and we’re excited to be bringing back the ‘Barrel Select’ after an absence of several years, the ’21 Barrel Select is exception, already a multiple award winner and 92 pointer, and was created by combining six outstanding PN barrels from 2021:  two each from the South Block, Mom’s, and Zenith Vineyard PNs.  If you have not visited lately, you may also find our 2023 Birdhouse Dessert Wine new to you, this is a true port-style wine, fortified to 19% alcohol, and the wine base is a most unusual 50-50 blend of Pinot noir and Bing Cherry wine. 

So the bottom line is, the next time you come out to taste, we will have some great wines to put out in front of you!  Make a plan to come out!


Upcoming events

We are in the process of nailing down our event dates for the summer.  With Covid seeming to diminish in the rear view mirror, we are pleased to announce that we are going to have monthly wine club parties, they will be on weekend evenings, 5-8,  after the regular tasting room hours close at 5 pm:  each event will have a different theme: trivia night; clone tasting and blending; pot luck appetizer night; etc.  Additionally, plan for our regular ‘Mom’s get roses at Bluebird Hill’ (and free tasting!) on Mother’s Day; another offering of our library/vertical tastings; and Pinot on the Patio.  The sound system is up for the spring; Neil promises in 2024 to feature a regular rotation of classics from the world of rock, pop, country, and more (no truth to the rumor that we booked Steely Dan for a live event, not gonna happen!). 

Also a friendly reminder, our outdoor tasting area is available for private parties all summer long, contact Sue to book your special event for your friends and family.  In the past, we have hosted anniversaries, graduations, renewal of vows, birthdays, and more! 

Upcoming Wine Club Events:

Do PN clones really matter?  At Bluebird Hill, we grow a mix of Dijon clones 115, 667, and 777, plus the Pommard and Wadenswil clones.  Some wine experts will tell you that certain clonal blends work better together than others.  Each attendee will be provided with five sample wines of each clone; after tasting each and recording notes, you will prepare and taste various clonal blends; and advance your best tasting blend to a ‘grand tasting’ to be sampled by all in attendance.  Winner(s) will receive Bluebird Hill logo prizes. 


Attendees will sample an assortment of wines from Portugal; Sue and Neil will share a short slide presentation from their May trip to Portugal and river cruise of the Douro River Valley.  Enjoy Neil’s grilled spicy salmon; attendees are asked to contribute to a pot-luck salad bar by bringing a cold summer salad of your choosing suitable for ~6 people. 


Enjoy grilled burgers and dogs while the trivia master in attendance will provide guests with a variety of questions about wine AND popular music from the ‘Big  80’s’ 


Test your wine tasting acumen by sampling and then identifying a set of well-known varietals hiding from plain view in brown bags.  Winners will receive Bluebird Hill logo items.  Enjoy a main entrée from the grill; attendees are asked to contribute to a pot-luck salad bar by bringing a cold summer salad of your choosing suitable for ~6 people. 


We want to thank everyone for helping to make Bluebird Hill a success!  It is not easy to operate in a rural area like Alpine Village outside of Monroe, we know it is a drive for many of you, we always try to make your visit special and enjoy seeing both newbies to BBHC and our good friends who have visited many times.  This summer, Sue and Neil will be around as usual, Tommy and Erin will be helping routinely in the tasting room on weekends.  Summer hours will be Thursday – Sunday, noon to 5:00 pm. 

We are also very grateful for the restaurants and shops that are supporting our local winemaking efforts, we love it when we see local establishments featuring our wine, and also the wine from other local winemakers!!  We are grateful to Benny’s Pizza in Monroe, to del Alma, Corazon, Magenta, and Taco Vino in Corvallis, and North Fork Public House in Eugene.  The list of wine shops is longer, and we will specifically call them all out and thank them in our next blog post, so look for that.  Visit our website for an up to date list on where to find our wines. We always appreciate seeing friends post pictures of dinners – both at restaurants and in their homes, with a bottle or two of Bluebird Hill wine on the table.  Thank you all! 

In the short-term, we have some travel in mid-May, but plan to around the property for most of the spring and summer – we hope to see you all out in the near future!!

Best always,

Neil and Sue Shay

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