Monday, July 10, 2017

A visit to Corvallis, OR and the BlueBird Hill Winery

Ellen,  J.E., and I made a little trip today down to Corvallis, OR and then on to Neil and Sue Shay's Bluebird Hill B&B and Winery just outside Corvallis in Monroe, OR. Neil is, of course, my son-in-law Rob's older brother. He and Sue are amazing in what they have done and are doing there at their home. When they bought it, about seven years ago or so, the house was surrounded by an old, overgrown Christmas tree farm. They cut down the trees, had the stumps removed, and learned in the process that they had a good potential for a vineyard. Neil's academic work had taught him something about viticulture, so they started planting. They now have over 5000 vines and have started to harvest their own grapes and make wine. They actually started making wine a couple of years ago using fruit from other vineyards, and each year adding a greater proportion from their own fruit; eventually, their wine will be made exclusively from their own fruit. Meanwhile, Sue has opened a B&B, with two guest rooms. The two of them are incredibly industrious! Neil still is teaching full-time at Oregon State, on top of running the vineyard. They have regular hours for tasting over the weekend, they have a growing clientele at the B&B, they are doing a big art fair this weekend to attract people to the farm - it is a going place. And it is really beautiful. A great place to visit and spend some time. And it is very reasonable too. The rate for one of their rooms is $109-135 depending on the season and time of week. That includes a full breakfast on the weekend and full use of a beautiful living room, kitchen and porch, grounds, etc.

Our trip took us to Corvallis, which is home to the Oregon State campus, and is an attractive small city. We took back roads from Salem, including a two-minute ride on the Buena Vista Ferry. We got coffee at a nice bakery downtown, and ate a little picnic lunch on some benches sort of overlooking the Willamette River (too many trees in the way to see the river). We also went into Robnett's Hardware store, an historic business and a wonderful old-fashioned store with creaking wooden floors. Then we went down to Neil and Sue's. It was a beautiful day, and the countryside was lovely - vineyards, orchards, hay fields, and other crops. After our two-hour visit, which included tasting four wines (!), we came back to Corvallis and had pizza on a rooftop at the American Dream Pizza restaurant. Good pizza! A great outing.

The Buena Vista Ferry
A short, happy cruise!
The amazing nuts and bolts display at Robnett's Hardware
A view of Neil and Sue's house from the vineyard
The view from the front porch
Talking with Sue on the porch
The final product
Future Pinot Noir wine - harvest is in September
Wine curing in the barrels
Larry, Ellen, Neil and Sue
Yummy feta cheese, artichoke and red pepper pizza

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