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Ghost Hill Cellars

The legend of Ghost Hill dates to the early 1860s when Oregon was consumed by a gold rush. An old military trail that stretched from southern Oregon to Portland ran through what is now the Bayliss family farm. A miner was traveling the trail to Portland with a stash of gold and camped one night at what is now known as Ghost Hill. During the night, thieves killed the miner and stole his gold. The legend says that the miner’s ghost still wanders the hill looking for his stolen gold.

The Ghost Hill Cellars Bayliss-Bower Vineyard is part of the family’s 234-acre property on Savannah Ridge in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. The Bayliss family have been stewards of the land for more than a century. Initially, the farm was a dairy operation. When Samuel D. and Barbara Bayliss bought the farm in the 1930s from Samuel's father who came to the land in 1906 with his brother, they raised wheat, hay, clover, peas, sheep, and later beef cattle. Today, the vineyard is the only farm crop. Mike and Drenda Bayliss own the farm. Their children, Mike Bayliss, Jr., and daughter Bernadette Bower along with her husband Cameron Bower own the Ghost Hill Cellars brand and vineyard together.

The initial planting was in 1999, and today 15 acres of Pommard, Wädenswil, and Dijon 777, 114, and 115 are farmed. The vineyard has been managed by Buddy Beck of Advanced Vineyard Systems, Inc., since the beginning and is LIVE and Salmon-Safe certified. Some fruit is sold to other wineries including Lange and Elk Cove. The Ghost Hill Cellars wines, first released from the 2006 vintage, are 100% estate grown.

The winemaker is Rebecca Pittock-Shouldis who had her first exposure to wine as an exchange student with a family living near Bordeaux, France. The host father was a wine collector and Rebecca was able to drink many older vintages of French wine, quickly falling in love with “tasting history.” She did not pursue a career in wine initially, instead she became a maintenance technician on F-15 fighter aircraft for the Oregon Air National Guard. In 2005, she left that job (although she remained a member of the Air National Guard) to enter the wine business. She did not have a formal winemaking education, but had a knack for crafting wine, and learned quickly. In 2008, she made her first wine for Ghost Hill Cellars, and the wines have become quite popular. The winery was chosen to participate in the 2012 International Pinot Noir Celebration, and Rebecca was panelist at the “Burgundy & Oregon: Parallels in Latitudes” Seminar at this year’s World of Pinot Noir.

I met Rebecca, Drenda Bayliss and Mike Bayliss at the intimate tasting room adjacent the original farmhouse on the property. Mike Bayliss and son Mike, Jr., built the tasting room which has a sliding barn door and reclaimed windows from the Trappist Abbey Church in Carlton. The structure is reminiscent of a prospector’s shack. From the weekend after Memorial Day through Labor Day, the tasting room is open Saturday and Sunday, and year-round by appointment. Visit for information and to purchase wine.

Shown below are (right to left) Rebecca Pittock-Shouldis, Drenda Bayliss, and Mike Bayliss.

2012 Ghost Hill Cellars Yamhill Carlton Pinot Noir Blanc

13.5% alc., pH 3.40, 416 cases, $25, screwcap. Produced since 2010 from young clone 115 vines. Whole cluster pressed into 100% stainless steel. Cool fermentation over 5 months on lees until it was filtered 3 days before bottling. · Pale rose with a gold cast in the glass. Aromas of apple and peach are echoed in the flavors with an added touch of red berry. Boisterous and complex with a lively cut of acidity. Pinot Noir Blanc always challenges the senses. Score: 89

2013 Ghost Hill Cellars “Spirit of Pinot Noir” Yamhill-Carlton Rosé

13.0% alc., pH 3.43, 156 cases, screwcap, $20. 50% saignée and 50% a byproduct of Pinot Noir Blanc pressing. Aged 6 months on lees with stirring in stainless steel. · Modest pink color in the glass. A crisp, lively wine with aromas and flavors of strawberry, blood orange, orange zest and cranberry. Satisfying, with some fruit dancing on the finish. Score: 88

2011 Ghost Hill Cellars Bayliss-Bower Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., pH 3.69, 300 cases, $42. Clones 114, Wädenswil, 777, and Pommard. 100% de-stemmed. Aged in 10% new French oak. 2012 International Pinot Noir Celebration Featured Wine. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely and spirited nose offering hi-tone aromas of cherry, dried herbs and spice. Middleweight flavors of dark cherry, sassafras, and savory herbs. Juicy and fresh, with a long, dry finish. Score: 90

2011 Ghost Hill Cellars Prospector’s Reserve Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.64, 100 cases, $55. A 5 barrel selection of clones 114, 777, Pommard and Wädenswill in about equal proportions. One new barrel. · Moderately light reddish purple hue in the glass. Very deep and enticing cherry aroma with a rose petal note. Discreetly concentrated core of cherry and raspberry fruit supported by fine-grain tannins and balanced acidity. Barrel management is spot on and the finish is particularly noteworthy for its persistence. Score: 92

2008 Ghost Hill Cellars Bayliss-Bower Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir

13.5%, re-release of 14 cases, $62. 100% free-run juice. Rebecca’s first wine at Ghost Hill Cellars. Some held back because the 2009 vintage was so fruit-forward and released again in May 2014 to Wine Club. · Medium reddish purple color in the glass. Deep black cherry aromas with a swirl of raspberry and a hint of watermelon. Full-bodied and structured with a core of intensely flavored black cherries and dark raspberries with a touch of spice, herbs and oak. The finish is generous and lasts over 30 seconds. A special wine with many years ahead. Score: 92

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