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Ghost Hill Cellars
Kathy Sullivan

Ghost Hill CellarsSummary: Ghost Hill Cellars is a small, artisan winery. For the Bayliss family, it is important for them to remain small. Their emphasis is on the land, the wine and the family. Ghost Hill Cellars' vineyards are certified Live and Salmon Safe.

The Ghost Hill Cellars tasting room is located on an established 5th generation family farm of 234 acres. The tasting room is close to Ghost Hill with a fascinating tale. This area has a story to tell that dates back to the days of the Gold Rush in Oregon. Mike and Drenda Bayliss and family wanted to keep the family farm in the family and sought to increase the likelihood of doing so by adding vineyards and a winery. Today the Bayliss family daughter is in charge of marketing and their son is in charge of the vineyard machinery.

At the time of our visit in late November, there was a chill in the air and we were invited to have our wine tasting and learn the story of Ghost Hill Cellars in a refurbished old farmhouse built by their grandfather in 1906.

Ghost Hill CellarsTasting Room

After our wine tasting, we had the opportunity to briefly visit the small, A-shaped, quaint tasting room built by the owners from materials on the farm including siding from a dilapidated barn. Steps leading up into the tasting room showcase a large fire opal found on the property.

The tasting room is located between the family home and the barn. The pink glass of the tasting room was from a restoration project at the nearby abbey. Mike worked at the abbey for decades. Although wine was never crafted at the abbey, at one time, wines were stored there.

The Ghost

Of interest to many people is Ghost Hill which can be seen from the front yard of the farm. The ghost dates back to the 1860s' Gold Rush when a prospector with a poke of gold camped on the hill one night. He was robbed of his gold and murdered. Seen by several people, the ghost has been on his horse looking for his gold and his murderer. It should be noted that no members of the Bayliss family claim to have seen the wandering ghost.

Ghost Hill CellarsVineyards

The whole family is in involved in the winery and vineyard. Planted in 1999, the vines are planted high on sloping hills across from the farmhouse and tasting room. The 15 1/2 acres are planted with Pinot Noir vines.The owners practice sustainable vineyard management including Salmon Safe and Live. Ninety acres are available for planting more vines.

Wine Tasting

While learning the Bayliss story, we tasted wines with them. Starting with the 2015 vintage, Ghost Hill wines will be produced by Eric Hamacher at Ponzi Estate Winery near Portland. The back wine label quotes Robert Frost, “The land was ours before we were the land’s.” This is followed by, “The Bayliss family has been a part of this land for more than 100 years. But, the spirit of this land is alive in these vines, has been here even longer.” Production of wines varies between 700 cases and 1,200 cases each year.

Ghost Hill CellarsAll of the wines tasted were from the Bayliss-Bower Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton AVA. The Pinot Noir Blanc 2013 had 13% alcohol. The wine was a light burnt orange color. The wine offered a red berry fruit aroma. The taste was of strawberries and red raspberries with a hint of citrus. The finish was crisp and fruit forward. Suggested pairings included seafood. Some consumers purchase this wine for Thanksgiving. The Spirit of Pinot Noir Rosé 2014 was 13.5% alcohol with a dark orange with a pink hue color. The wine offered notes of strawberry and the finish was crisp and refreshing. The winemaking protocol included 24 hours on the skins. This is a wine for a rocking chair on a porch. It was also suggested that this wine pairs with barbecue.

Pinot Noir 2012 with 13.5% alcohol was a translucent dark red colored wine. The wine had a red raspberry aroma. The taste reminded one of red raspberries and minerals. The mouthfeel was smooth. The wine was medium-bodied with medium tannins. The finish was crisp and fruity. Prospector’s Reserve Pinot Noir 2012 with 13.5% alcohol was a translucent dark red color. The aroma was of raspberries. The taste was smooth with raspberries and minerality. The wine was medium/full-bodied with medium tannins. The finish was crisp and fruity.

When you have the opportunity, visit Ghost Hill Cellars to taste the wines and hear first-hand about the ghost of Ghost Hill.

Ghost Hill Cellars
12220 NE Bayliss Rd
Carlton, Oregon 97111

GPS: 45º 16.955’ W123º 06.782’


Article written December 2015

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