Ghost Hill Hires Hamacher

Carlton-area brand contracts with highly respected winemaker

Ghost Hill Cellars

Address: 12220 N.E. Bayliss Road, Carlton, OR 97111
Hours: Sat.–Sun., 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
(through Thanksgiving weekend)
Phone: 503-852-7347

By OWP Staff

Entering their 10th vintage, Mike and Drenda Bayliss, owners of Bayliss-Bower Vineyard and Ghost Hill Cellars, recently faced a serious dilemma: their winemaker, Rebecca Pittock-Shouldis, would not be available for the 2015 crush.

And for good reason.

Her ongoing, active career in aviation as a maintenance technician — working on the F-15 fighter aircraft — for the Oregon Air National Guard called her away for a four-month mission in Romania.

The Baylisses needed to find a quality winemaker and fast.

Enter Eric Hamacher.

“We believe we have a very special vineyard,” said Mike Bayliss. “We chose Eric because he knows the Bayliss-Bower Vineyard, really cares about the grapes and has been making wine from it for two years; not to mention, he is a nationally known winemaker.”

Hamacher is considered one of the Willamette Valley’s most respected and sought-after talents. Having earned a degree in viticulture and enology at University of California, Davis, in 1988, and worked more than 35 vintages at numerous wineries around the world, including esteemed brands such as Mondavi, Chalone and Etude, he realized his heart was in Oregon and moved north to focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. He launched Hamacher Wines in 1995 and, seven years later, co-founded Carlton Winemakers Studio.

Starting with the 2015 harvest, Hamacher will produce Ghost Hill’s wines — as well as blend and bottle the winery’s 2014s. His is a traditional approach to winemaking, exercising minimal intervention, wild fermentation yeasts and gravity blending and bottling.

“I believe the best wines are made by resisting the temptation to do something,” Hamacher said. “Good grapes with minimal handling describe my philosophy.”

In regard to Ghost Hill Cellars and Bayliss-Bower Vineyard, located in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, Hamacher says he’s really enjoyed being associated with the family.

“Mike and Drenda are charming people and so easy to work with,” Hamacher said. “The Bayliss-Bower Vineyard is a sweet property on Savannah Ridge next to the Ken Wright and Tony Soter vineyards. The area is known for luscious and rich, dark fruit resultant from sedimentary soils. I jumped at the chance to be involved with this 105-year family farm.”

The Baylisses anticipate an elevation of Ghost Hill with the hiring of Hamacher, re-branding efforts and plans to expand distribution with the help of their daughter, Bernadette Bayliss-Bower, and son-in-law, Cameron Bower. A new winery and tasting room constructed alongside the vines on the fifth-generation Century Farm — totaling 234 acres near Carlton — are also part of Ghost Hill’s current restructuring.

Meanwhile, the property’s intriguing tale requires no updates.

In the late 1800s, Oregon was in the middle of a gold rush. A miner, traveling to Portland with his hard-earned pouch of gold, camped for the night at the top of what is now known as Ghost Hill. While sleeping, the miner and his horse were killed, his gold stolen. To this day, the miner is said to be wandering the property searching for his poached treasure.


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