Official Review: Ghost Hill Cellars – Carlton, OR

by The Traveling Winers

Right in the heart of Oregon wine country, specifically located in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA of the Willamette Valley, sits a quaint little winery with a spooky legend. Mike and Drenda Bayliss own this treasure along with the original Bayliss homestead, the 240 surrounding acres and the ghost story that goes along with it. Of those 240 acres, 15 1/2 are planted to Pinot Noir vines which keep the couple supplied with enough fruit to produce their own label and sell the remaining grapes to other local wineries. Their ghost story, on the other hand, is theirs to keep. And Mike and Drenda, with their contagious sense of humor, tell the story oh so well.


Ghost Hill Cellars Beginnings

It starts off with Drenda saying, “Oh boy! If these walls could talk!” It turns out that she’s referring to the walls of their family house which was built in 1906 by Mike’s grandfather and great uncle and in which Mike and Drenda still reside. Drenda tells the story about the “unique” method in which their current basement was made. According to Drenda, the house was originally built without a basement and somewhere along the line, it was decided that one was needed. So the project began. It began with Mike’s father and his two brothers hand digging the basement day after day after day. Again, somewhere along the line, this became quite tiresome and the trio decided that enough was enough. One day, while the grandfather was upstairs asleep the three boys in their ultimate wisdom, decided to dynamite the basement to hurry things along. The end result? Grandfather falling out of bed shouting like a madman and the boys running to escape his wrath not returning home for a week! Mike adds in his dry humor to Drenda’s rendition, “And a really short ceiling!”

But now back to grapes. Over the years, the land remained in the family being passed down from son to son. It has been a dairy farm and a cattle ranch, and has been used to grow wheat, hay, clover, peas, and sheep. And in 1999 the crop changed once more to grapes, with an expansion to wines in 2005. Watch this quick video as Mike tells the story in original Mike fashion!

Spookiness in Younder Hills

Now, for what you have been waiting so patiently for….the ghost legend. We’re not going to attempt to retell the story. We will let Mike and Drenda do the honors as they have it down so well! Let’s just say, “It’s one spoooooooooky tale!”

Their Wine – Pinot, Pinot and more Pinot

They only make Pinot. BUT…it’s GOOD PINOT! 🙂 And one is quite unique. They make a Pinot Noir Blanc. Not very common, for sure. None of the Traveling Winers could remember ever tasting a Pinot Noir Blanc before and our Hippy Winer, Elizabeth, absolutely fell in love with its crispness. This wine was whole cluster pressed, fermented to complete dryness and aged on the lees in stainless steel tanks. Hence, crisp flavors with soft round textures to make this a most interesting version of the Pinot Noir grape. Learn more about whole cluster press from Mike in this video below.

They also produce a Pinot Noir Rosé , their Bayliss – Bower which is a blend of 4 Pinot Noir clones ( 45% Pommard, 20% Dijon Clone 777, 20% Dijon Clone 114 and 15% Wädenswil) each contributing various desireable flavor aspects, and their Prospector’s Reserve which is also a blend of the 4 clones but from very select barrels that portray the best of the vineyard.


Oh, and we forgot to mention, the tasting room is built to resemble a prospector’s shack. Way cute! So, go see Mike and Drenda and, if you have the courage, their prospector ghost. We will keep you in our thoughts and hope all goes well! (ooohhh – ooohhh – ooohhh!) Boo!





Tom Joe
“Hops ‘r Better” Winer

Not being svelte with words to describe why I like wine in general, I tend to select wines based on a story. And, as this winery name suggests, Ghost Hills Cellars have a wonderful story to make their wine memorable.

Changing from milk to wine may not be the most exciting part of the story, but the Legend definitely invokes a sense of adventure – exactly how I envision winemaking to be – and maybe, just maybe, their wonderful Pinot Noirs have a touch of “ghost” imbued throughout…

“Hippie” Winer

Ghost Hill was absolutely one of the best vineyards we’ve visited.  The Pinot Noir blanc was simply ‘scarey’ good with excellent clarity and a dry, crispiness that just made my mouth sooooo happy.

“This Is The Life” Winer

For me, this was one of those places that you just want to beg “Hey, can I adopt you as my second set of parents?” (or best friends or whatever! With the caveat, of course, that I could move onto the property. Mike and Drenda were just lovely people. Their location was, from my perspective, a dream come true. And they also make some darn good wine! What else could one want?!

“Timeless” Winer

Like Tom Joe said, ‘milk to wine, peas to grapes’ not the most exciting part of the story but all parts of the story are interesting and a great listen when you are lucky enough to tap a bottle of the Rose’, Bayliss-Bower.  Not really a Rose’ guy but this one was excellent and I am so glad the girls brought it back to sample.



The Winer’s Experience

Quaint, cute and fun! Combining the legend of the vineyards, the miner’s shack tasting room and the humor of Mike and Drenda, you can’t help but have a fun time. The winery tasting room is set on the same plot of land where the Bayliss’s reside. It is one of those times when go arrive and feel like you have “just come home”. The surrounding views of the hills, vineyards, valleys and mountains are nothing short of breathtaking. Again, quaint, cute and fun! Mike constructed the tasting room in the fashion of an ‘ole miner’s shack to go along with the legend of Ghost Hill. It’s kinda like going to a themed party – you just have to play along, smile from ear to ear and ask about the ghost story.
Very good and again, fun. The Bayliss’ take the time to walk you through your wine tasting and answer any questions you may have. They know their wines, for sure. Great, but you saw that in the videos. They are just awesome people! Boy, do they know farming! And does Drenda keep them all on track! (Watch the video, if you didn’t get that 🙂

Vineyard & Winery Information

 Ghost Hill Cellars 12220 NE Bayliss Road, Carlton, OR 97111
 Sat – Sun 12pm – 5pm
 No Yes $10
 No  No Bring a picnic lunch and a blanket and enjoy the countryside view!


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