Running water: A quiet stream runs through the gulley in forested quiet of Bethel Heights Vineyard.
Soaking up the sun: Our solar panels return about 40% of our electricity, powering the winery and two family homes on the vineyard property.
Stewards of the land: Sustainability figures into many parts of winery life at Bethel Heights, from plants and grasses allowed to thrive naturally to our Solar Nation solar panels that help keep our electricity in the family.
Sustainably Grown Wine
When our family arrived at Bethel Heights in 1977 we found a flourishing ecosystem in place: healthy living soils, a stream running through a shady ravine fed by a pure clean spring, and a rich diversity of wildlife with which we have learned to co-habit. Above all else we have sought to grow our grapes and make our wine without diminishing the life of this place.
Bethel Heights has long been on the forefront in the fight for farmland protection in Oregon, a never-ending battle against urban sprawl. We were one of the first vineyards certified Salmon Safe in 1997, representing a commitment to protect clean water in agricultural landscapes.
Ted Casteel of Bethel Heights was one of the founders of Oregon's LIVE Certified Sustainable, a rigorous, landscape level sustainability certification program for vineyards inaugurated in 1999, which now certifies more than 40% of all the vineyard acres in Oregon. In 2008 when LIVE launched an equally rigorous certification program for winery production practices – a program unique in the world –Bethel Heights was one of the first participants. Mimi Casteel currently serves on the LIVE Board of Directors.
Experiments in sustainability abound at Bethel Heights. We are always looking for ways to improve: improving the habitat for beneficial insects in our vineyards, brewing compost tea to boost the immune systems of our vines, measuring mildew blooms to reduce the number of mildew sprays.
In the winery we're beginning to address the next phase of carbon neutrality and water conservation: solar panels installed in 2010 (you can see our solar monitor in action here), conversion to new steam cleaning equipment in 2012, conversion to lighter weight bottles ongoing. It’s all about the details.
At times it makes us uncomfortable to say that our wines are certified sustainable, when it is clear that there are many aspects of sustainability that we have not even addressed, let alone achieved. But we are here for the long haul.