Bio - Ted Casteel - Vineyard Manager
- Posted on April 09 2011, 11:16 am
- Posted by BHV Blog
Ted Casteel gave up teaching history at the University of Michigan to grow grapes in Oregon more than thirty years ago and has never looked back. He developed the original fifty-acre Bethel Heights estate vineyard in the late 1970’s, and those 30-year-old own-rooted vines still provide the backbone of our Pinot noir production. In 1999 twenty new acres became available adjacent to Bethel Heights, giving Ted the opportunity to plant Justice Vineyard, using all the latest clones, rootstocks, vine spacing and trellising. In 2008, Ted and his daughter Mimi planted another new vineyard, Ingram Lane on the east slopes of the Eola Hills, bringing the total estate acres to 100.
Ted’s commitment to continual improvement of wine quality made him an early adopter of the rigorous crop control and intensive canopy management practices that have become industry standards over the years. And, from the beginning, Ted was committed to maintaining biological diversity and ecological balance on the whole farm, minimizing the use of “off-farm” inputs such as fungicides, synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and diesel. “Our family were all environmentalists before we became farmers,” he points out. Trying to figure out how to make these principles work on the ground, without compromising the quality of the fruit, was the impetus behind Ted’s leadership in the foundation of LIVE in 1997.
LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology), Oregon’s unique sustainable viticulture certification program, was the first and still is the only organization in the United States certified by the IOBC (International Organization for Biological and Integrated Control of Noxious Animals and Plants). Bethel Heights was among the first vineyards certified under the LIVE standards, and released the first LIVE certified wine in 1999. Ted served for many years on the Board of Directors and technical advisory committee of LIVE, which has grown to include almost thirty percent of the vineyard acres in Oregon.
Ted has been active in all of Oregon's key viticulture activities over the years. He has chaired the winegrape sessions of the Oregon Horticulture Society, the Grapevine Improvement Committee and the Research Committees of the Oregon Wine Advisory Board. He helped establish the Chemeketa Community College Viticulture Program, and edited two editions of the Oregon Winegrape Growers' Guide, still the fundamental how-to book for Oregon grape growers. He served as Chair of the Oregon Wine Advisory Board from 1991 To 1993 and again from 2002 to 2003, and helped create the Oregon Wine Institute.