Gnarly old vines, geologically complex hillside soils, and direct impact from Æolian winds, all conspire to create highly energized wines with firm backbones, depth of character, and distinctive personalities. Fourteen different bottlings of estate grown Pinot noir and Chardonnay each year barely begin to tell the tale.
ESTATE PINOT NOIR AND CHARDONNAY
Since 1984, our Estate Pinot Noir and Estate Chardonnay have been the most transparent statement of Bethel Heights terroir that we produce, the sum of all its parts. Old vine storytelling delivered with tension and energy – these wines are the foundation of our house.
ÆOLIAN PINOT NOIR
Launched in 2012, Æolian is the expression our new-generation Pinot noir, our vehicle to explore younger sections of our estate vineyard planted between 1994 and 2002. Now come of age, these young vines have new stories to tell about this place, and a new generation of winegrowers to hear them.
This wine is named for the wind that defines our Eola-Amity Hills AVA.
CASTEEL PINOT NOIR AND CHARDONNAY
This is the only Bethel Heights Pinot noir that carries our family name rather than a place name, giving us the freedom to choose a few of our favorite barrels to create the wine that expresses the epitome of each vintage at Bethel Heights.
JUSTICE PINOT NOIR AND CHARDONNAY
Marrying volcanic topsoil with the ancient sea-floor beneath, our Justice Vineyard tells a captivating tale of two soils, producing wines with a taut, vibrating structure enveloped in ample flesh.
The first vines were planted at Bethel Heights between 1977 and 1979. The Flat Block, the Southeast Block and the West Block are some of the last own-rooted vinifera vines surviving anywhere in the world. The roots of these old vines have grown down and explored our rocky volcanic soil for over thirty-eight years, producing wines that are defined more by their place, than by vintage or by the hand of the winemaker.
FLAT BLOCK PINOT NOIR
The Flat Block is a three-acre section of our Estate vineyard planted in 1979 to own-rooted Pinot noir of the classic Pommard selection on shallow, gravelly soil. For more than 20 years it has given us refined, elegant wines, beautifully balanced, with a specificity of aroma and flavor unique to this place.
SOUTHEAST BLOCK PINOT NOIR
The Southeast Block, planted in 1979 to the Pommard selection of Pinot noir, gives us wines with a firm backbone, robust savory fruit, and a deep minerality
unique to this place. It has produced a block-designated wine from every vintage since 1991.
WEST BLOCK PINOT NOIR
The West Block was planted in 1977 to Pinot noir of the heritage Wädenswil clone. Fraught with overlapping layers, both restless and brooding, this wine’s mysterious tension speaks to the Heathcliff in all of us.
What are designated vineyard blocks but arbitrary lines in the sand, drawn for the convenience of tractors? What happens when the lines begin to blur, when other more ancient realities begin to assert themselves – layers of geologic and organic evolution, patterns of wind and sun, all running crosswise and sideways to your neat grid of lines and squares? When the vines finally discover those underlying realities, and bring them forth into wine, then it’s time to go put something new in the bottle. 2014 was the inaugural vintage for this new series: The Shallows, The Cauldron, The Currents, and The High Wire.
These four new wines were created by Winemaker Ben Casteel to express his interpretation of the vineyard where he grew up as it enters its fifth decade. Fewer than 125 cases of each wine were produced and they are available only at the winery. Our “Beyond the Blocks” private tasting is the ultimate Bethel Heights terroir tasting.
THE SHALLOWS PINOT NOIR
Perched on a rocky bench with only a slight skim of soil over bedrock, vines planted in The Shallows find their foothold deep in the interstices between basalt boulders. Their tenacity yields wines of purity, subtlety and elegance.
THE CURRENTS PINOT NOIR
There is a certain place on the lower west side of our vineyard where subtle fluctuations of cool and warm air currents flow through the vines. We feel them when we walk there in the summer, as if we were stepping into the sea, and we can taste them in this wine.
THE CAULDRON PINOT NOIR
Protected from wind, basking in warmth, feasting on deep soil tipped into the pot from the rocky slopes above, the vines of The Cauldron are the pampered children of Bethel Heights. In return, they give us tender, juicy, exuberant wines.
THE HIGH WIRE CHARDONNAY
Standing conspicuously tall above the surrounding stubby little French-style vines, the High Wire Chardonnay is a magnificent anachronism. Planted in 1977 to the pre-Prohibition “Wente clone,” on a 1970’s trellis (the California Sprawl), the High Wire was long disparaged as the ugly duckling of the vineyard. It stubbornly resisted all attempts to graft it over or re-train it into submission, and the ugly duckling ultimately grew into the regal long-necked swan that it was meant to be.
Pinot blanc is rarity in Oregon with only 260 acres planted state-wide. Our four acres at Bethel Heights planted in 1992 give us wines that are at once bright and vivacious, but also elusive and subtle.
Our Estate Pinot Gris from 23-year- old vines, planted in the coolest section of our vineyard, holds on to its bright vivacity even in the warmest vintages. This is a rich, textured wine – dry, but with ample fruit – a perfectly balanced tension.