BETHEL HEIGHTS A Pioneer Reaches the Pinnacle in Oregon
Bethel Heights Vineyard grows its grapes on 103 acres in the Eola- Amity Hills AVA, a windy area just north of Salem, the state capital. The family-owned winery is an Oregon pioneer, founded in 1977, and all its wines are produced from estate-owned vineyards. Cousins and co-owners Ben and Mimi Casteel represent the second generation of the winery’s founding Casteel, Dudley and Webb families. Ben, the winemaker, pursues a light and delicate style, decidedly old-school, putting the emphasis on fruit flavors and intensity and delivering a marvelous sense of weightlessness in the wines.
The original Bethel Heights vineyard and the adjacent Justice Vineyard, which was planted in 1999, cover 74 acres on the undulating western slopes of the Eola Hills. Ingram Lane, planted in 2008, tucks into rolling hills on the eastern side of the AVA. The winery specializes in Pinot Noir from specific blocks within these three vineyard sites. The family now makes more than 2,000 cases of an entry-level estate Pinot Noir, and more than 1,000 cases of an estate Chardonnay. Smaller lots, including the Casteel Reserve (a blend of selected barrels) and single-block bottlings, go for a bit more. A stunning wine called Æolian is sourced from recent plantings in windy portions of the estate vineyard.
Other bottlings, such as Flat Block, West Block and Southeast Block, each made from specific sections of estate vineyards, demonstrate the differences in flavor and structure that can come from plots literally feet apart. These contrasts are much like those found in Burgundy.
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