Bethel Heights Wine At Bandon Dunes
Offering great products and service that provide excellent value—that’s the goal of the culinary program at Bandon Dunes. With that in mind, we have partnered with Bethel Heights Vineyard, located an hour from Portland. Located in a peaceful, rolling landscape of rich farmland and open vistas, Bethel Heights creates seductive wines that express the unique character of their 40-year-old family estate vineyard. The winery has grown its production to 10,000 cases and established the Willamette Valley as the home of New World Pinot Noir. Bandon Dunes’ relationship with Bethel Heights extends back several years, so when the opportunity to create an estate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay at a price that would appeal to our guests, we were thrilled to move forward.
“Bethel Heights’ Estate Pinot Noir and Estate Chardonnay is really an incredible sum of everything that goes into creating them,” says Bandon’s Director of Restaurants, Mike Miller. “These are wines that have been heralded by critics and will thrill visitors to Bandon Dunes.”
Continue reading if you want to hear why we love Bethel Heights!
Bethel Heights is one of the oldest vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills, established by two families in 1977. Brothers Ted Casteel and Terry Casteel and their partners, Pat Dudley and Marilyn Webb, abandoned academia and together planted fifty acres of own-rooted heritage selections of Pinot noir and Chardonnay between 1977 and 1979. Now forty years old, these original vines are still going strong and producing some of the finest wines of their entire career.
In 1999 the family established Justice Vineyard adjacent to Bethel Heights, bringing in many of the newly available “Dijon clones” of Pinot noir and Chardonnay. Now fully mature, the Justice Vineyard is playing an increasingly important role in their estate wines, including both the 2016 and 2017 Bethel Heights Bandon Dunes Pinot Noir. As we launch the 2017 vintage of Bethel Heights/Bandon Dunes wines, we are coincidentally celebrating a mutual twenty-year anniversary!
What separates their wines? The land.
Bethel Heights Vineyard is a mosaic of rocky south-facing benches and slopes, sitting between 480’ and 620’ above the valley floor. Its geologically complex volcanic soils were formed over many millennia from innumerable distinct lava flows.
Justice Vineyard sits adjacent to Bethel Heights on the south, at a slightly lower elevation, where the underlying primeval sea-floor is tilted up and exposed to the surface below a very thin layer of volcanic topsoil. Grapes grown on these ancient marine sediments have a very different life experience from those grown in the volcanic soils at Bethel Heights, bringing interesting complexity to our wines.
Why is the Eola Hills region perfect for growing grapes? The climate.
Early pioneers who settled in their neighborhood in the 1840’s were struck by the powerful, predictable marine winds that blow straight in from the sea – funneled in through the Van Duzer Corridor, the lowest point in Oregon’s Coast Range, due west of Bethel Heights. Harking back to their classical education, they named the hills for Æolus, god of the winds in Greek mythology; hence the name Eola Hills.
On most warm summer afternoons, the winds rise as the sun starts its descent. Cool ocean air pours into the valley. The temperature may plummet as much as 30 degrees. Because of the dominating effect of these marine winds on their climate, the Eola-Amity Hills generally experience cooler average temperatures during the growing season than other parts of the Willamette Valley, allowing their grapes to ripen on the vines long into the Fall, reaching full flavor potential without losing the bright acidity and fine-grain tannins that give great wine its structure and balance.
Defining the vision. The wines.
The first estate wines were produced at Bethel Heights in 1984. Their geologically complex hillside soils and direct impact from Æolian winds 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.
For the first twenty years at Bethel Heights, Terry made the wine, Ted managed the vineyard, and Pat and Marilyn grew the business. In 2005 Ben Casteel took over from his father as Winemaker.
Ben strives to continue the model established by his father and family in crafting wines that reflect vintage and terroir at Bethel Heights Vineyard. It is a vision born of thoughtful experimentation, patience, and restraint, and one that he believes can only reach fulfillment at the small winery level. The closer the winegrower’s hands are to their wines and vines, the clearer the voice of the place and time will be expressed in the cask and bottle. It is with this vision and passion that Ben hopes to carry Bethel Heights on into the future.
Commitments to Tomorrow
When the family arrived at Bethel Heights in 1977 they 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. Above all else, they have sought to grow their grapes and make their wine without diminishing the life of the place. Their vineyard is farmed on active hope for the future – the future of the farmland, and the future of their family. They are working to do everything they can do to build resilience in the landscape, stability in the watershed, and justice for the people who work the land.
Whether pairing something from our wine selection with your favorite meal or just enjoying a glass at the 19th hole, Bandon Dunes wines complement the entire experience. In the fabric of our own history, we echo Bethel Heights commitment to quality and look forward to working with them for years to come!