Archive for October, 2010

2010 was the most compressed harvest we’ve had in the Willamette Valley since sometime back in the dim and distant 70’s.  We waited until the last possible minute to pick, waiting for our gorgeous Indian Summer to bring on the final flavor development that makes a great vintage.   When that moment came, there were storm clouds on the horizon.

We could never have pulled off this vintage without a vineyard crew that went way above and beyond the call of duty.  Our crew of twenty-five people worked ten hours a day for five straight days, barely stopping to eat.  They picked 95 tons at Bethel Heights and Justice in just 5 days = 190,000 pounds = 38,000 pounds per day = 1520 pounds per person per day = 95 buckets per person per day.

These are the heroes of the 2010 vintage!



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We had a great party yesterday with the fantastic Solar Nation team to celebrate the completion of our solar energy project.   40% of our energy at Bethel Heights is now provided by the sun!

Solar Nation CEO Paul Hodge was on hand to toast the success of our project.

An album of great photos from the party was posted this morning by Rachel Trousdale, “Solar Development Analyst” and top notch party planner.

Visitors to our tasting room can now watch the kilowatt hours mount up and learn how it works on the monitor in our tasting room.  Come see for yourself!

Thanks, Solar Nation!

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Finally got them to  stand still long enough to be introduced!  Top to bottom, wearing their new Oregon Certified Sustainable Wine t-shirts:

Kate Ayres, Mimi Casteel, Jaime Guzman, Alex Bogetti, Pat Dudley, Don Kowitz, Jose Luis Martinez, Ben Casteel, Ted Casteel…   and Marilyn

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Today our vineyard crew started as usual at daybreak, picking a few tons next door at Temperance Hill Vineyard before coming down to Bethel Heights around 10:30. By noon they had finished the Flat Block, the last of our 2010 Pinot noir!   We thought they would have to call it a day by the time they finished picking the Wente Chardonnay and the Pinot blanc around 2:00, but with serious grey clouds piling up to the west, they kept going until 4:00 and brought in all the Pinot gris as well.  Everyone is going the extra mile in this most compressed harvest that anyone can remember.

All the white grapes look beautifully ripe, with nice brown stems and golden colored fruit (small crop pay-off).  But the trouble with white grapes is you can’t just sort and destem and throw them into a fermenter to chill out.  The whites all have to be pressed first, and every press  
load takes hours, and then the press cleanup after each load is incredibly sticky and messy and time-consuming.  Here it is 11:00 at night, and our midnight shift (Mimi and Alex tonight) is still pressing Chardonnay, and eating the last of the delicious lentil-sausage soup that Marilyn made for lunch today.

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Don, New Kate, and Mimi smiling on Pinot

Another long and very satisfying day:  25 tons of gorgeous Pinot noir, including all of the Southeast Block and South Block, harvested under sunny skies.   6:45 pm:  Sun setting, Moon and Jupiter rising, and everyone is still smiling tonight as the work goes on.

Ted, Marilyn and Ben smiling on lunch

What the crush crew had for lunch today:  beef kebobs with chanterelles over risotto, and a side of Caesar salad – Marilyn is spoiling us, but no wonder everyone is still smiling!   We have TWO chanterelle hunters on our crush crew this year, our brand new Kate and our good old Alex.

Jack hanging in there

Jack is home from the kennel, cannon shell-shock averted.  Now that harvest is underway, he can head for the winery at daybreak (cannon-break) and spend the day under the table in the office until Ted turns off the cannons and it’s time for a moonrise walk!


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It was a long day yesterday!  28 tons of Pinot noir picked by early afternoon; sorting and destemming went on until long after sunset.  Back at it at daybreak today.  Ted wants to get all the Pinot picked this week, with rain on the horizon for Friday.  The fruit looks lovely and tastes great, with brix coming in around 22 average on all the lots picked yesterday.

Marilyn’s traditional first lunch of the crush:  Mulligatawny Soup!

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From Marilyn:  One last seasonal recipe before I start cooking daily for the crew.  Perfect accompaniment to our 2008 Estate Grown Pinot Noir!

Hint:  In the woods, they are free!  In the store they are very expensive.  Yes, it’s Oregon’s state mushroom, the golden chanterelle.  Here is an adaptation from a recipe served by the Stephanie Inn, a beautiful resort and restaurant in Cannon Beach.


Chanterelle Mushroom Appetizer

Serve with  Bethel Heights Estate Grown Pinot Noir

2 cups fresh chanterelles, stems mostly removed, brushed clean and cut into bite size pieces

Preheat oven to 350.

Marinade for roasting:

1/4th cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 T soy sauce

1 clove garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press

1/2 T chives, minced

3/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup water

1/2 T Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste – after roasting

2 T butter – after roasting

Place mushrooms in marinade and toss to cover.  Roast in baking dish for 20 minutes or more until they are soft and cooked through.

Drain off most of liquid (reserve for other use – great on pasta or in soups).

Add 2 T butter to drained, warm mushrooms.

Serve warm on crostini.

Serves 4


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