Posts Tagged ‘2009 Vintage’

Bethel Heights is pleased to announce the release of our first 2009 vintage Pinot noir. We had a very warm summer in 2009 that gave us ripe, rich Pinot flavors, with a cool end of season to retain acidity.  The wines are luscious and vibrant, and drinking beautifully even at this early stage in their life.

We are also pleased to announce that both our 2009 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (immediate release) and our 2009 Estate Grown Pinot Noir (anticipated June release) have Stelvin closures instead of corks, promising that the wine in every bottle is exactly the same vibrant, flawless wine we put into the bottle, uncompromised by any degree of cork taint.

Our fearless second-generation leaders, Ben Casteel and Mimi Casteel, precipitated this decision to move from corks to screwcaps after a long, arduous year of road trips.   After opening and pouring many bottles of Pinot noir at trade tastings, seminars, wine dinners, and distributor ride-withs all over the country, each of them returned home with stories about repeated experiences of bottles that were just a bit “off.” The bottles that put them over the edge were not the ones that were obviously corked, with that nasty smell that no one can miss; they were just dumb. It was the subtle variations that bothered them the most.  No one could tell there was any problem with those bottles except those who knew the wines intimately, and knew how beautiful the wine was before it went into the bottle.

Lots of excuses are made for such bottle variability.  We are finally convinced the problem is with the corks.  No matter how much we pay to get the best corks, there is always a certain percentage that robs the wine of its integrity after it goes into the bottle, maybe as high as 10%.

We’ve been using Stelvin closures on most of our white wines since 2004.  Without fail, they retain their purity and freshness in the bottle.  Many wineries throughout the world have been using Stelvin closures on their highest quality ageworthy wines for years now, with great success. There was simply no longer any reason to say no, when Ben and Mimi dug in their heels and said “no more corks” for these wines that travel all over the country making new friends for Bethel Heights.

Our 2009 Casteel Reserve and single vineyard Pinots are still cork-finished, since these are destined primarily for the cellars of people who already know our wines.  But we’re keeping an open mind about 2010…

Meanwhile, the entire Bethel Heights family is very pleased to introduce our 2009 cork-free Pinot noir and we welcome comments from all who meet them.

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Kate selecting trees for harvest

If you come to Bethel Heights this weekend (December 4th and 5th) you’ll not only get to taste some great wines; you can also take home a fresh cut, sustainably grown Christmas tree.  This weekend, just $30 will get you a taste of all six wines we are pouring (including a special sneak peek at one of our delicious 2009 pinots!) and a beautiful, sustainably grown, 5-7 foot noble fir Christmas tree to take home and deck with yule-tide splendor.

If you’ve ever visited Bethel Heights, you’ve probably met Kate, our Tasting Room/Cellar Club manager.   But you may not know that the Feldman Tree Farm, just a short distance up the road from Bethel Heights Vineyard, is Kate’s family business.  The level of care the Feldman family takes with their trees is above and beyond the rest of the industry.  And it shows; these are beautiful trees!

This coming weekend Kate is going to bring some of her trees down to the winery, and one of them can be yours! So come on out, friends, we have a fire going, we’ve got warm, mulled cider for your post-wine-tasting sipping pleasure, and hey, you needed that tree anyway!

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Seeking more sustainable packaging, Mimi came up with kegs!  3 Doors Down in Portland, a pioneer of kegged wine-by-the-glass, is now pouring Bethel Heights 2009 Estate Grown Pinot Noir (our Black Label Pinot) from a 5-gallon keg instead of from bottles, saving everyone a whole lot of money and a whole lot of carbon footprint.

But, how do you “bottle” wine in a keg?  Not something we’ve done before at Bethel Heights.  Fortunately, Mimi’s husband, Ciderman Nick Gunn, has plenty of kegging experience, with his Anthem Cider on tap in pubs around the country these days.  No problem!

When you’re in Portland, drop into 3 Doors Down and check it out – a preview of our beautiful and bountiful 2009 vintage, and a preview of the wine packaging of the future, perhaps.

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Mimi and Ben spent the last few weeks rolling out the barrels for our first bottling of 2009 Pinot noir – about 180 barrels, selected for our 5000 case Bethel Heights Willamette Valley blend.

They kept bringing little tastes of the blend into the tasting room as it grew – very happy with this wine!

First thing Monday morning Jon Casteel will roll his mobile bottling truck up the hill and Casteel Custom Bottling will go into action.  A sight to see, if you  happen to visit next week!

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The harvest may be over, but fermentations are in full swing.  Punching down 9 tanks and 81 bins full of warm bubbly Pinot noir three times a day,  every day…

b punch

b musty arms

b pumpover

b feet

ben & ted

b home bear

b take a break

b coffee cup

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480 boxes flipped since September 28:  Dump, sort, destem, repeat…

flip 1 flip 3

flip 5

flip 9

flip 11

flip 12

flip 15


480 boxes flipped (240 tons), September 28 – October 17, 2009

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480 boxes = 240 tons, bucket by bucket…

pick 1a

pick 3

pick 4

pick 5

pick 6

pick 6-3

pick 7

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