Vesper Bell
VINEYARD | Bethel Heights
block | Flat Block
WINEMAKER | Ben Casteel
BOTTLING | february 5, 2018
ALCOHOL | 14.2%
PRODUCTION |  5 cases


The Wine

The Vesper Bell is the bell rung in the late afternoon or early evening to summon people to vespers, or evening prayer. It signals a time to turn one’s attention away from the work of the day to the work of the heart and spirit, to a quiet time, a time to return home. In both my work life and in deep corners of my memory, the Flat Block has always been that constant signal, a beacon that represents home. The actual block is very near my parents’ house and it was a place for my brother and cousins and me to play as children and eventually to work as young adults. The Flat Block has always existed, as an abstraction, as a place in our vineyard both within and outside of the context of vintage. It holds in one hand a mirror up to the sky and reflects what each season brings, but it also reflects back a consistent reflection of itself, with the shape of the vintage never obscuring its character. As our vineyard gets older and as the other blocks change in character, the Flat Block is the immutable center of the wheel, holding steady as everything spins around it. In many ways the task of creating a small blend for an auction should be simple. You find something delicious, and you bottle it and let the wine speak for itself. I very often lose sight of this and allow myself to fall down the rabbit hole, chasing an idea of what I feel the wine “should be,” and only ever end up catching a shadow. The Flat Block to me is the Vesper Bell—it is the sound that calls me back and reminds me that sometimes the task of finding something pure, something that can translate what we love about our place into wine, is as simple as finding the steady voice among the vines. Our 2016 Auction lot is a microblend of small amounts of our favorite barrels from the Flat Block, a wine we believe is the best we produced from the vintage. I’m always reluctant to speak with the countenance of authority regarding terroir, and why certain wines taste the way they do, principally because it feels like hubris to assume we can know all of the interactions at play. I will say that there is something very comforting to me about the Flat Block as I go about my workday, either inside or out. It’s the wine I always find when someone asks me, “What is this place all about?” because it feels impossible to begin anywhere else.

The WInery

Bethel Heights Vineyard was established in 1977 in the Eola-Amity Hills by Ted Casteel, Terry Casteel, Pat Dudley and Marilyn Webb. In 2006, Ben Casteel took over from his father as winemaker. Over the last forty years Bethel Heights has grown and evolved, but the original fifty acres of own-rooted Pinot noir and Chardonnay vines planted in the 1970s continue to provide the backbone of Bethel Heights estate-grown wines. Gnarly old vines, geologically complex hillside soils and direct impact from Æolian winds—all conspire to create highly energized wines with depth of character and distinctive personalities.

Learn more about Bethel Heights Vineyard
Follow: @bethelheightsvineyard
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