In 1977 Ted Casteel, Pat Dudley, Terry Casteel, and Marilyn Webb abandoned the academic life and together with Pat’s sister Barbara Dudley, bought 75 promising-looking acres northwest of Salem, with 14 acres of newly planted cuttings in the ground. They moved to the vineyard in 1978 (except Barbara, who was in California working as a lawyer for farmworkers with the Agricultural Labor Relations Board) and started a new life. In 1979 they cleared and planted 36 more acres and in 1981 they harvested their first crop and started making wine in Terry’s basement.
For the first thirty years Ted was responsible for managing the vineyards and Terry made the wine. Pat and Marilyn shared responsibilities for marketing and business management. Now, the five cousins that grew up knowing the tidy rows and wild hidden places of Bethel Heights as their backyard playground, science lab and adventure park, have taken their places as co-owners, co-workers, and stewards of the winery.
In 2005 Ben Casteel (son of Terry and Marilyn) took over from his father as head winemaker at Bethel Heights. In 2007 Jon Casteel (second son of Terry and Marilyn) launched Casteel Custom Bottling, a mobile bottling company that serves wineries throughout Oregon, including Bethel Heights of course. Mimi Casteel (daughter of Ted and Pat) worked with the family at Bethel Heights until 2017 when she started farming her own vineyard at Hope Well, and launched her Hope Well Wine project. Jessie Casteel grew up among the vines at Bethel Heights, but now lives in Chicago. Jessie brings a creative outlier perspective to the direction of the family business, and serves as our ambassador in Chicago and points east.
Now there is a new generation of cousins – ten so far – who all come home to Bethel Heights for family occasions, to eat the blackberries, taste the grapes, pat the goats and walk through the ravine to Mr. Hatcher’s haunted house. This place is now for them too.