Try  to imagine this. A beautiful young woman out in the  dark forest alone, searching for the bearded corpses of common black beetles in which have been growing the fungi she seeks. Like a witch in an ancient fairy tale, she needs this fungus for her brew. Her brew is the compost that will nourish the vines in her vineyards.

Mimi is the daughter of Ted Casteel and Pat Dudley, co-founders of Bethel Heights Vineyard. She has worked in various National Forests across the west and has a passion for studying botany, forestry, and ecological processes. She is the Wine-grower and General Manager of Bethel Heights Vineyard.Her cousin (and childhood best friend) Ben is the Wine-maker.

With her passion for ecology and biology, Mimi Dudley Casteel has become the queen of experimental vineyard design, focusing on innovations in sustainable farming, compost and vermiculture, and various quality experiments.

In person she is a serious, bright, thoughtful lover of wine, but beyond that she is a scientist with a passion for mycology and sustainable vineyard practices. As such, she is on the board for LIVE Science based standards for sustainable winegrowers. It’s a very cool organization and you can learn more about it here:

We had a lot of fun tasting her Willamette Valley wines last week at Color de Vino. We tasted:

2014 Bethel Heights Estate Grown Pinot Blanc:  The colour is a pretty light clear green. I smell wood-sage and sea salt with hints of old oak and peaches. It has a luscious attack of fresh nectarine, lime, papaya and sunshine. Displays lovely acidity and structure. Beautifully balanced and clean. A perfect match for shellfish. ❤ +774009 $$

2012 Bethel Heights Estate Grown Chardonnay:  Pretty sunny golden hue. Buttery lemon nose. A big fresh attack with notes of lemon, lime and a clean long lasting finish. +769324 $$

2012 Bethel Heights Estate Grown Pinot Noir: Perfect mid-ruby hue. Spicy mellow peppered fruit on the nose with red Twizzlers and notes of fresh pomegranate.Tart, bright attack that opens to tender-firm tannins and a fresh, bright finish. Absolutely wonderful. ❤ ❤ +769325  $$

2012 Bethel Heights Aeolian Pinot Noir: Again with the perfect mid-ruby hue. I smell fresh wet clay and a raspberry, cherry, strawberry stew. Deeply stewed cherries and black black dirt. GAh! Darkly mysterious, earthy, cherry and red plum attack. I want to wear this! I wish I smelled like this wine. ❤ ❤ +769322 $$$ (worth every penny!)

Having met Mimi and enjoyed her great wine, passion for fungus and hilarious sense of humour I hope that one day we can do an episode for The Dirt On Wine entitled Mimi and the Bearded Black Beetles!

In the meantime, treat yourself. Find these wines (maybe at good old Color de Vino) and discover for yourself what a mania for mycology can do.










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