Hope Well is a project started by Mimi Casteel located on a beautiful ridge in Salem, OR in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. Mimi is no stranger to the Willamette Valley wine industry, as the younger daughter of the co-founders of Bethel Heights, Ted Casteel and Pat Dudley. Mimi literally grew up in the Willamette Valley vineyards, no doubt helping to shape her incredible passion and love for the earth!
After graduating with an MS in Forest Ecology from Oregon State, Mimi worked for the National Forest Service as a botanist and developed a strong commitment to environmentalism. After several years of working in the backcountry of Oregon, the pull to return to Bethel Heights and the vines won out. Once back at Bethel Heights, Mimi worked tirelessly to innovate farming techniques, compost and viticultural practices to be more sustainable and organic. Along with her passion for winegrowing, Mimi also took the reigns as General Manager of Bethel Heights.
In 2015 Mimi made the difficult choice to depart the family business to start Hope Well. This was not an easy decision, but one Mimi knew was necessary in order to create an environmental culture where her vines and family could thrive naturally. To that end, she had already purchased an 80 acre property in the Eastern part of the Eola-Amity AVA, and had planted 20 acres to vines in 2008. In Mimi ‘s eyes “Hope Well is not simply the wish of an optimistic philosophy. Hope Well is an imperative. It is the insistence that hope without action is hope without hope.” Hope Well is a bucolic place full of biodiversity, farm life, family and life! The vineyard thrives being farmed using all organic and biodynamic methods. There are also fruit orchards, an extensive vegetable garden, as well as sheep and chickens used to not only feed her family, but also for the workers who help out on the vineyards and property. And, now that the winery is in production, there is talk of expanding the fruit and vegetable production to sell to local restaurants.
The vineyards at Hope Well are planted to a largely east-facing bowl that is somewhat protected from the direct effect of the windy Van Duzer corridor. While slightly warmer during the days, the cooling effect of these winds still brings down the temperature at night creating a significant diurnal shift. The Pinot Noir at Hope Well is produced from 100% Pommard clone and fermented using all natural and ambient yeasts and 20% whole clusters. Extractions are very gentle and the wine sees no racking and very minimal use of Sulphur. Mimi uses 100% French oak for aging the wine, with about 20% being new. Overall, her goal is to emphasize that each harvest represents a different story, and therefore, each vintage should reflect not only the place, but also the time and circumstances that intersect to create each harvest. As such, the fact that vintages differ somewhat is a plus!
Mimi has already become somewhat of an underground cult hero to modern natural viticulture in Oregon. Besides the grapes that she cultivates for her own project, she also sells grapes to some other highly esteemed wineries including Antica Terra, Failla-Jordan, and Lingua Franca (Larry Stone/Dominique Lafon).
To sum it up, Hope Well wine is the alchemy between the natural world, Mimi’s deep love for the ground and the unsung heroes whose strong hands, hearts, and minds have helped her make it.