I?ve had the distinct pleasure of?following Bells Up Winery since they first moved to Oregon’s?Willamette Valley, before their first commercial vintage, before they even planted their vines creating roots that stretch deep into the fertile Chehalem Mountain soil.
I?ve been following Bells Up since before they had their first labels, while their first wines lay in barrel at ADEA, developing personality and characteristics unique to winemaker Dave Specter?s style.
I?ve had the pleasure of watching owners Dave and Sara Specter begin to create their legacy, one that’s built on struggle, sacrifice, and passion. I talked to them very early on about how they left their lives behind in Cincinnati, to follow their dream of farming Oregon’s?pastoral countryside and have seen them create an estate with far reaching views, growing Pinot noir and experimenting with wine grapes rarely found in Oregon like Seyval Blanc, while purchasing fruit from Walla Walla to craft?a decadent Syrah.
Dave and Sara joke that their micro-boutique winery in Newberg is the ?Un-Domaine?, but the reality is, they are making unpretentious wines in the classic Oregon style. ?Oregon the way it used to be?, they say.
Dave has a history of experimentation, applying his classical musical background to his winemaking (understood in the Bells Up label, which is the term for when a French horn is turned with the bell pointing upward, projecting the sound with maximum intensity). The winery has become Dave?s Bells Up moment. Dave believes you make wine the way you create a symphony. In his words, ?Writing music for one instrument isn?t as interesting as writing music for a whole orchestra.?
Think of each bottle as an orchestra, where each flavor component plays along side the others. The fruit is the percussion, providing the backbone, the heartbeat of the wine. The floral notes are the woodwinds, offering resonance and vibration, like a soft hum of violets. The tannins are the strings section, humming along with consistency and providing an interesting rhythm to the wine. The spice notes are like the brass, playing long and strong, sending loud sounds in all directions, differentiating the harmony with the range of notes. Like a wine, every instrument, every flavor, plays its part coming together to create a score that can as easily uplift your weary spirit as it can move you to tears. Yeah, Dave makes wine like that.
The winery, rarely open to the public, is currently open by appointment only and at the big holiday weekends. This year, Bells Up Winery is celebrating the first anniversary of their renovated pole barn turned tasting room. They?ll be open two consecutive weekends from noon-4pm each day. Visit them?and taste the weekend before the Memorial Day, May 21-22, as well as for the big holiday weekend of May 28, 29, and 30.
On Saturday, May 21st only, Portland?s wood fire and wine aficionados Ember and Vine will be working pitmaster magic to create legendary food pairings to enjoy alongside the Bells Up wines. I do not use these words legendary or magic lightly. Taste and you will understand.
Nestled at the foot of the Chehalem Mountains, you?ll find Bells Up located at 27785 NE Bell Road at the intersection of Zimri Drive. Tastings are $15/person, which will be deducted from orders of $75 and up. Other nearby Bell Road boutique wineries to explore include Rain Dance Vineyards, Priv? Vineyard and Hazelfern Cellars.
Stay tuned?for a Bells Up encore with a complete review of the Bells Up wines.