Memphis, Tennessee-based wine writer and reviewer Frederic Koeppel, who curates the Bigger Than Your Head website (“Eating & Drinking: The Good, The Bad, and The Rest of It”), has been writing about wine both in print media and online for more than 35 years. He recently reviewed wines submitted by Oregon wineries that he says are “new to me,” including us. He writes:
It’s always gratifying to learn, by whatever means, about wineries of whose existence I had not a clue. The discoveries today are located in proximity to the town of Newberg in the Chehalem Mountains American Viticultural Area (AVA) that’s part of the larger Willamette Valley AVA, south of Portland, Oregon… [They] were founded within a decade of each other by couples from outside the wine industry, people impelled by their love of winemaking and in particular for the pinot noir grape. They produce tiny amounts of wine; the entire productions of all three wineries wouldn’t add up to a rounding error for many large producers. Read their websites, indeed, taste and smell the wines, and you get the feeling that these are people who not only love wine and winemaking but the earth, the soil, the geography where their vines are planted. I hope you enjoy discovering these wineries as much as I did.
Koeppel noted the following about Bells Up:
Dave and Sara Specter established Bells Up Winery in Newberg, Oregon, in 2013. A former corporate tax attorney from Cincinnati, Dave Specter had won a number of amateur winemaking awards when his wife purchased a former Christmas tree farm in Willamette Valley’s Chehalem Mountains AVA. This property, planted to vines beginning in 2014, became their estate. The winery’s name refers to that moment in a symphony when the horn players raise the bells of their instruments together to produce a concerted, clamorous sound. Bells Up produces about 500 cases of wine annually. The wines are available through the tasting room and may be ordered by phone or email.
Additionally, he reviewed our latest releases of Prelude Estate Rosé and Firebird Syrah, writing:
The Bells Up Winery Prelude Estate Rose of Pinot Noir 2020, Chehalem Mountains, spent four months in neutral French oak barrels, lending the wine unusual density and texture for a rose. A bright medium ruby-cerise hue; ripe and fleshy, fruity and floral; strawberries, raspberries and a hint of cranberry; dried thyme lending a savory note; lithe and supple on the palate, with clean acidity and a burgeoning element of limestone minerality; a touch of pink grapefruit in the finish. 13.5% alc. Production was 109 cases. Excellent.
Bells Up Winery Firebird Summit View Vineyard Syrah 2019, Walla Walla Valley, on the Oregon side; yes, while the majority of the Walla Walla Valley lies in the southeast of Washington state, a portion dips across the border into Oregon. The wine aged 12 months in French oak, one-to-two-year-old barrels. The color — vivid medium ruby-purple with a transparent rim; aromas of raspberries, mulberries and plums, permeated by black licorice and crushed violets, a whiff of freshly ground pepper and Mediterranean garrigue (dried thyme, rosemary and bay leaf, dusty meadows); propelled by lip-smacking acidity and juicy black fruit flavors; plenty of graphite-inflected structure but delectable. 14.4% alc. Production was 114 cases. Excellent.