Over the summer we were visited by Joe Wehinger, CEO of United Digital & Associates, publisher of Daily Ovation magazine, and writer about all things food, wine, spirits, travel, technology and philanthropy. The result? Joe wrote about us in a recent article, “Willamette Valley’s Bells Up Winery is Portland’s answer to Music in the Bottle with Bright, Bold Pinot Noir.” He writes:
Dave Specter and his wife Sara Pearson Specter of Bells Up Winery in Willamette Valley Oregon are living their wine-inspired dream.
Maybe You Can Relate?
How many times have you visited wine country and day-dreamed about leaving behind your corporate job to pursue your passion in wine?
Chances are you are nodding in agreement because most of us have. See, at the time Dave was a very successful tax attorney working at “one of the Big 4 accounting firms” in Cincinnati but also hearing a “if you build it they will come” whisper from the vineyards on every wine vacation they took.
Dave and Sara aren’t fans of the “usual” anything. So their wine vacations included less common vino visits: Texas Hill Country, the Finger Lakes Region and — in August 2008 — the Willamette Valley.
The wine whisper became louder and louder and then…
After returning from one of their wine vacations, Sara found out her mentor was diagnosed with stage-4 pancreatic cancer. Very sadly, Sara’s mentor passed away less than a year later leaving behind her husband and their small children. Experiences like this make you rethink your life, your journey and the impact you want to make on the world.
Bells Up Winery Gets Into Tune
Their life story echoes throughout every inch of the Bells Up location. Passion. Living your life to the fullest. Very deliberately creating something true to your own song.
For Dave and Sara it was time to listen to that whisper and go ‘Bells Up’.
And what exactly does “Bells Up” mean? It’s a music term for: “…a dramatic moment in a classical music score instructing French horn players to raise the bells of their instruments and project sound with maximum intensity.”
Winemaker and owner Dave Specter—a French horn player for 20+ years—calls the creation of their winery his “Bells Up” moment. For Dave and Sara, it was time to be heard.
Bells Up Winery Estate Vineyard
The 9-acre Bells Up estate vineyard is located in the Chehalem Mountains AVA just north of Newberg with a vineyard boasting Portland’s famous Jory soil perfect for Pinot Noir.
So as we sip tasting through the current Bells Up Wine flight, it’s not just good wine, it’s a story of passion and living their dream.
Bells Up: Being Unique is Contagious
Bells Up is more measured. In fact, their whole “measured” brand attracts a certain audience, and the owners are very okay with that.
See, Dave and Sara aren’t aiming to be a “doors wide open” tourist attraction tasting room the way some others tend to be. Nope. Dave and Sara want a more personal experience. Not a toll booth, but rather a series of conversations.
If you’re looking for a fast experience, that’s great and there are plenty of wine country options for you. If you’re looking to meet the winemakers, shake their hand, have a more personal experience, that’s what Bells Up offers.
The Winemaker’s Encore
During our conversation, Winemaker Dave felt confident that he knows how big (or in this case small) they want to grow their business and when they’ll contain themselves. And it might be true.
But this winemaking family is too smart and their wines are too good to curb their distribution. As I’m sure their wine membership will agree, I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few years, they find more grapes and get an itch to grow their case size. For now, sign up early and stay active in their wine club to enjoy access to their modest membership.