When Joe Wehinger, CEO of United Digital & Associates, publisher of Daily Ovation magazine, visited us over the summer, he tasted through our current (at that time) wine line up. In addition to writing incredibly kind things 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,” Joe also reviewed five of our wines, as well as our hosted tasting experience exclusively for one group at a time.
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
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.
Our Tasting Flight
As you’re noticing, music is a major theme for Bells Up and that doesn’t stop. Each bottle is named after a particular song.
Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc
Named for George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue
The 2020 Rhapsody Pinot Blanc is a new offering from Bells Up. The 100% Pinot Blanc provides a lively, “jazzy” (leaning into the Gershwin wordplay) debut with just enough body added to it’s sparkle. Delicious and crisp.
Chehalem Mtns. AVA Rose of Pinot Noir
Named for one of Franz Liszt’s 12 Symphonic Poems. The nose carries a delightful red fruit with an unexpected depth that is seriously fun as it lingers.
Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Named for Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 in D Major
But it might as well refer to the power in each sip.
The open shows nice bright cherry and earthy undertones on the nose. The palate highlights bitter red fruit, citrus rind, damp stone. It’s a young wine with a complicated makeup, expect an amazing taste from this bottle in a few years. Hello 2025!
Chehalem Mtns. AVA Reserve Pinot Noir
Named for Leonard Bernstein’s Operetta Candide
On the nose, there’s an exquisite introduction of ripe red fruit and earthy undertones. Elegant and fresh on the palate, with layers of cherry and damp earth.
Walla Walla Valley AVA Syrah
Named for Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite
A different feel from the rest of the roster. Dark fruit with smoky notes. A lean Syrah with acidity. Different, yet a great pairing for gamey meat.
Of these five wines, the 2019 Firebird is the only one still in stock, currently available in 750mL and 1.5mL (magnum) bottles.