Honest to goodness, the hardest working wine, food, travel, and lifestyle blogger and writer Marlynn Schotland — the force of nature behind Urban Bliss Life — is a treasure. We’ve been honored to know her for many years now, and she’s the most cheerful, enthusiastic, and supportive person.
It’s always a pleasure to host her and her husband Alain for a wine tasting. She’s also included us in posts over the years, including THE famous Pinot Noir Brownies recipe that she created using our 2015 Titan Pinot Noir.
Marlynn Says “A Stop at Bells Up Winery Is A Must.”
It was ALSO an honor to be featured on her website, UrbanBlissLife. After participating in our International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) virtual tasting, Marlynn filed an incredibly kind feature about us on her site. She writes:
“When wine tasting in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, a stop at Bells Up Winery is a must. This micro-boutique winery features one-on-one attention, an interesting array of wines (Oregon Pinot Noir and much more!), and one of the most down-to-earth, friendliest winemakers you’ll ever meet.
I remember the first time I visited Bells Up Winery. I zipped around the backroads of Oregon wine country into Newberg, Oregon. Slowly ambled up the unpaved final path to the winery, soaking up the vineyard views along the way.
As I entered the winery, winemaker Dave Specter and his wife Sara, the self-appointed “Money Honey” and co-owner, greeted me with huge smiles and an incredible line-up of their latest wines to taste.
I remember that first visit mainly because every single visit back – and there have been several! – has held the same warmth and kind hospitality as the first. While the wine portfolio may change slightly, the one constant you can always count on at Bells Up Winery are the friendly, engaging Specters and their enthusiasm and commitment to producing small production high quality, interesting wines.”
Praise for Bells Up’s Unique Tasting Experience
As special and amazing as Marlynn is, we always like to remind her when she’s here that she’s not getting special treatment just because she’s media. (NOTE: We love you Marlynn — okay, maybe you get a LITTLE bit of special treatment.) That’s because we treat EVERYONE like a VIP with our winemaker-hosted tastings exclusively for one group at a time. That’s not the norm in the Willamette Valley, which she also highlighted in her post, noting:
“If you’re looking for a see-and-be-seen kind of larger winery experience, or you’re looking for the third stop on a wild and crazy bachelorette party wine tour, there are plenty of other wineries you can visit.
Here at Bells Up, they only accept one group wine tasting at a time. That means you don’t have to worry about being forgotten or elbowing for the tasting room staff’s attention to get your next pour. You have the full one-on-one attention of winemaker Dave Specter himself.
This is an amazing and unique winemaker tasting experience that you don’t see often in Oregon wineries anymore. These private tasting experiences are perfect if you want to learn more about Oregon wines and how Bells Up is doing things a little differently.”
Marlynn Reviews Our Red Wines
With a WSET 2 with Distinction certification, Marlynn takes wine seriously. As a cookbook author, she’s big on pairings as well (she also *may* be in a co-dependent relationship with her Air Fryer — not that there’s anything wrong with that… and Alain doesn’t seem to mind).
Anyway, when she reviews wines she often shares a recipe or two from her encyclopedic collection! Here’s what she thought of several of our recent red wine releases:
- Titan Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley) – The flagship wine that Bells Up produces each year, the Titan hits all the right notes of a classic Oregon Pinot Noir. Light-bodied and fruit-forward, with notes of strawberry, raspberry and hints of earthy mushroom and forest floor. Marlynn’s Pairing: Air Fryer Salmon Bites or Creamy Pasta with Crispy Mushrooms
- Jupiter Pinot Noir (Estate Vineyard) – In 2019, Bells Up was able to bottle their first 100% estate Pinot Noir. This is a beauty that cannot be rushed. At first opening, I enjoyed bright red fruit aromas, an almost strawberry candy flavor. It softened as it opened up to reveal increasing layers of elegance, more secondary notes of stewed berries. The structure and finish on this one are impressive, and while it’s a delightful drink now, I’m excited to see how it ages in about 5-7 years. Marlynn’s Pairings: Air Fryer Teriyaki Salmon or Air Fryer Whole Chicken
- Candide Reserve Pinot Noir (Zenith Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills AVA) – A bigger, richer red than typical Oregon Pinot Noir palates, this wine is made with Wadenswil grapes sourced from Zenith Vineyard in Salem, Oregon, south of Newberg. This Pinot Noir has a slightly richer mouthfeel, with darker fruit aromas and flavors. Marlynn’s Pairing: Filipino Beef Mechado
- Firebird Syrah (Summit View Vineyard Walla Walla Valley AVA) – A Syrah for Pinot lovers! With grapes sourced from Summit View Vineyard in the Milton-Freewater, Oregon part of the Walla Walla Valley AVA, Firebird has the flavors most loved in a Walla Walla Syrah – dark fruits like black cherry, blueberry, blackberry, along with black pepper and earthy notes – but it has lower tannins than your average Syrah. Marlynn’s Pairing: Dutch Oven Pot Roast with Vegetables
- New World Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Summit View Vineyard Walla Walla Valley AVA) – With grapes also sourced from the PNW land of big reds – Walla Walla Valley – this wine is currently my favorite of the Bells Up lineup. Think black cherry, plum, blackberry bramble. This is my stormy night in by the fire kind of wine. Currently, the New World Cabernet Sauvignon is only available to club members. Marlynn’s Pairing: a classic Beef Bourguignon.
Take Marlynn’s Advice
We’re lucky to count Marlynn among our biggest supporters. It’s incredibly humbling to read her sign-off on her article: