AdVINEture’s Allison and Chris Wallace paid us a visit during their recent trip to the Willamette Valley from their home base in Canada (that’s them, pictured with Winemaker Dave, in the photo above).
We’ve been following them on social media forever, so it was nice to finally meet them in person. Intrepid travelers, the pair shares the stories of their globetrotting journeys as well as details the wineries they encounter and wines they enjoy along the way. They produce a variety of multi-media content, storytelling through words, photos, and videos as they explore each region they visit.
Here, they were gracious enough to sample several of our latest wines, as well as hang out to learn more about our story and our own journey to this phase of our lives. Allison and Chris recapped their visit and reviewed the wines in “Bells Up Winery: Meeting the Moment.”
[P]assion alone isn’t always enough to turn winemaking into a viable business. At Bells Up Winery, Dave & Sara Specter have found success by focusing on making quality wine, while at the same time connecting with quality people.
Tasting at Bells Up is by appointment only. This fact alone isn’t rare as many wineries do the same, however they take the personalization of their tastings one step further.
Sara speaks to every single person before an appointment can be booked to ensure a truly tailor-made experience…
Their approach is also a particularly important way to differentiate yourself when you’re making wine in a region with 700+ wineries, the vast majority of which are producing excellent wine. The global pandemic provided proof that the connections with their customers and wine club members run deep. On multiple occasions people would call up the winery just to speak to a friendly voice and some customers took advantage of their offer to take a break from self-quarantine to come walk in their vineyard as the winery wasn’t able to provide tastings.
And who wouldn’t want to take advantage of walking in their beautiful 10-acre estate vineyard if given the chance? Even on the rainy spring day when we visited, the property is perfectly perched atop a hillside in Newberg offering up a magnificent view…
We learned quickly during the interview that Dave is as unpretentious as they get, quickly downplaying his role as a winemaker, “Once you get wonderful stuff coming out of the vineyard, my job frankly becomes ‘don’t screw it up!’.”…
Dave and Sara refer to photos or experiences with their wines sent in by customers as a “Bells Up Moment” and it’s pretty clear already that their new vocation has them meeting their own.
About the wines they sampled, Allison and Chris offered the following notes:
2021 Rhapsody Pinot Blanc: Pale yellow with green hue. Citrus notes on the nose combine hints of white peach. The palate is medium+ in body with medium+ acidity. The texture of this wine creates good balance for the juicy acid profile. Flavours of green apple, melon and lemon come together in a refreshing style. No oak and no malo, this is surprisingly textured, given the elevage. Hints of mineral come through on the finish. Very Good+
2021 Helios: This wine is made from the aromatic grape variety Seyval Blanc. This reminded us of a Sauvignon Blanc with its grapefruit flavours or perhaps a Grüner Veltliner with its body and high acid combination. Hints of lemon/lime infuse the aromatic profile. Flavours of pear and golden delicious apple gain added complexity from the mineral streak on the finish. Crisp and refreshing. Very Good+
2021 Prelude Rosé of Pinot Noir: We are starting to see a few more Rosés made with Pinot Noir and based on this example, it is a trend we would like to see continue. Medium/dark red in colour, it was made in the maceration method with 40 hours of skin contact. Classic Rosé notes give great varietal typicity: strawberry, red apple skin, hint of watermelon and a nice showing of mineral and spice. With medium body, medium acidity and lots of earthy complexity, this is a gastronomic Rosé setting itself apart from the run of the mill. A perfect pairing for oysters or ceviche. Excellent (particularly good value for this quality level)
2019 Titan Pinot Noir: Just 74 cases of this Dijon and Pommard clone blend are made. Notes of rhubarb and cherry get support from the earthy notes. Medium tannin and medium acidity contribute to a round mouthfeel and early approachability. The medium body amplifies the elegance of this wine. Very Good+
2019 Candide Pinot Noir: The “reserve” character comes through with the greater intensity of this wine. Cherry, hints of blueberry, mushroom and forest floor come together in a unison that shows sophistication and good balance. Lovely now, we guess this will show additional development if cellared over the next 5 years or longer. Excellent
2020 Jupiter Pinot Noir: Made from Pommard and Dijon 667 clones grown at their estate vineyard in the Chehalem Mountains. Raspberry and darker fruits come across with this wine as well as earthy and woodsy notes. The body is medium and there is a suave elegance to this wine that is quite charming. Lovely balance. Very Good+
2019 Firebird Syrah: The fruit is sourced from Summit View Vineyard in Milton-Freewater, Oregon—part of the Walla Walla Valley AVA that straddles the Washington border and is getting such good press for its Syrah. Plum and blackberry pick up complexity from the pepper notes that gradually morph from black to white as the wine takes in air. There are black cherry notes to be detected after a bit of swirling. Medium body and medium tannin, this wine is very approachable. Very Good+
2020 New World Cabernet Sauvignon: Fruit comes from the same Summit View Vineyard on the Oregon side of the Walla Walla Valley AVA. Black cherry dominates the flavour and the aromatic profile. The wine is intense yet elegant as well. Medium tannin and medium+ acidity suggest this wine should be as long-lived as other Washington Cabs. Hints of cigar box and old leather add complexity to the aromas. Really delicious! Excellent