I know, I know. I already wrote about Willamette, but I recently had the chance to head back and thought I would explore one of the other unique AVAs that make this valley so special to the wine world. This trip I chose to venture to the Chehalem Mountains AVA which is just down the road from Dundee Hills, but a world apart in regards to wines and winemaking. My first stop was at Bells Up Winery in Newberg, OR.
I have been fortunate enough to have a growing followership on social media and Bells Up is one that has continually supported me and my efforts. So once my trip was confirmed I made sure to stop in and visit with the team and sample some of their wines.
Owners/Winemakers/Entrepreneurs/Adventurers David Specter and his wife, Sara Pearson Specter founded Bells Up Winery in 2013 after having fled the cold climate of Ohio (and the 9-5 life) for something more fulfilling. The Specter’s stumbled, literally, upon an amazing plot of land directly adjacent the Medici property which is home to some of Willamette’s most prized plots. The land they purchased was overgrown with trees and blackberry bushes, but the Specters somehow knew what potential lied under that mess. The property now houses a rustic tasting room/barrel house and is planted with slowly maturing vines. Soon there will be estate grapes coming from this prized land as well as a beautiful deck to enjoy the views looking south across the vineyard.
The wines themselves are fashioned in a traditional style –the Pinots in a subtle Burgundian style, while the Syrah reminds me of a lush Rhone. The tasting began with a great Pinot Blanc called Rhapsody that served as a nice palate cleanser. Clean, crisp and perfect for those summer time gatherings. Next we moved into the Pinot Noir. We tasted two vintages of the flagship Titan Pinot Noir, the 2013 and 2014. I preferred the 2013 as it kept close to the Burgundian style, but also showed off a vintage that was slightly warmer allowing for a more full-bodied mouth. Following the Titans, we tasted the 2014 Villanelle. This wine is made using single vineyard fruit from the Tonelier vineyard in the Yamhill Carlton AVA. This was my favorite Pinot as it offered a fantastic expression of the valley while showcasing the skill of the winemaker.
The last wine we tasted was the 2014 Firebird. This is a Syrah sourced from the Columbia Valley. This is not a varietal you see a lot in these Pinot hills, but man was it good. Amazing fruit with excellent structure. I am a big fan of WA Syrah and although these grapes were technically sourced in OR, you can tell they were in soil close to that of WA (Couple miles in fact).
The team at Bells Up Winery are having a blast. Working in a beautiful setting and crafting amazing wines all while following their dream. I really enjoyed visiting this budding outfit and I cannot wait to come back and camp out on the deck with a couple glasses of their juice.
Stay tuned to the blog site for parts 2 and 3 from my recent adventure to the Chehalem Mountains AVA.