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Williamette Valley’s Bells Up Winery is Portland’s answer to Music in the Bottle with Bright, Bold Pinot Noir

Williamette Valley’s Bells Up Winery is Portland’s answer to music in the bottle with rose, white blends and bright, bold pinot noir.

Dave Specter and his wife Sara Pearson Specter of Bells Up Winery in Williamette 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.

Bells Up Winery Winemaker Dave Specter
Bells Up Winery Winemaker Dave Specter

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. 

Bells Up Winery Sara Pearson Specter
Bells Up Winery’s Sara Pearson Specter

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.

Bells Up Winery Winemaker Dave Specter
Bells Up Winery Winemaker Dave Specter

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. 

Learn more about Bells Up Winery here

Find the Bells Up Winery wine club here

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.


2020 Rhapsody 

Williamette 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.

Bells Up Winery’s 2020 Prelude

2020 Prelude

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.

2018 Titan

Williamette 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!

2018 Candide 

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.

2019 Firebird

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.

Learn more about Bells Up Winery here

Find the Bells Up Winery wine club here

Joe Wehinger
Joe Wehinger (nicknamed Joe Winger) has written for over 20 years about the business of lifestyle and entertainment. Joe is an entertainment producer, media entrepreneur, public speaker, and C-level consultant who owns businesses in entertainment, lifestyle, tourism and publishing. He is an award-winning filmmaker, published author, member of the Directors Guild of America, International Food Travel Wine Authors Association, WSET Level 2 Wine student, WSET Level 2 Cocktail student, member of the LA Wine Writers. Email to:
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