Villa Bellangelo Winery: A Riesling Paradise

Welcome to Villa Bellangelo! Located on the west side of Seneca Lake in Dundee, NY, Bellangelo winery sits atop a gorgeous hill with some vines planted. What attracts guests to Bellangelo winery is not only its great tasting wines available for purchase, but its amazing lake view from the tasting room and deck area. The grape crusher/destemmer and other production equipment are also displayed outside, which allows guests to experience first hand the beginning of the wine-making process during harvest. Bellangelo winery is open every day from 11am-5pm, as well as its tasting room which is located in Geneva.

Villa Bellangelo just before fall harvest 2019

The winemaker, Christopher Missick, moved from California to the Finger Lakes in order to pursue a career in wine making. He understood the value of the soil in the Finger Lakes region, and figured it was prime territory for wine production, especially Riesling. Bellangelo sits upon land rich in fossils, which gives helps give the area its unique growing characteristics and history. Pictured below are some fossils that were excavated from the property during its foundation, which are showcased right inside the winery!

Missick was formerly a lawyer, but he shifted gears towards making wine after living in France and finding his true passion, wine. His wife whom he met in France and his family who decided to take on the task of opening up a winery, did so in 2011. They purchased the lot that Villa Bellangelo is currently on, and opened it up in 2014 while creating vintages of their first wines in the mean time. Chris took over the wine making portion of the operation in 2015 and has been the winemaker ever since. Today, Villa Bellangelo has grown drastically since its initiation and now pours over 30 wines in the winery and Geneva tasting room. Almost half of their wines are Rieslings at any time! Most of the menu includes various types of Rieslings, but Chris has created anything from a Lemberger Cabernet Franc blend, to a Chenin Blanc which is the one of its kind to be produced in the Finger Lakes)!

Chris uses a variety of techniques to make his wines, but typically ferments them inside steel tanks and ages them in steel tanks or oak barrels depending on the varietal being created. Not only are the wine grapes harvested throughout the local vineyards using local supplies and labor, but the steel tanks were also produced locally in Geneva! Creating a wine making process that supports the local economy is important to the Missick family, as their business relies heavily on it. Typically, there are only three people involved in the wine making process. Chris has employed a vineyard manager, cellar master, and of course himself as the winemaker. Wine making is not an easy task, and Chris desires that each of his guests appreciate the knowledge, craft, and most importantly time that goes into each glass produced.

Missick uses up to three different processes when it comes to preparing the fruit for fermentation, one of them being a cold-soak (maceration) which is shown to the right. This process allows the water to flow through the grape flesh, skin, pulp, and seeds while mixing with oxygen. This allows the bright fruit aromas and colors to be extracted from the grapes, creating for a more intense, fruit forward wine. Cold-soaked fruit gives off a berry smoothie aroma, and provides a perfectly balanced taste profile of bitter and sweet once pressed into juice before fermentation!

Pictured below on the left is a gas generator and on the right is a corking, sealing and labeling machine. The gas generator acts as a buffer for the wines as they are being bottled from the tanks and barrels. Carbon Dioxide is used to remove oxygen, but nitrogen is often used due to its clear and odorless properties. The goal is to flush all of the oxygen out of the wine that may have made its way in during the aging process, or if the wine has to shift from one container to another. Shelf life and the quality of the wine will be greatly improved using gas generators, and machines like these make it much easier and cost efficient for the wine making team! The corking, sealing, and labeling machine is also a time saver. This machine inserts individual corks into the bottles, seals each one, and labels each one in assembly line fashion. Both machines make a huge difference in efficiency for wine making!

Inside the wine library in the cellar at Bellangelo, one will find a bottle of wine for each vintage and varietal created there. The exclusive wine club membership at Bellangelo provides small group tastings inside the cellar in the wine library which is truly a unique experience overlooking Seneca Lake. Not only does the wine club membership include receiving three great wines on a quarterly basis, but also preferred access to small lot wines, free events, free tastings, free tours, and much more.

Christopher Missick

Bellangelo Winery is a definite stop on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail for us at The Wine Spill. Chris and the rest of the staff make everyone feel at home, and the delicious wines are an added bonus. A perfect time to visit is during the fall when the crew is harvesting the grapes and the leaves are changing colors surrounding the lake. Breathtaking!