Villa Bellangelo Winery is located on Poplar Point Road, just outside of Dundee, New York. It sits, in fact, on the West side of beautiful Seneca Lake which is one of the Finger Lakes of New York. You turn off the highway and take a meandering route through what looks like just another field until you spot the vines and the main building up ahead. We were in the region for the Wine Bloggers Conference of 2015 and rather than riding the tour bus, Tom Joe and I opted for his vehicle which got us ahead of the pack by about 20 minutes.
The winery had just been remodeled and we had the place almost completely to ourselves. Fortunately, we met Chris and Matt Missick, the owners and wine makers, right after we walked in and they gave us the grand tour. We got an earful of background on the winery starting with the fact that the Missick’s had moved from California after they acquired the property in 2011. Neither of them really knew much about making wine other than what they had learned from making wine in their garage, but the vines seemed to be calling to them so they took the plunge. Turned out that Chris had been an attorney and learned about making wine the same way he would prepare for a case: read, study and then read some more.
The winery has been doing business for over 30 years, but the vineyard has been in operation since 1866. These ancient vines are still producing grapes today and happen to be Matt’s pet project. Pretty amazing. He tells the story that he wasn’t really sure when the grapes were ready to be harvested until one day he spotted deer (wicked beasties) in among the vines having a snack. He figured that if the deer wanted to eat them then they must be ripe for pickin’.
While the facility is relatively small, it produces some excellent wines. They use locally produced stainless steel tanks for all of their fermenting and have opted for French oak for the aging process.
(A side note here. I spotted four barrels sitting on the loading dock during our tour and asked Chris about them as they were stuck off to the side and appeared to be leaking. He told me that they were barrels of wine left by the previous owner and that he wasn’t really impressed with the contents. Rather than dump it, he added some sugar and is now trying to produce a Sherry. Don’t know when that is going to be ready, but it has been sitting there for four years now.)
The rest of the Bloggers showed up and we joined them in the tasting room where there was a marvelous setup of wines from a number of local producers, cheeses, artisan breads with oils and vinegars, and olives by the jar full. A large room that was well appointed and dedicated to tasting, leaving ‘the stuff’ for purchase in another part of the building.
We were able to sample all the wines offered and I have to say the Rieslings were the winners for me and Elizabeth. Crisp, not overly sweet and just a delight with a nice dry cheese and bread. The 2012 “1866 Reserve Gewurztraminer” was a particular hit with My Own True Love and we purchased two of those bad boys.
All good things must come to an end and so did our visit to Villa Bellangelo. This winery is high on my list of places to return to if I get the opportunity. And I heartily recommend that if you get the chance to stop in for a visit. Off to continue our trailing in the Finger Lakes. Oh….and we’ll be going to the WBC 2016 in Lodi, California and I’ll be looking for you over the rim.
And now, my personal rant: