A Beautiful Tasting at Bellangelo

Bellangelo is one of those wineries that I’m consistently hearing about in the Finger Lakes, but hadn’t made it out to the winery. We would drive by both of their locations on Seneca Lake on our way to other places, thinking “someday we need to stop.” Finally, we made it a priority and headed out to their Bellangelo North location.

About Villa Bellangelo

Villa Bellangelo was originally founded on the southwest of Seneca Lake’s shores in 2002, though its vineyards date back to the late 19th century when the Finger Lakes were first becoming a wine region. It’s first life was as a hybrid and native winery, but when Michael Litterio purchased it in 2002, he switched over to vinifera.

In 2011, the Missick family acquired Villa Bellangelo, and, with Chris Missick as winemaker, they continued the legacy set before them… with an experimental twist.  In addition to making great classic wine, they are having a little fun with varietals and styles, mixing it up to produce some unique options.

The North Bellangelo location, where we tasted, was once a country club, and echoes of that past life are present throughout the building in a fun and kitsch kind of way. While the main winery and tasting room has an incredible view and is definitely worth visiting, this is a nice option if you’re dashing in from Rochester or Geneva and only doing the North end of the lake.

Tasting at Bellangelo

First, I want to start this off with a big thanks to winemaker Chris for inviting me out and setting us up with a an amazing tasting. Second, thanks to Mike, who walked us through an incredible tasting experience. Third, in the awesomeness of everything, I forgot to write down pricing of the tasting… sorry folks! I noticed group tastings were $9 for 5 samples, but I’m not sure if that’s the normal price.

But let’s ignore that I couldn’t find that information and talk about the delicious delicious wine.

We started off with the 2016 Dry Riesling, because you have to try a winery’s Riesling. It was a classic stonefruit and citrus peel nose, with some floral and slate notes. On the palate, it was bright and tart with a nice tangerine clean finish. We compared this against the 2016 Fut de Chene Riesling, which is barrel aged. The citrus and tangerine was still present in the latter, but it’s acidity was complemented by a lovely texture and candied lime and oak chip finish. I know that sounds odd, but it was insanely good.

Next up was the Bella Fresca, a blend of Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Seyval Blanc, Cayuga and Valvin Muscat. This unique blend was cirtusy and stonefruity like Gewurztraminer, with a Trix cereal pop, and Jolly Rancher apple finish. It’s a perfect poolside wine.

Next, we moved on to the 2018 Cabernet Franc Rose, which started with an aromatic strawberry, red plum, cherry and herbal nose, with strawberries and cream on the palate and a dehydrated strawberry finish. It was like experiencing all the strawberry notes in one go.

Based on my love of the 2016 Fut de Chene Riesling, I had to try the Sparkling variation. It started with a similar tangerine nose that edged more towards lime peel, but then moved into creamy meringue and biscuit notes. When sipped it was bright and citrusy with a fascinating tapioca finish.

Next up was a 2017 Cabernet Franc Lemberger Blend. It was rich and intense with heavy spice, leather, dark berries, that almost was port-like but brighter. On the palate it was dried cherries and dark plum with an acidic tartness that balanced the rich flavors.

We finished with the 2018 Piquette, a low-alcohol wine that was originally created as a style for vineyard workers to sip at lunch. Made from Cabernet Franc and Chambourcin, the wine is like bright unripe raspberry juice with some funky notes that remind me of a farmhouse ale. Beer friends would love this tart sour wine.

Planning Your Visit

Hours: Both locations are open every day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., though check these hours if you’re traveling in late Fall through Winter as they may change.

Tasting Fees: I think it’s $9 for 5, and you get a free logo glass, but you’ll need to double check. I was having too much fun to write it down.

Group Tastings: Reservations are required for groups of 8 or more, and are limited to specific sizes based on location. See their website for full details on fees and policies.

Wine Prices: Wines range from $5.50 for their canned wine to bottles of their Scooter series for $8.99 to the $30s for some sparkling and reserve wines.

We purchased some bottles of the 2017 Cabernet Franc Lemberger and the 2016 Sparkling Riesling.

Other Amenities: The North location offers live music and wine by the glass, and with their fantastic deck overlooking the lake it’s an amenity you’ll definitely want to try. The main location has a special Riesling Experience you can do for $25 that includes a VIP flight of select Rieslings and a book all about their Riesling.

Final Thoughts

This may have been my first visit, but now it definitely won’t be my last. I need to go back and grab some bottles of Cabernet Franc (for which my tasting note only says “Typical but dense… YES” and some more of the Sparkling Riesling, because it’s wild and wonderful. Bellangelo is a place you need to try when exploring the Finger Lakes.

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