Our Winemaker - Christopher Missick
Bellangelo is a classic Finger Lakes family endeavor, with Christopher Missick serving as winemaker. Chris' path towards winemaking was more than a decade in the making, and included military service, a law practice, and a bold decision to change his role within the family business and take the helm as head winemaker. Having been taken and passed both the California and New York bar exams, Chris is licensed to practice law in two of the nations leading wine producing states. He also holds the unique distinction of being perhaps this nation's only winemaker also admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States.
It's not an uncommon story - industry professional succeeds in their given field, realizes their true passion lies in the home winemaking they've been engaged in for years, and decides to pursue their passion as a profession. It seems to be especially true for lawyers and engineers.
Chris' book, A Sense of Place, details his transformation from young college student in Northern California kicking around Napa with friends, to a busy litigator in Newport Beach, CA, practicing law and engaging in winemaking and backyard viticulture on the weekends. At the time of publication of the book, he was still engaged in the day-to-day management of the winery, its brand, and its marketing efforts.
In early 2015, Chris made the decision to transform his role with the family business. Years prior, he had enrolled in the local Finger Lakes Community College program in Enology and Viticulture, and had been working towards a degree with that program.
According to Chris, "I just felt like it was time. I had been the 'philosopher' for our wines and our wine style for several vintages. I knew it was time that I become the practitioner as well, and fully implement the vision I had. My vision for our wines, particularly Riesling and Chardonnay, synthesizes texture, fruit, and authenticity of place."
Chris' tenure has been marked by a synthesis of Bellangelo's "house style," and has been accompanied with growth of the brand through New York State and other markets. The 2017 vintage will mark an impressive family investment in a new crush pad and an overhaul of winemaking equipment. Additionally, Chris' global perspective has led him to adopt new practices and techniques that include implementing dry ice regimes, high powered steam, spectrophotometry for analyses, and crossflow filtration.