STARKEY — Villa Bellangelo has a new name, Missick Cellars, named for the family that purchased the winery 10 years ago.
Chris Missick, co-owner and winemaker of the longtime Seneca Lake winery, said the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic gave him time to consider the history of the winery and its legacy.
“In the wine industry, we build generational businesses,” he said. “We still have some vines left that were planted in 1866. Our industry includes stewards of the land and producers of unique local products. We want this business to be here for our grandchildren, and it really got me thinking about where we were going, particularly with regard to the name and our identity.”
In a letter to his wine club, Missick said the winery “came to realize that what we had built was no longer what we had bought a decade ago. The vision for our business has changed so much. Over this last decade, we earned a spot in Wine & Spirits Magazine’s Top 100 Wines of the World, established a remarkable sparkling wine program, elevated customer service and expanded wine education, introduced the first Chenin Blanc to be made in the Finger Lakes in 40 years and so much more.”
Missick said the winery’s wholesale business took a hit during the pandemic, but that business at the winery’s tasting rooms in Geneva and Starkey was strong.
“Ultimately, it made us realize that any existential questions of ownership, of place, of legacy, were behind us,” he said. “The wines, the experience, the reputation — these were ours.”
According to Missick, the winery adopted the family name because “at the end of the day, it was less about creating a catchy social media brand than it was about representing the truest expressions of ourselves, of our land, and our life’s work. We are all thirsty for those things that we know are real and are authentic. It has been one of the two guiding principles of my winemaking, and this change fulfills that promise on another level. The brand is our work, it’s what we grow and make.”
Along with what Missick describes as “some dramatic changes” to the winery’s tasting room in Yates County, Missick Cellars is unveiling new labels later this year centered on its new logo, which Missick said reflects a family heritage in stained glass making.