Bello Family Vineyards was founded by proprietor Michael Bello in 2004. Michael comes from Orange County in southern California where he founded Newport Beach based Walldesign, Inc., in 1983 and ran the company for nearly 30 years before it declared bankruptcy in 2012. This was a residential home sub-contracting business that focused on dry wall installation with clients primarily in California, Nevada and Arizona.
Two of Michael’s dreams were to make world class wine and become involved in horse racing. He began to take steps towards the former of these two interests in 2000 when he purchased a piece of premium vineyard real estate in Rutherford (near St. Supery winery). Soon after, he built a picturesque French styled farmhouse and began to plan on making wine. He hired some of the most sought out individuals in the valley to help him pursue his goals. David Abreu managed their original estate vineyard and Aaron Pott was hired to make the wine (neither Pott nor Abreu are involved any longer).
Michael has been involved in horse racing for many years; in 2001 he located and purchased a small thoroughbred racehorse in the United Kingdom called Megahertz. He brought her back to the USA; this filly became a winner from her first race in 2002 at Santa Anita Park and would ultimately win 14 races before retiring (along with a number of second and third place finishes). And every year they produce a wine in this horse’s honor. Today, Michael remains heavily involved in horse racing and owns a number of racehorses.
The focus of their winemaking has always been on Cabernet Sauvignon, primarily from the Rutherford Appellation in Napa Valley – however they also produce Chardonnay and a California blend called Megahertz every year. In years past they produced a delicious Marsanne.
The 2017 Bello Family Vineyards Napa Valley Chardonnay is pale golden in color. Extremely pretty aromatics including honeysuckle, pineapple, almond, fresh honeycomb, ripe golden delicious apple, vanilla and creme Brulé. Rounded with a creamy texture across the palate but doesn’t feel weighty. Offers flavors of tangerine, white toast and a lemon zest. Fairly intensively flavored. Lingers with a lift of acidity and brightness along with lighter notes of butter.
The 2009 Bello Family Vineyards hillside grown Marsanne is blended with 25% Viognier. Aromatically this is a pretty wine, revealing stone fruit – white peach, honeysuckle, vanilla and just a hint of oak on the bouquet. The entry on the palate is rich – this is a balanced wine with no trace of oak on the finish. It has good acidity, is not too crisp and not too heavy either.
The 2009 Bello Family Vineyards Megahertz Cabernet Sauvignon is reasonably priced by Napa Valley standards with fruit from several premium area vineyards including from what was Michael’s own estate in Rutherford at the time. The nose is very aromatic – somewhat floral with a hint of smokiness. The palate is lighter in style, notes of cranberry and raspberry with delicate tannins anchor the clean finish. New releases of this wine now utilize grape sources from outside of the Napa Valley.
The 2009 Bello Family Cabernet Sauvignon is blended slightly with Petit Verdot and Malbec. This wine is dark in the glass with a sweet nose featuring ripe dark fruit – blackberry, black cherry. There is a core of sweet fruit throughout the palate – with a finish decidedly bigger than the Megahertz. Smoke, leather and dark fruit show on the palate. This wine is well layered on the palate and as it opens it becomes much more expressive on the bouquet.
During the first few years of their production most of their wine was sold through their mailing list and select restaurants without a retail outlet. That changed however, in August 2012 when Bello Family opened an opulent tasting room and retail outlet in the south part of the town of St. Helena – however Bello Family closed and moved out of this tasting room in early 2016 and it is now the home for Yao Ming wines.
Michael’s wife, Nancy had her own food line under the label “Nonna Nunzi” and these items were available at one point for purchase via their website including olives, tomato basil spread, artichoke spreads and more.
Today, Michael’s son Christopher manages all day-to-day operations (who we first met with after multiple trips to their old tasting room). His wife Chloe runs Alexandrie Cellars – and in Spring 2017 they released their first wine, a sparkling brut. This wine was awarded a gold medal at the 2019 Women’s Wine & Spirits Awards competition. For more information, to purchase this wine or to join either their Affiliate or Ambassador programs, visit: www.alexandriecellars.com
Tastings at Bello Family are now by appointment only – after the sale of their tasting room, we heard very limited tastings were being held at their estate in Rutherford. However as of our most recent update, their property has since sold, and we have noticed the sign on the gate at the entrance to the properties’ olive lined driveway has changed names.
This review has been identified as needing a **major** update.
The total production each year of Bello Family Vineyards is around several thousand cases. For more information and or to join the appropriately named Megahertz Wine Club, visit: www.bellofamilyvineyards.com