If there ever were an “MTV Cribs of Napa Valley Wineries” series, Bello Family’s tasting room would surely make the cut.
It’s easy to drive by this spot as you head North through St. Helena, California. The inconspicuous exterior is elusively humble, and doesn’t quite exude the sense of luxury and style that’s found inside. While most wineries in the area are best described as “rustic” with a dash of country charm, Bello’s new tasting room reminds you of a ‘baller spot’ you’d expect to find in a high-end Las Vegas hotel, like the Cosmopolitan. There’s an over the top sense of luxury and opulence that strays from the traditionally restrained style that most wineries choose for their interiors.
At Bello, every inch of the interior oozes with Phillipe Starck-like glamour, and monochromatic, glittering style. A giant chandelier made of 200 ruby red wine bottles and halogen pin lights hangs suspended from wires above a translucent, back-lit white quartz counter in the center of the tasting room. In stark contrast with the heavy carved woods and earth tones you’d expect from a winery, Bello chose a cool, almost monochromatic, palette. High-back red upholstered Bergere chairs, like small thrones, frame the fireplace, while club members can lounge in private tasting rooms lined with silver tufted wall paneling. The Megahertz room, named after their winning racehorse, has a vintage chandelier clad with antique wine glasses. A 400 square foot skylight stretches across the ceiling, and antiqued mirrors adorn the walls.
Most tasting rooms with this sort of image bring with them high levels of stuffy pretentiousness, which can be a turn off for guests who don’t drive Ferraris or own a minimum of three vacation properties. At Bello, however, the vibe is laid back, fun, and welcoming. Chris Bello can often be found behind the bar, his calm, welcoming demeanor making any visitor feel at home. Club members are treated to pizza parties at the estate vineyard nearby, with the winery occasionally hosting small gatherings at the tasting room that stretch deep into the night.
No matter what you think of the Bello Winery’s design and decor, it’s hard to argue about the quality of the wines they’re putting out. Owner Michael Bello has assembled an all-star team to make his boutique wines. With David Abreau managing the vineyards, and Aaron Pott making the juice, the results are nothing short of extraordinary. Pott recently won a “Winemaker of the Year” award from Food & Wine, and has been making killer wines for Blackbird and Seven Stones among others. Abreau is a native of Rutherford, where some of the world’s finest Cabernet grapes are grown, and honed his vineyard management skills early on at Inglenook and Caymus. From there, he set out on his own and now owns one of the most prestigious vineyard management companies in the area.
Their lineup of wines includes several varieties of whites and reds. When I visited, we tried their Chardonnay, which had moderate oak and bright peach flavors. We also sampled their new “Oliver” Sauvignon Blanc, which was an outstanding example of a great white wine-displaying an array of stone fruit flavors with crisp acidity. They also have three Cabernets that range from the $50 “Megahertz” offering, to the $250 ’09 Reserve, which garnered 94+ points from Wine Advocate. In addition, they have a 2008 Cabernet for $100 that combines fruit from three great vineyards in Rutherford and Mt. Veeder.
Bello Family Vineyards
929 Main St.
St. Helena, CA 94574
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