Having first met in Crested Butte, fallen in love in Colorado, and cultivated our passion for making really good wine here in Colorado, there’s no place we’d rather be. There’s something about this land, the people, and the way time passes here. You can see it in the vibrant sunsets, draping the sandstone cliffs that tower over the Western Slope’s orchards and vineyards, feel it while shaking hands and exchanging laughs with a farmer as you load up the season’s harvest, and taste it while taking that first sip of a new vintage, as fall’s cooler air funnels into the valley and golden aspens glow in the low-angled afternoon sun.
Colorado is truly a special place, and we aim to share as much of it with you as possible. From the terroir, to the history, and the adventures that await, come back here often for our family’s favorites of Colorado and Crested Butte.
Summer 2020 has been consistent with the rest of this challenging year. In fact, we can track the mayhem, as it pertains to wine anyway, back to last October when growers across the state of Colorado experienced an early frost which took its toll on many of the grapes and grapevines. This fall frost along with the April frost led to the loss of a substantial amount of fruit, including grapes. As you visited farmers' markets around the state, you may have noticed a shortage of cherries and other early season fruit as well. the grapes ripened quickly with the unseasonably warm spring and into the scorching hot, dry summer months. Ideally for wine the grapes need good acidity and sugar content, despite the stress grapes are looking good this season.
Late summer is harvest time at the vineyards, and just last week we saw the first of the Sauvignon Blanc being harvested in Palisade, CO. This year's harvest came 24 days earlier than last year's, but we were ready for them! Palisade may be famous for its peaches, but the same climate that lends itself to sweet, juicy, gorgeous stone fruit also lends itself to some excellent wine grapes! Right now we have our rose and that sav blanc fermenting, and they are both smelling and tasting great!
We recently visited some of the vineyards and saw that the red grapes still on the vines are looking wonderful! The growers shared some concern about this storm that we're seeing today, but are hopeful that the temps won't drop too low in those regions of the state. While we aren't seeing quite the bounty this year as we have in years past, our plan is to procure enough Colorado grapes this year to keep our production moving in an upward trajectory to meet the increasing demand that we're seeing. This year we'll be doubling production of our PétNat, so if you loved it there will be more, and if you missed it you'll have another chance to taste it this coming spring. We're excited to continue producing our wines with this year's grapes and then to share those wines with you!
Colorado Wine is coming into its own. Christina Holbrook recently wrote this essay sharing the story and history of Warren Winiarski and his plight as one of Americans pioneering winemarkers, competing and winning against French wines in the Paris tasting of 1976.
Warren took a liking to Colorado and the budding CO wine scene in the early 70's and has continued to share his insight and expertise with the region.
Kelly Hayes of the WineInk column in the Aspen Times also shared a summary of Christina's essay.
Read them both to learn more about Colorado's Wine history.
If you joined us for First Fridays Art Walk in July or August, you may have noticed a series of linoleum block prints adorning the walls. These are just a few of the pieces that local Crested Butte artist John Fellows has created throughout his carreer. Inspired by his international travels as well as his home in Colorado, John calls on motifs of nature, folkloric characters, and his sense of adventure to create layers of shapes and imagery that come together in his hand-cut block prints. Each print is created by first sketching an image, then tracing it backwards, then cutting and etching each and every line into linoleum, and finally sculpting them together into a block. The linoleum block then serves as an exquisitely detailed rubber stamp which is used to print the final image onto paper. Fellows loves using found objects including antique maps and letters that date as far back as the 1880's as the backdrops for his block prints. Once printed, the layers of the linoleum block come together for a clean finish, but in fact the piece is far more multidimensional than the vintage paper it is printed on. The process is long and sometimes tedious for the artist, but - as you'll see next time you visit our tasting room - the result is intricate and beautiful. John's work has been featured on festival posters, and on products by companies such as Smartwool, Element Skateboards, and other major outdoor brands. We are pleased to exhibit his work in our Gunnison tasting room throughout the summer and fall.
At Buckel Family Wine, we love being a part of local farmers' markets throughout the Western Slope of Colorado. This season we travel to Crested Butte, just up the valley from our winery in Gunnison, and to Telluride for their weekly markets.
In Crested Butte, you can find us on Elk Avenue between 1st and 2nd Streets every Sunday morning, and in Telluride the market is on Oak Street, just up the road from the gondola, on Fridays between 10:30 am and 4:00 pm.
We source all of the fruit that becomes our wine from Colorado growers, so bringing that finished product to these markets feels like a natural extension of our farm-to-bottle process. Our entire collection of wines is available at the Farmers' Markets that we attend, and we enjoy having the opportunity to invite market customers to Gunnison for a visit to our tasting room. In the past we have enjoyed sharing samples of our wines with prospective customers and market browsers, but we are currently unable to offer samples due to public health restrictions. Nonetheless, chatting about wine with locals and visitors alike is one of our favorite parts of the industry!
Farmers' Markets offer the best opportunities to meet colorful local characters, creative artists, and innovative growers. We are always grateful to meet like-minded folks who are as passionate about local produce as we are! We particularly love the freshly cut flowers from the North Fork Valley offered by Zephyros Farm and the breads from Blue Grouse Bread out of Norwood at the Telluride market. Next time you're in Crested Butte on a Sunday or Telluride on a Friday during the summer months, please find our booth at the market and say hello!
To celebrate the Summer Solstice this year, I attended a backyard wine tasting. I am so grateful for the generosity and creativity of my friends who hosted the occasion - what a fun evening! Buckle Family Wine brought their entire catalog of Colorado wines, ranging from a refreshing and flavorful rose to a deep, bold cabernet blend. At the request of the host, each guest brought a dish to pair with one of the seven varieties. Joe Buckel and his wife Shamai guided us through our tasting, describing the varietals and the creation of each wine, and each guest then presented their paired dish. Over the course of about three hours, we ate and drank, chatted and learned about the incredible variety of wine that is possible with 100% Colorado-grown fruit.
I was impressed by the affordable price point of Buckel Family Wines, which seems to average about $20 per bottle. In the past I have been disappointed to purchase a bottle at other tasting events, only to bring it home and realize that the ambiance and company of the event had added flavor to an otherwise flat-tasting glass of wine. This is not the case here! Last night, paired with slow roasted pork spare ribs from Calder Farm and a crisp salad from our backyard garden, we opened a bottle of the Cabernet Franc that I purchased at the Solstice tasting. The bright cherry color was equally as vibrant in my glass at home, and the bold yet mellow flavor profile was just as delicious in my kitchen on our mix-matched dinner plates as it was outdoors, surrounded by good friends, on the longest night of the year.
Consider having Buckel Family Wine at your next event... virtually or in your backyard!
ROSÉ - Today April 20th
Rosé all day! Rosé has been around since the beginning of wine. In those times, red and white wine were made in fresher style with less skin contact to accent fruitiness. Hence, the red wines looked like Rosé! More skin contact gives red wine its darker color and tannin. The color of Rosé depends on how long the juice is in contact with the skins of the red grapes. Less contact and you have a beautiful light peach color. More contact and it starts turning pink, a bit more and you start to get a light red wine. It’s really fun is when a rusty colored grape like Pinot Gris is used, the skin contact with the juice developes into an orange wine.
Rosé has seen a grand resurgence in the last decade. Moving away from the sweet style of White Zin and all the replicas known as ‘Blush’ that were made in the 70’s and 80’s out of California. These days, Rosé is presented in a drier version expressing the delicate nuance of the fruit used, which I must say is, much more preferred. Some of these are sparkling too!
How is Rosé made? There are 3 ways to make Rosé. The majority is produced using red grapes with little or no skin contact, Maceration, to keep wine lighter in color. This is the classic method for areas like Provence and the Loire in France, and of course, Buckel Family Wine in Colorado. Sometimes red grapes will be put in a fermenter(juice, skins and all) where the slightly colored juice is drained off and fermented, this method is called Saignée, ‘bleeding’ in French. Lastly, white and red wine can be Blended to create a ‘pink’ wine. This method is not used so much, except for Champagne. Bubbles!
Let’s have a glass! The flavor most associated with Rosé is strawberry, lovely! There can also be some other delicate flavors of tart cherry, melon, rose petal, hibiscus and citrus. Rosé can also show the much argued over term, minerality and have some green flavors like chard or rhubarb. What should we eat with Rosé? Well the French nailed this one pairing it with bouillabaisse, a mediterranean fish stew including shellfish and Provençal herbs that originated in Marseille. Other Rosé pairings include, spring peas, asparagus, ham, roast chicken, salads, stone crabs, fish, cheese, turkey, pizza, french fries and doughnuts! Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Rosé with about any food or on its own. Rosé all day!
This is shaping up to be a tough month for our little valley in the West Elk Mountains of Colorado. One of the most profitable months for our businesses in the winter was cut short by a global pandemic. We have been impacted further by the spread of the COVID-19 virus in our community. We are a hot spot in CO.
Lately in the news, I am seeing CEO’s from across the nation lineup in Washington with hats in hand looking for free or no interest money. Again, we are back to the “too big to fail”. Back to the soulless corporations lining their pockets so their executives can maintain their oversized pay packages. Historically, our leaders have relied on giving money to the top, in the hope it trickles down through our economic system. This has been an inefficient solution at best.
What about the Soul of small communities? Back to our little valley, missing out on a profitable month can make or break a small business. And what about the employees that cannot be retained? We have already had the soul of our valley chipped away at by rising home prices and rent, and not a lot of high paying jobs to match. The current climate will only exacerbate our situation. We are seeing a lot of our small business do anything they can to stay open, keep a couple employees on, provide a few services. Basically, try to stay alive and survive!
THIS IS A CALL TO ARMS! Get out and support YOUR small local businesses! Order a lunch or dinner. Try to find your goods and services locally. And of course get a bottle of wine to create a relaxing moment in these stressful times. I want to see the diversity of our community and communities across the country remain intact and healthy. As a small community let’s support each other with the intention of building tighter bonds and feeding our Soul!
Ever wonder what makes your wine sparkling? There are a number of different methods that producers use to create the bubbles. Champagne is made by using the Méthode Traditionelle, in which a dry, still wine gets an addition of sugar and yeast and is bottled. This causes a second fermentation inside of the bottle, thus creating bubbles. Prosecco is produced with the Charmat method, where dry, still wine gets the addition of yeast and sugar and is left in a pressure ready tank. The second fermentation happens inside of this tank, which traps all of the bubbles, and is then bottled. Another way of making sparkling wine is to pump CO2 directly into still wine to achieve a bubbling beverage.
But the oldest and perhaps simplest way of creating sparkling wine is the Méthode Ancestrale, or pétillant naturel (pét-nat) style. To make a pét-nat, we simply bottle a wine before it has finished fermenting. The residual sugar in the wine ferments in bottle, creating light, natural bubbles.
Similar to méthode traditionelle, because the wine has fermented in the bottle, we are left with sediment in the bottom as a result. By AOC rules, for Champagnes this sediment must be removed. In order to achieve this, winemakers put the bottles in riddling racks, which hold the bottles upside down, so that the yeast falls into the cap and neck of the bottle. Next, the bottleneck is frozen to trap that sediment into a plug of frozen wine. Winemakers then disgorge; they uncap the bottle and let the frozen plug fly out, leaving a clean bottle of bubbly wine left. Wine and sometimes a little sugar is then added back to the bottle before it is finally corked and caged.
Not all Pét-Nat wines have to go through this disgorging process, and many producers prefer not to, as they enjoy the natural style of the wine with sediment. While some may be weary of sediment and cloudiness in a wine, others enjoy the added mouthfeel and rustic character.
This past harvest season, we bottled a portion of our Syrah rosé before it had finished fermenting to create a pét-nat style wine. Our bottles have all fermented creating a nice bubbly wine. We’ve turned all of our bottles upside down in order to catch the sediment in the cap, and we have decided to disgorge the bottles in order to achieve a cleaner style sparkling. Soon, we will create ice baths, plunge the bottles, and have a messy day of popping bottles. This spring you will be able to enjoy our Syrah Rosé pét-nat and pop some bottles yourselves!
Unfortunately due to COVID19 our March events have been cancelled as of Friday March 13th. Check back for events in later spring or summer.
For this month, we have a variety of events happening around Colorado.
Saturday March 7th, Basecamp Tasting. For folks in the Summit County area, head on over to Basecamp Wine and Spirits for an in-store tasting.
4-7pm @ Basecamp Wine & Spirits, 223 Lusher Ct #1, Frisco, CO 80443
Click here for more information on Basecamp Wine & Spirits free tastings. https://basecampliquors.com/free-tastings/
Tuesday March 10th, Professional Women’s Network. Join us at the Urban Market in Durango for a women’s networking event. This is an opportunity to connect with fellow community members and to inspire growth in each other’s professional and personal lives. Tickets are $10 for PWN members and $20 for nonmembers, and can be purchased at the door. A portion of the proceeds go to the Women’s Resource Center!
5:00 PM to 6:30 PM @ Urban Market, 865 Main Ave, Durango
For more information and to get tickets: Women's Resource Center Durango http://wrcdurango.org/events/womens-history-month/pwn-event/
Wednesday, March 11th, Winemaker Dinner. The Palisade Café 11.0 will be hosting a multi-course meal, each paired with one of our delicious wines. Our winemaker, Joe Buckel, will be there to mingle and talk about our wines while Chef John Sabal serves up delicious food. This dinner is described as an intimate, relaxed, unpretentious, country casual event. Seats are limited, so go ahead and register now!
Doors open at 5:30pm @ The Palisade Café 11.0, 113 W 3rd St, Palisade, CO 81526
Click Here to register for this event. https://www.palisadecafe11.com/events-1/winemaker-dinner-5-buckel-family-wine
Friday, March 13th, Gunnison Valley Health Gala. The Gunnison Valley Health Foundation is hosting its Inaugural Gala event to honor Tough Enough to Wear Pink. Renowned Chef Jason Vernon of Speckled Goose Culinary will be serving a four-course menu paired with our fine wines to create a not-to-be-missed dinner. In addition, there will be live music and entertainment to bring you a fun filled evening.
6-10:30pm @ Center for the Arts Crested Butte, 606 6th St, Crested Butte, CO 81224
Purchase tickets here. https://www.gunnisonvalleyhealth.org/Events-Calendar/Event-Details.aspx?Event=56
Saturday, March 14th Science of Winemaking. Join us at the winery for part two of our winemaking courses through the Center for the Arts Crested Butte. Here we will guide you through the basic science behind the winemaking process, from testing grapes, juice and wine, to fermentation, equipment and corking. This will be a fun and interactive class whether you are wanting to know the basics of how wine is made or if you make wine at home and want to grow your knowledge. This event includes light hors d’oeuvres, and plenty of our delicious wine for you to taste.
3-5pm @ Buckel Family Wine, 1018 Hwy 135, Unit B, Gunnison, CO 81230
To register for the class, click here https://www.crestedbuttearts.org/The-Art-Science-of-Winemaking-Series
Tuesday, March 31st EAT Colorado Food Show. This event brings innovative Colorado food and beverage producers together with the buyers from restaurants, caterers, grocers, distributors, hospitals, municipalities, and school systems to foster a greater connection and understanding of our dynamic food system. We will be showing our fine wines along with many other producers of wine, beer, spirits, produce, grains, meats, preserves, condiments, honey, baked goods, and more. There will be a speaker series in addition, to provide further information on current Colorado food topics.
11am-3pm @ National Western Complex, 4655 Humboldt Street Denver, CO 80216
Registration and more information https://eatcolorado.org/