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.
Gunnison Valley, CO
Colorado grapes are getting better…
Sunset Magazine International Wine Competition 2019 awards Buckel Family Wine’s 2016 Chardonnay with gold.
With a growing Colorado presence in the wine industry, it’s great to see Colorado Wineries as well as Colorado grapes receiving national recognition. Buckel Family Wine was awarded a gold medal for their 2016 Chardonnay in the 2019 Sunset Magazine International Wine Competition. The wine was made from Chardonnay grapes grown in Palisade, CO by grower Black Bear Orchards. The competition also awarded other Colorado wineries with medals, although the grapes were sourced from outside of the state.
The November/December issue of Sunset Magazine recognizes the best wines of the west on page 67.
About Buckel Family Wine: Buckel Family Wine was founded in 2017 by winemaker Joe Buckel and his wife Shamai. They have been getting their wines into the hands of restaurants and liquor stores throughout Colorado, with rave reviews. The winery uses 100% Colorado sourced grapes from Palisade, Hotchkiss, and Cortez vineyards. They produce the wines in Gunnison, CO, with a tasting room slated to open in February.
Buckel Family Wine believes the nuanced grape flavors should be expressed on the nose and palette profile of each wine. Buckel wines are handmade in an old world natural style, with the red wine being unfined and unfiltered. Classical winemaking techniques are used, with minimal intervention, and no sugars or additives. Other wines being produced by Buckel Family wine include, a red blend, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Cinsualt, Rosé, and Sauvignon Blanc.
“Our 2016 Chardonnay is created in a Burgundian style with grapes sourced from vines planted in the 1970’s in Palisade, CO. It is an expressive Chardonnay with a richness on the palate finishing with focused acidity,” Joe Bucke
Buckel Family Wine Tasting Room Is Opening January 2020
Colorado is truly a special place, and we aim to share as much of it with you as possible which is why we decided back in June to build a tasting room to share with our wine club members, wine enthusiasts and the people of the Gunnison Valley. We decided it was time for us to create a new space where friends, newcomers, fans of Buckel Family Wine and curious wine seekers could come sit around our tables, exchange stories of adventures along with a glass of really good wine.
At the heart of our new tasting room, we wanted to focus on offering a comfortable community-focused space that has the capacity for us to showcase what is spectacular about Colorado wines, offer engaging experiences and host unique tastings and experimentations. We know that you will love the space and we invite you to host your private events with us. The tasting room will be a perfect location for catered events, work parties and other creative endeavors. Please email us to discuss your event in further details.
The tasting room will be open to the public and all are welcome. Wines will be served by knowledgeable staff as tastings, by the glass and as selected flights. The Buckel Family Wine Bar will be a great happy hour destination as well as a great place to stop and purchase wine before heading up valley. You can find the tasting room and wine bar located at 1018 Highway 135, Unit B, Gunnison. When driving towards Crested Butte, we are located on the east side of Highway 135 just north of Gunnison.
Now is the perfect time to join our Wine Club because all Buckel Family Wine Club Members will receive a free glasses of wine at the tasting room, as well as discounts on wine purchases. Learn more by visiting our Club Membership page.
We are thrilled that our expansion project is in its final stages; we thought we would get into the tasting room this fall but we feel its better to be conservative and we will be spending the next month finishing up construction and furnishing the wine bar. We plan to be open and operating Thursday-Sundays from 2:00-7:00pm beginning in January 2020. We will announce our official first day in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to us with your questions and please follow us on Facebook and Instagram for updates and photos.
The Buckel Family Wine label is new in the Colorado Wine scene, although our winemaker has been part of this emerging region for over a decade.
After spending time in Sonoma County with BR Cohn, Flowers under Ross Cobb, and Rutz Cellars Joe got his Enologist degree from U.C. Davis and moved west to continue to hone his skills as a winemaker. With the opportunity to build the Sutcliffe Vineyards label from 1,000 cases to over 5,000 cases Joe became embedded in the Colorado landscape and the vineyards that span the Western Slope of Colorado.
The Colorado Plateau often referenced as the "Western Slope" is the southwest desert, which abuts against the Rocky Mountains. This provides high altitude intense heat with cool nighttime temperatures and breezes in the summer. Water is typically scarce until the summer monsoons hit in mid-July, bringing rains that soak the red earth. Fruits ripen with thickened skins due to the intense UV’s.
With the high altitude come concerns around spring and fall frosts. Spring frosts can impact fruit set and completely wipe out crops. The fall frosts can nip the fruit before it is fully ripened, which can naturally lead to lower alcohol wines.
Buckel Family Wine prides itself on being a modern, mountain-town winery with a strong connection to the farmers and land from which the grapes come from. We spend time getting to know the farmers and enjoy walking the vineyard with them.
Our wines are built to last and evolve overtime whether in the bottle or in the glass. We value eating farm to table food with local wines, family, and friends. We have been lucky enough to have our label in some of the finer wine shops and farm to table restaurants in the state. With a competitive bottle price our wine brand is one of the most reputable in the state, and that comes from our desire to make wine that reflect the terroir of our unique region.
I taste melon in the Sauvignon Blanc...
It is a bit of a rarity to find the flavor and aroma of melon in a Sauvignon Blanc. This varietal mostly shows grapefruit to different extents, but has the ability to exhibit melon, peach, passion fruit and floral notes. The chemical compounds that are responsible for the melon and other fruity notes are esters.
Esters are formed by the reaction of acids with alcohols. The esters of the lovely Sauvignon Blanc are formed during fermentation, hence called fermentation esters. Their formation depends on the grapes, yeast used, fermentation kinetics and temperature. Esters are very sensitive and be be easily lost due to elevated fermentation temps and rapid formation of carbon dioxide. To keep these esters in the wine a number of techniques can be used.
The most important factor is fermentation temperature. Cooling the fermentation helps to slow the fermentation causing less carbon dioxide production and heat, therefore retaining more of the esters formed during fermentation. The selection of yeast is important as some yeasts ferment slower than others allowing for less heat and carbon dioxide production. Certain strains of yeast can promote ester production during fermentation adding to the total esters formed.
Keeping esters in the wine is what we pay most attention to during the production of our Sauvignon Blanc. We like melon in the Buckel Family Wine Sauvignon Blanc!
flavors of ‘GREEN’ in my wine...
Green bell pepper in Cabernet Sauvignon, grassy Sauvignon Blanc, and green chili notes in Cabernet Franc are some of the ‘green’ flavors that we pick up in wine.
These flavors are caused by a group of compounds called Methoxypyrazines. In particular, two compounds in this group are important for wine. 3-isobutyl-2-methoxypyrazine is responsible for the green bell pepper, green chili, nettles, green gooseberry, and the grassy nature of wine. This compound is welcomed in wine adding a level of complexity and spice. The second compound, 3-isopropyl-2-methoxypyrazine shows cooked or canned asparagus, which is not appreciated as much in the aroma and flavor profile of a wine. This second compound can be found in New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs.
Methoxypyrazines usually accumulate in the grape varietals; Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. This makes good sense as these grape varietals are closely related. Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc were hybridized to create Cabernet Sauvignon.
Can growers control how much of these compounds are in the wines? Why yes, farming and harvesting practices greatly influence the levels of methoxpyrazines in the wine. Cooler locations and higher yields can result in under ripe grapes, which leads to increased levels of methoxypyrazines in the grapes. Colorado wine comes from higher elevation and therefor cooler locations. Finding the sweet spot with grape yields is important in creating a balanced wine, and the 3-7 ton per acre number seems to be the ideal yield for this fruit. Our winemaker Joe Buckel visits all the vineyards we source from to assess fruit quantity and quality.
Buckel Family Wine Sauvignon Blanc has mild grassy notes with melon and great acidity. The Cabernet Franc comes from a vineyard in Palisade that is notorious for showing the capsicum aroma in the glass! Pick one up and try it for yourself.
In the last few years Cabernet Franc has become one ofthe featured red varietals in Colorado. The grape is consistent year to year, producing high quality wines that show raspberry, strawberry, cassis, plum, bell pepper, tobacco, and spice. Cabernet Franc fares well in Colorado’s altitude, dry climate, and shorter growing season. It historically has enjoyed success in sandy soils, which is prevalent in Colorado, producing a more robust wine. It is early to bud break and early to ripen. This can be challenging in the spring during frosty evenings in late April and early May, but allows for full maturity at harvest in late September.
Through DNA testing it has been confirmed that Cabernet Franc has its origins in Bordeaux, where it is used extensively in blending. The aromatics of Cabernet Franc are unmatched, making it a lovely component in red wine blends.
Shortly after it was originally planted, cuttings were taken to the Loire Valley where the varietal thrives. A 100% Cabernet Franc wine is more common from the Chinon area of the Loire. The rosés from Chinon are also made from Cabernet Franc. So in that vein, Colorado has used more of a Loire style of utilizing the famed grape as a single varietal wine.
Fun Fact: Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc are the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Palisade Café recently said, ’Holy shit - we’re all LOVING your Cabernet Franc. WOW!’
The warmer temperatures are here, and spring is inevitably on it’s way. On the western slope of Colorado the cherries and apricots are starting to bud out, with a litany of fruiting trees and vines to follow. The grape vines have been pruned and are ready for bud break, which typically occurs around April 20th.
Last year at this time our landscape looked very different, the land was parched and dry, very dry. The snowpack was at record lows throughout Colorado and the entire west, naturally leading to dusty lands, fewer wildflowers, stressed trees and vines, smaller amounts of water in our rivers, and reservoirs that look empty.
In fact, Colorado Reservoirs are going to be starting this spring at their lowest levels since being originally filled, even with the above average snowfall this winter. It was exciting times for the ski towns of Colorado, as we saw historic avalanches running all around us. The above average snowfall will begin to fill the reservoirs, which in turn can be used for farming and growing produce on the Western Slope of Colorado.
These two regions supply much of Colorado with fruit, such as peaches, apples, plums, and of course grapes for making into wine. This is great news for Colorado and meeting our water needs within the state. Although most water managers believe we will not fill our reservoirs this summer due to the parched earth from previous years, increased water usage, and down stream shortages.
How might all this impact grapes within our state? Well thats hard to say. We do know that water is vital for shoot growth, vine health, and optimal leaf conditions. All of these factors ultimately impact the quality of the fruit, which directly relates to the quality of the wine.
In the wine world folks often refer to the ‘Goldilocks Condition,’ where the earth is the perfect distance from the sun, allowing for the right water balance on earth to sustain all life… plant and animal.