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.
Have you ever gone home with a clear bottle of white wine, popped it in the fridge, and then noticed crystals in the bottom of the bottle or in your glass? Those are formed by tartaric acid, which naturally occurs in grapes. These tartrate crystals can form after the wine ferments and if the wine becomes oversaturated with tartaric acid. The excess acid is suspended in the wine, and can then form crystals and drop out. These tartrate crystals are not harmful to consume, however they are not exactly desirable.
Another issue that can arise with these wines is heat instability. A seemingly clear bottle of wine can turn hazy when exposed to higher heat. For instance, you might go to a winery and buy a nice clear bottle of white wine, and store it in your trunk while you head out for a bike ride. If it’s a summer day and your car gets hot, you could come back to find a now cloudy bottle of wine. This heat instability is due to the naturally occuring proteins in grapes, and some have significantly more than others.
In order to avoid these outcomes, we at Buckel Family Wine will put our white and rose wines through cold and heat stabilization. To cold stabilize the wine, it is as simple as cooling the wine tank down to about 30 degrees (F). The tartrate crystals will form in the tank and fall to the bottom, and deposit around the sides of the tank. To heat stabilize the wine, we use Bentonite (which is a clay substance) to bind to the proteins that can cause the cloudiness. This will also then fall to the bottom of the tank, and we are left with clean, stable wine.
At that point, we will be about ready to bottle the wines, just after sending them through a filtering process to ensure they are fully stable and clean wines, and that there will be no issues that arise once they are in the bottle. Our goal is to deliver wines that are expressive and natural. Therefore, we only do as much as needed to deliver quality, while making sure these wines don’t lose what makes them unique.
The 2020 Colorado wine conference featured speakers who offered information on a variety of winemaking and grape growing topics and techniques. From how yeast exactly works to wine flaws and faults, to how to make sparkling wine via the Charmat method, there was plenty of knowledge to absorb. The wonderful thing about winemaking is that there are so many variations in the process that affect your end product and display your style. Here at Buckel Family Wine, we believe in making old-world style wines that are able to show the true character of the grape and of the terroir. We achieve this by using minimal intervention in the winemaking process, meaning less additives and no filtering for our red wines.
One process that most people are familiar with however is barrel aging. Tim Donahue, Executive Director of the Institute for Enology and Viticulture at Walla Walla Community College in Washington State presented on the the influence of oak in winemaking. He explained the barrel making process from oak seedling to finished product (which takes a long time as you could imagine), and how barrels can be used to benefit your wine.
Specific species of oak trees are grown in different geographic areas, resulting in varying characteristics that they impart on the wine.The biggest difference is between French (or European) oak and American oak. These types of oak can influence wines quite differently, usually the French being more subtle and spicy and the American being more bold with notes of coconut. Once the oak is harvested, it is cut into staves and left outside to cure for up to two years. Once cured, the staves are assembled into the beginnings of a barrel and are then toasted. The toasting process is another key component of how the barrel influences the wine. The heavier the toast, the more intense the barrel imparts flavors on the wine. In their early years, barrels impart a stronger influence in the wine’s flavor profile. After a few years, the intensity of the oak dissipates. For bolder wines, one might choose a newer barrel. For more delicate, subtle wines, one might opt for an older barrel.
For our wines, we choose French oak barrels that have already seen a few years of use. This allows us to age our wines for up to 18 months without overpowering the wine’s inherent flavor profile, and allows the oak to gently smooth out the tannins over time. We end up with a wine that has balanced characteristics and is ready to drink or age gracefully in bottle. Upon receiving barrels new to us, we make sure to take good care of them so that we can use them well. This means cleaning, rehydrating, tightening up the leakers. Once the barrels are full of wine, we check on them and top them up regularly to prevent space for oxidation or for unwanted yeast/bacteria to take over.
As the cold temps carry on, we have exciting events happening in February that’ll make you want to head back outside again!
We are pleased to announce that our Wine Bar in Gunnison will be officially open February 20, 2020! After the busy months of harvest came to an end, we took some time to revisit our 2018 Reds and get them into bottle. Now, we have been able to focus on creating a space where you can taste our wines, enjoy a glass, and purchase those bottles to take home! Our wine bar features a large communal table, comfy benches, and smaller tables as well. So, whether you are looking to connect and share experiences with new friends or have a cozy intimate evening, this is the perfect spot. In addition to our wines, we will be offering small bites of delicious food. Contact us about booking your next party or event at the wine bar.
Visit us Wedesday-Saturday 2pm-7pm. We are located at 1018 Highway 135, Unit B, Gunnison, Colorado 81230.
Feb 1st, Colorado Crafted. Join us at the Colorado Crafted event from 2-6pm at The Elevation Hotel & Spa in Mt. Crested Butte. This event is a great way to cap off your day whether you’ve been skiing around town in the Alley Loop or downhill at the resort. We will be there pouring our wines alongside other wineries, breweries, cideries, and distillers all from Colorado. In addition to the craft beverages, there will be small plates of food and live music by Coal Creek Connection. Purchase VIP tickets if you would like to participate in specialty tastings at 1pm with the chance to chat one-on-one with the vendors, and enter the Romp Skis giveaway!
Read more about this event and find tickets: Colorado Crafted
Winemaker Joe Buckel in conjuction with the Center for the Arts Crested Butte will be hosting a two-part series on the ART + SCIENCE of Winemaking on February 8th and March 14.
Learn more about this exciting series: Center for the Arts Crested Butte
Feb 28th Winemaker Dinner. Meet us in Grand Junction on Friday, February 28th at DinnerParty for our one of a kind Winemaker Dinner. Our winemaker, Joe Buckel, will be joining Chef Josh Niernberg of Bin707 to serve thoughtful pairings of expressive wines and spectacular food. The evening will include seven of our wines to accompany a passed appetizer followed by a six-course menu. Throughout the event, Joe and Josh will be talking about the wine and food, creating a fun and interactive experience. There is a limit of 30 seats, so be sure to reserve ASAP!
Info and tickets: Winemaker Dinner
Info and tickets:
Finally, we will be pouring wines to sip and sample at the following places:
Redlands Liquor Store @ 3-6pm Friday, Feb 7th
2518 Broadway B7, Grand Junction, CO 81507
Fisher Liquor Barn @ 4-6pm Saturday, Feb 29th
2438 Patterson Rd, Grand Junction, CO 81505
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.
Go to /Wines and purchase 6 bottles or more of the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc and enter the code SAUVBLANC at checkout to receive 5% off plus free shipping for the rest of May! Add other bottles to make it a full case and receive free shipping on those wines as well :)
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!’