For the Buckels, wine is a way of life.
“In our family, a love of Colorado and good wine runs deep,” they share on their website, buckelfamilywine.com.
Joe and Shamai Buckel, the husband-and-wife team behind Buckel Family Wine, broke into the wine business back in 2005 in California’s Sonoma County, which is a popular winemaking region, but relocated in 2017 to the Gunnison area, where the two initially met in 1996. Since then, they’ve imbedded themselves in the Colorado wine industry, which may not be as well-known as the Golden State’s yet, but is thriving and produces high quality vino.
“Wine business in Colorado is currently all about teaching people that Colorado produces world class wine. It's certainly worth trying and likely worth supporting,” Shamai Buckel said. “We source 100 percent of our grapes from small family farms on the Western Slope, and we work to connect wine drinkers to that experience. Wine has been emerging in Colorado since the late 1960s, although it's still working to get on the wine map. As risk takers, we are trying to increase the quality of the Colorado wine industry. There's still pioneering happening in the colorful state.”
The Buckels have been doing business, as well as enjoying the skiing, in Telluride for the last 12 years, she added, and recently opened a tasting room in the Nugget Building at 201 West Colorado Ave. in the Fir Street Studio. They’ve also previously sold their wines at the Telluride Farmers Market to much acclaim and decided to expand into the area, where they share a space with artist Eunika Rogers, who owns Red Dirt Studio and Gallery.
“In that time we built lots of relationships and made really good friends. It's a place we like to spend time, and our partnership with Red Dirt felt right. Last summer, we sold bottles of wine at the Telluride Farmers Market and our wines were well received,” she said.
Rogers, who paints with wine and clay, sources her materials from vineyards and uses the same terroir in her creations that winemakers do to make wine. She also worked with the Buckels during last summer’s farmers market. To say it was a perfect fit is an understatement.
“It was a matter of time before I partnered up with a winery,” Rogers said. “We decided to continue on our success and love of wine and art. Their wine compliments my work, and I think my work compliments their wine.”
More about Rogers and her work can be found on her website at eunikarogers.com.
The business offers a variety of wines, including sauvignon blancs, chardonnays and zinfandels. There are also wine club options available online, as well as information about each bottle and what it pai well with.
“We produce Old-World styled wines with minimal intervention; allowing the terroir and grapes of Colorado to express themselves. We pride ourselves in making outstanding wine, while living in the place we love most, and doing the things that make us happiest,” the Buckels explain in their mission statement. “Together, around the Buckel family table, we nurture our affection and appreciation for good people and really good wine. From an indispensable relationship with the Western Slope’s incredible farmers and keen attention at every stage of wine development, to a down-right loyal enthusiasm for sharing seasonal, exceptionally-good, locally-sourced food around the table each evening, life in Colorado is just too good. And always calls for really good wine.”
Opening a new business in a new location can be stressful, but doing it all during a global pandemic adds an additional layer of concern and care.
“Opening and running a new business during a pandemic is pure chaos. It's a constant process of adapting to change and uncertainty. We personally deliver to wholesale clients across the state, and witnessing each of these communities manage the pandemic in their own way was interesting — the waves of infection impacting different communities at different times with varying degrees of severity and concern. Each small business we work with adapted to follow state and local regulations, finding ways to keep patrons safe, ensuring that employees had confidence in the workplace, all the while finding ways to enjoy the process,” Shamai Buckel shared.
But it all comes back to family and being in it together, she said, adding children Kalyn and Cy even help in designing the bottle labels.
“The family aspect of Buckel connects us to the small business lifestyle and working together, running a business and raising kids in the mountains and how to connect them to good times and hard work,” she said.