Saturday, January 11, 2014

Most Unusual Thing Happened! #gunbunwine Gundlach Bundschu #TheBroadmoor

This past week we were in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor Resort and Spa for our anniversary. As we waited for our table, I began taking pictures of some old bottles of wine encased on the walls outside The Tavern restaurant. I didn't even look at what I had taken until I showed my husband. He immediately said, "Honey, this is a Cabernet from Gundlach Bundschu!" I was shocked! Out of all the bottles of wine and whiskey that I could have taken a picture of, I took the Gundlach Bundschu Cabernet because I saw the word Cabernet and because he loves a great Cabernet.

There are literally hundreds of bottles to peruse, and I pick this one great Cabernet! 

How random that I would pick their wine out of thousands of bottles of wine found on the property in the early 1900's hidden by Spencer Penrose, the owner of the hotel at that time. He had hidden thousands of bottles of wine and whiskey in the walls of the hotel during Prohibition. Years later they were discovered when renovations were taking place. 

The bottles are encased in the walls throughout the Tavern and the walls leading to the ladies and men's rooms. They are dusty, dirty, and kept as original as possible for our generation to enjoy! Most of them still have wine and whiskey inside. Our waiter said that the bottles found empty were used to make the chandeliers and sconces in the restaurant. They are so unique and perfect for the decor of the Tavern!

This is the bottle I saw and took a photo of:

This was the first picture I took. After being seated at our table, I showed Don the pictures. He immediately noticed the other words (besides Cabernet) on the label. We both realized that we had missed an opportunity to taste their wines back in June 2012 on another winecation. Gundlach Bundschu was on our list of wineries to visit, but we didn't make it there. 

During dinner I realized that I must go back and take more photos of the same bottle so I could share on my blog just how fabulous a find this was! Well, I was excited!!!

After returning home to Dallas, and reading all of the history of this winery, here's what I found out! 
In 1858, Jacob Gundlach purchased 400 acres in Sonoma and called it Rhinefarm. He went back to Bavaria and married his sweetheart. They honeymooned throughout Germany and France buying the rootstock that he would eventually plant on Rhinefarm. He and three partners planted 60,000 vines on the ranch and the first vintage was in 1861. In 1862 Charles Bundschu emigrated from Germany and joined Jacob in the winery business in 1868.

In 1870 Phylloxera devastated the grape industry and that is when Jacob and his partner Dresel began experimenting with rootstock from Texas. These plantings produced grapes for nearly one hundred years until Jim replanted.

So in 1875, Charles joined the family and married Jacob's eldest daughter, Francis. Jacob died at the age of 76 and Charles took over the winery in 1894.

The Bacchus Club was a "wine and literary club in 1897 founded by Charles Bundschu. It celebrated the harvest and all gatherings in song, poem and prose. Then came the disaster of 1906, an earthquake and fire, that destroyed one million gallons of wine and three family homes. They retreated to their country home and began rebuilding as a modest estate winery."

Charles Bundschu died and his sons took over the winery. They won several awards before Prohibition, but had to close the doors in 1919 and the company was liquidated. Walter Bundschu held onto 130 of Rhinefarm growing pears and using the land for pastures. IN 1933, after the 21st Amendment was passed and wineries began to reopen, Walter's wife remained a Prohibitionist and the doors to the winery remained closed. The grapes were bought by his brother Carl, who ran Inglenook Winery in Napa. In 1938, Walter died and his son Towle came home to restore the Rhinefarm's 200 acres. In 1950, Louis Martini, a good friend of Towles, signed a contract to buy the grapes. 

Fast forward to 1969, Jim Bundschu, Towles son, convinced his father that the market was ripe for grapes again and he replanted Rhinefarm, tearing out all but 10 acres of pear trees. In 1970 Jim and his two brothers-in-law agreed to reopen the winery, but Towle refused to let them use the Gundlach Bundschu name. So they named it Vineburg.

After three years of success and commitment, Towle finally let them use the Gundlach Bundschu name after tasting the 1973 Zinfandel.

Gundlach Bundschu was reborn! It doesn't stop there either! Besides the great wines, they are a charitable family. They ride in a Tour de Cure which raises money to help cure diabetes and they support the 370th Engineer Company serving in Afganistan.

I could go on and on about their artist commissioned labels, and their vintage reserve barrels of wine, last year being the 30th release of the VR. I cannot wait to get back to Sonoma and visit this winery. I don't know what month it will be, but it will be in 2014!

Good job Gundlach Bundschu! I love your history, your interactive map, and can't wait to begin a love of your wines!