Gundlach Bundschu, or more affectionately called “Gun Bun”, is one of the oldest operating family owned wineries in the US. Since Jacob Gundlach purchased the Sonoma property he named Rhinefarm in 1858 and Charles Bundschu joined as a partner in 1868, six generations of the Bundschu family have diligently nurtured their 320 acres of vineyards. With a reputation for producing consistent, high quality wines, this remarkable estate at the base of the Mayacamas Mountain Range is located at the crossroads of the Sonoma Valley, Carneros and Napa Valley appellations.
Besides making incredible wines, the folks over at Gun Bun have always shown a passion for the arts. In 1875 Charles Bundschu married Jacob Gundlach’s daughter, Francisca. It is said that the energetic and devoted pair were active members of the German community, avid patrons of the arts and prominent members of San Francisco society. Quite a well known poet, Charles formed the Bacchus Club, a wine and literary club that celebrated the harvest and all gatherings in song, poem and prose. In 1897 one of the members wrote a play in honor of the harvest which they presented at the winery in celebration of the vintage. It was so well received that the Vintage Festival became an annual celebration and started the tradition where all guests write and recite poetry in honor of each harvest and family gathering that still takes place today.
Always seeking ways to celebrate the artisanship of winemakeing, Jeff’s father Jim decided to produce a limited bottling of the very best lots of estate grown Cabernet with a label designed by renowned artist Chuck House. Since that first bottling in 1981, each vintage now bears a unique art label and the Vintage Reserve Cabernet has become an iconic example ofGundlach Bundschu’s passion of expressing art through their distinctive wines.
And they’re still at it….Fast forward to current winery President Jeff Bundschu who last year in celebration of the winery’s 150th anniversary commissioned a play based on the life of 4th generation Towle Bundschu. Towle’s Hill toured 10 cities, including a visit to New Orleans' Le Chat Noir in the spring of 2008, and returned home to Sonoma to continue performances at the winery.
During that visit to New Orleans last year Jeff Bundshu and company were deeply move and inspired by the spirit of rebirth in the city, and found it especially alive with the music they heard on Frenchmen Street. At an afternoon lunch at Mr. B's on Royal Street an idea was born to begin a new series of art labels featuring the work of local artists from around the country to show their deepened appreciation of America's diverse local cultures.
In 2005 Mother Nature brought a wonderful vintage to the Gun Bun winery. She gave the Gulf Coast Hurricane Katrina. Realizing the next Vintage Reserve Cabernet release would be the year of Katrina they literally left their seats at Mr. B's to find a local artist whose work represents our traditions, characters and enduring culture. They found RK Rowell through an organization of Katrina artists. One thing led to another and Rudy’s piece, “Stompin’ Tchoupitoulas” graces the label of the 2005 Vintage Reserve and honors the endurance of the people and spirit of this great city.
Rudy is no stranger to Swirl. Last year during Jazz Fest, his work lit up our walls with vibrant, colorful paintings celebrating his very distinct vision of Southern culture. He is also a regular at the local art markets and you can see his work at vigoboom.com. We are excited to have him and some of his work back in the shop for an incredible night.
A letter from Jeff Bundschu arrived in the shop upon the release of the 1,100 case production of the 2005 bottling. The last paragraph sums up the winemaking philosophy at Gun Bun. "Our family's aim is not to simply make great wines. It is to make great wines that matter. It is about a connection to a place, and a connection to a community. We hope you will join us in celebrating the unique site that has produced this wine, as we celebrate you inimitable city with its label. We'd be honored to have a place at your table."
So please join Jeff Bundshu at our table on Tuesday, March 24 for a very special evening of art, wine and food as we taste his incredible line up of wines that will include the rare and excellent 2005 Vintage Reserve Cabernet. Rudy Rowell will be in shop signing bottles and showing some of his current pieces while Chef Michael Doyle of Dante’s Kitchen dishes out a sampling of wonderful tapas to pair with the wines. It is a night you won’t want to miss! Call 504.304.0635 for reservations.