25 years in the making…
Ron Bunnell caught the wine bug and enrolled at UC Davis where he received his M.S in viticulture in 1982. Enchanted by Napa Cabernet, he began working as Research Enologist for Charles Krug and then Beringer Vineyard before landing a position as assistant winemaker for Chateau Souverain in 1986. In the 1990’s Ron travelled the state of California, heading up the Syrah program for Kendall Jackson. Ron and Susan moved to Washington State in 1999, when Ron accepted the position as Head Red Winemaker for Chateau Ste. Michelle and Col Solare. In 2004 he took the leap and fulfilled a long held dream by starting the Bunnell Family Cellar.
Ron produces small lot wines that are arguably among the best Syrahs, Grenaches, Mourvèdres and Rhône-style red blends in the Pacific Northwest. Since 2004 his wines have received more than sixty scores of 90 or better from the Spectator and the Enthusiast. In 2009 the Bunnells introduced their “BDX” line of Bordeaux varietals and blends. The Cabernets are off to an amazing start with multiple Golds, Double Golds, and Platinums awards in their inaugural years. The winemaking style utilizes a very hands on approach: gently extractive fermentation, hand punch downs four times a day, and daily tasting, analysis, and evaluation. The traditional saignée method is customarily used to concentrate the skin to juice ratio of the fermenting must.
Susan Bunnell began cooking as a child and has worked in restaurants most of her adult life. She quickly rose to dining room manager of the highly acclaimed Restaurant at Chateau Souverain, where Ron and Susan first met. In 1991 Susan moved to Domaine Chandon as a Captain and Dining Room Manager. Today Susan is the proprietor of the Bunnell Family Tasting Room and Wine Bar, Wine o’Clock, an acclaimed wine country bistro in Prosser, Washington. Fine food, horticulture and visual arts are her passions. Bunnell Family’s Wine o’Clock is a superlative stop for wine and food, with a marvelous garden patio where you can dine while soaking up the Eastern Washington sun.
The rest is no secret; it takes great grapes to make great wine. Ron has long established relationships with many of the premier growers in Washington State, allowing him to source a wide range of varietals from multiple AVAs. Tasting and blending is complicated when you make more than two dozen different wines a year – but it’s always fun!
Today the family home and winery are located on the banks of the Yakima River overlooking the Horse Heaven Hills. The barrel chai is buried in the hillside to provide constant temperature for aging fine handmade wines. The children, Alex and Amelia, are still too young to be quite as much help as they think they are, but they love when the excitement of harvest starts each fall.
Ron, Susan, Paula, Amelia & Alex