A BUONA NOTTE STORY
Buona Notte is very much a family endeavor. The team consists of my father and business partner, Jeff Markel. Emily Skawinski assists with the Marketing and Design; and my mother, Peggy Markel (if I don't add her she'll be mad). Last but not least, there’s myself, Winemaker, Graham Markel.
This project is the fruit of a life full of travel and exploration by the Markel Family. I was lucky enough to explore the world with my mother, father, and sister from an early age. At five I was eating kangaroo in Australia's McLaren Vale, and at ten I was already drinking Campari and soda in the Florentine Palazzo’s. (What?.. we didn’t realize it had alcohol).
From an early age I learned how to cook at my mother's Tuscan culinary school from some of the best chefs in Italy. At 21 I got my first cooking job at The Kitchen back in my hometown of Boulder, Colorado. I moved over to bartending after a year and began learning about wine and cocktails. This is where the idea of crafting my own beverages was sparked.
I graduated from Naropa University's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics and got a job at Antica Terra Winery in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. For seven years I worked under Antica Terra’s Maggie Harrison and Hiyu Wine Farm’s Master Sommelier, Nate Ready. I learned many things from those two, but the number one thing I learned was to think deeply about winemaking and how to add beauty to every step of the process. No matter how arduous or tiring, every action must be taken to make the best wine possible.
Living at Hiyu Wine Farm in Hood River opened my eyes to the many winemaking possibilities that there were on offer in the Gorge. There are so many microclimates creating different opportunities to explore fun, exciting varieties. Gewurztraminer from the bluffs on Underwood, Mencia from Mosier, and of course the Sangiovese from east of The Dalles resonated the most.
Many people say that if you squint hard enough, the rolling hills of The Dalles look somewhat like the hills of Chianti. It reminded me of some wild hybrid of the American West and Tuscany; two places near and dear to my heart. The opportunity was too excellent to pass up. It was time for me to make my wine.
Here in the snow-capped volcanoes, rolling hills, and big rivers of the Pacific Northwest, we have found gastronomic poetry. Oregon has a deep food and wine tradition, driven by the unique culinary culture of Portland and the world famous wines of the Willamette Valley. It’s the Buona Notte mission to add to that lineage.
I still love to cook, and I'm always looking to push the boundaries of creativity in the world of food and wine. It's been my pleasure to capture this time and place in the best bottle of wine I can make.
The Buona Notte team hopes our wines bring you as much joy as the journey to creating them has brought us.