“It’s funny, I think that if you’re a wine geek and a wine collector, you have a kind of collector gene,” says Bobby Stuckey, proprietor of the forthcoming Denver wine bar Sunday Vinyl. “That mentality comes out with music, too. The people who love to seek out special wines also seek out special records.”
Stuckey and his team have been wanting to add a wine bar to their operations for a few years and even sent their culinary team around the world to explore similar places in Rome, Copenhagen, Paris, London and New York. But as it turned out, the winning idea was literally at home.
Every Sunday (his only day off), Stuckey and his wife Danette listen to an eclectic mix of records and pop open a bottle of wine. They chronicle the unique combos on Stuckey’s Instagram @bobbystuckyems. Recent weekend mashups include a Sancerre Blanc Chavignol by Domaine Bailly Reverdy (about $23) and Jorge Ben’s “Africa Brasil,” Mortellito Calaniuru Rosso (a bold Sicilian red at about $25) with punk rock band X’s “Los Angeles;” and Al Green’s “Call Me” with Chablis Grand Cru from Domaine Romaine Collet (about $65).
His Instagram music and wine combinations have garnered enough of a following that on a recent visit to New York, both the server and sommelier at the restaurant where Stuckey and his wife were dining recognized him and asked what they’d be playing and drinking on the coming Sunday. “I like a lot of random stuff,” he says. “Everything from jazz to Ethiopian music to funk…and the wines reflect the season, obviously the wines we drink in summer are lighter.”
In the hospitality world, Bobby Stuckey is more than just a household name, he’s a unicorn.
Stuckey began his now lustrous restaurant career in Arizona, where as a high school kid in need of a summer job, he worked at a Greek restaurant. Later, he moved to Aspen, Colorado to join the team at luxe hotel The Little Nell, where he stayed for five years. During his time there, the restaurant racked up award after award for wine and service before Stuckey made the move to Thomas Keller’s famed Napa restaurant The French Laundry in 2000. Just a year later, he won his first James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Service. It was there that he met business partner-to-be Lachlan Mackinnon Patterson, a culinary powerhouse in his own right. (Stuckey also married his wife of now nearly two decades the same year—Danette had a career in fashion before joining her husband to helm Frasca’s front of the house.)
Stuckey and Mackinnon Patterson connected over a love of the neighborhood eateries they enjoyed while traveling Italy’s Fruili Venezia Giulia region and opened Frasca (the picture above is the Frasca dining room) in 2004, the same year Stuckey became a Master Sommelier, officially putting Boulder, Colorado on the map as a gastronomic destination. In the fifteen years since it opened, it’s been nominated numerous times for the Beard in the categories of Outstanding Wine Program (it won in 2013) and Outstanding Restaurant before winning in 2019 for Outstanding Service (credit for which Stuckey shares with his team), among other accolades.
Never ones to rest on their laurels, the duo opened their own winery, Scarpetta, in 2006, making a line of the Northern Italian wines they loved so much as visitors in the very region they visited. The wines are available not only at Stuckey’s restaurants but in most states across the U.S., plus Canada and Mexico.
Next project: Pizzeria Locale, serving Neapolitan-style wood-fired pies, which opened in 2011. A fast-casual model in partnership with Colorado-born chain Chipotle, several Colorado outposts are still in operation, though a multi-state expansion proved fruitless.
Frasca’s more approachable sister restaurant, Tavernetta, opened in 2017 in Denver transportation hub Union Station, its walls lined with chic Slim Aarons photos and its menu lined with regional Italian dishes. Like Frasca, its hospitality is top-notch and its location in proximity to both the station and the Hotel Born make it an ideal meeting spot for visitors and locals alike, with no stuffy attitude.
Stuckey’s passion and energy in his field is obvious, his determination is relentless, and yet he maintains a calm, cordial demeanor always. Oh, and in his spare time, he’s an ultra-athlete: As of June 2019, he’s run more than 20 marathons, finishing his last race in 2 hours 57 minutes. He’s also an avid cyclist, riding for charity alongside the likes of Lance Armstrong in charity events (that’s on his Instagram, too). Still, he remains humble, saying “Running is more about staying sane in an industry that usually isn’t sane.”
Just as we may be wondering what’s left that Stuckey hasn’t yet done, enter Sunday Vinyl. The new venture will seat just 65 and offer views of the Union Station train platform, dim sexy lighting, and of course, music. Carlin Karr, who has been a sommelier at Frasca since 2012 and was recently named on “Wine Enthusiast’s” list of “40 Under 40,” will oversee Sunday Vinyl’s wine program along with Clara Klein, a somm at Tavernetta. The 1,500 wines will feature both Old and New World styles and varietals, all displayed on a wine wall. Guests will be able to explore more than 20 wines by the glass with small plates by chef de cuisine Charlie Brooks. As for the music, a local Denver company called Vinyl Me Please is being used to curate the records on rotation at the wine bar. Guests will be able to make requests and Stuckey will even suggest the playlist on Sundays, just like he does at home. (In fact, Vinyl Me Please has made an appearance on Stuckey’s recent Instagram record selections.) “There’s great inspiration that comes from wine and from music,” says Stuckey. “Every day we embrace hospitality as a way of life.”
Rebecca Treon is a Denver-based freelance food, travel, and lifestyles writer who has written for publications like 5280, DiningOut,American Bungalow, Reign, Denver Hotel, The Coastal Table, the Huffington Post, Tasting Table, Food 52, Time Out, BBC Travel, Livability, The Cape Cod Travel Guide, Edible Cape Cod,Edible Denver, Edible Lower Alabama, Alabama Journey, The Denver Post, and DRAFT magazine. She is the proud mother of two tiny globetrotters.