‘The Story of Knapp Ranch’ comes to life in the Vail Valley | VailDaily.com

‘The Story of Knapp Ranch’ comes to life in the Vail Valley

Kim Fuller
Special to the Daily

Bud Knapp and his wife Betty on their ranch. Bud's book tells the story of their ranch and discusses their passion for environmental preservation.

Feelings of excitement and community camaraderie were tangible upon arrival to Colorado Mountain College in Edwards on Friday evening, Sept. 7. Just before the formal release of "Living Beneath the Colorado Peaks: The Story of Knapp Ranch," the pre-party was a true representation of the essence of the book. It's an impressive piece of publishing that Nicole Magistro, owner of The Bookworm of Edwards, referenced as "What is likely to be the most spectacle art and coffee table book of the year."

Magistro introduced Budd Knapp, Knapp Ranch owner and former publisher of Architectural Digest and Bon Appetit magazines.

"To me, he's an icon in publishing," she said. "He is a tastemaker in design, supporter of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship and of course, the environment and protecting our beautiful valley. Thank you for your leadership and I'm really excited to hear you talk about this book and the amazing process tonight. Thank you, Bud."

Slight melancholy

Knapp seemed most pleased to introduce the book's creative team: author Sarah Chase Shaw, photographer Todd Winslow Pierce and book designer Lisa McGuire.

The buzz of the project was laced with a slight melancholy, too, as Knapp took of a moment of emotional silence for his late wife Betsy, who passed away last year.

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"It was a very tough time for me," he said. "I had quite a bit of grief … and it wasn't easy. I got some help; hit a few speed bumps along the way. But here I am; so in a lot of funny ways, this is a coming out party. I was hibernating for about a year and a half, and now I'm out here, and as Jack Nicolson said, 'I'm back!'"

The crowed laughed and cheered, honoring Knapp, his contributions to the Vail Valley and his pure presence at the event. The soon-to-be-released book definitely shines through as a passion project, decorated with exquisite photography, renderings and words and showcasing how he and Betsy managed to create a place that lives and breathes history in the high country.

'About nature'

"We wanted to make this book not just about the Knapp family or the Knapp Ranch," said Knapp in a video presented on Friday. "It's really much more than that. It's really about nature, Mother Nature and the land itself. And as we built this place we always referred back to how this is really the legacy of the land. We want to honor the land, in particular the sustainability of the land, and how we try to enhance what we do on the land to make sure it exercises good stewardship of the land."

Knapp said the ranch evolution will continue to focus on sustainable ways of using the valley property.

"We're cautiously experimenting with agriculture, forestry, education, raising bees and a host of other small projects that we hope will blossom into businesses, either in a for profit or not-for-profit manner," he said. "And the money that we hope to raise that way will be used to create economical self-sustainability for the ranch. In the future, we commit ourselves to preserving the land without developing it in any way shape or form."

The hardcover book is 288 pages with over 200 photographs, and will become available beginning Tuesday, Sept. 11. Along with contributors Shaw and Pierce, Knapp will speak and sign books at 6 p.m. on Tuesday night at The Bookworm of Edwards. Limited seats are available — $10 includes the event and appetizers.