Sigma Phi Epsilon - Colorado State University / Colorado Gamma

Joseph F. Phelps '51, Nov. 12, 1927 - Aug X, 2015

Joseph Phelps was born Nov. 12, 1927, in Maysville, Missouri.  His parents, Nita and Hensel Phelps, were farmers, but in 1936, in the midst of the Depression, they moved to Greeley, Colo., where Hensel Phelps started a construction company to support the family.

Joseph Phelps graduated from Colorado A & M in 1951 with a degree in construction management. While in college, Mr. Phelps met Barbara Ann Babcock, whom he would marry and have four children. Upon graduating he served three years as a Naval Officer in the Pacific during the Korean War.

In the 1950s and ‘60s he successfully expanded his fathers small local firm into a nationally prominent construction company. He took over the company in 1957 and served as president and general manager until 1975. In 1966 he establishing a branch office in the San Francisco Bay Area so he could pursue his interested in making wine and in 1973 he established the Joseph Phelps Vineyards.

In 1974 he decided to make a “proprietary blended” wine from the noble varieties, no one had ever blended quality varieties before. He named it Insignia and it the first of its kind, leading the way for such giants as Dominus, Rubicon and Napa valley's flagship blend, Opus One.  Mr. Phelps stepped down as the chairman of Phelps Vineyards in 2005.

Brother Phelps is survived by his son Bill, three daughters, Leslie Phelps, Laurie Anderson and Lynn Finch; eight grandchildren; and two great- grandchildren.