Tuesday, March 25, 2014

3/24-Michael Horn & Nicole Nielsen talk with David Hunt and David Duncan

David Hunt - Winemaker & Owner, Hunt Cellars
In Just a few years, Hunt Cellars has become one of the most highly acclaimed wineries in California, with numerous prestigious awards including: Many wines scoring in the high 90′s; multiple Best of Class, Platinum and Multi Gold Medals; “Cult” status. Many of our wines have received accolades from world famous wine critics, Dartmouth College, and wine writers. All of Hunt wines are handcrafted in very small lots, receive extended barrel aging and are sold primarily to our wine club and the finest restaurants across the country, including Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, The Ritz- Carlton, The Biltmore, Morton’s and more.
Our Story - It started over 20 years ago as a fantasy: living on a lush beautiful vineyard, producing your own style of favorite premium varietal wines that are well received and appreciated by those who have discovered the wines and shared them amongst friends. David Hunt, Winemaker and owner of Hunt Cellars, a winery committed to producing “Memorable Wines”. We believe that great wines leave indelible impressions when poured with wonderful meals and great friends and scintillating conversations. Hunt Cellars was founded on the philosophy of producing wines that you will look forward to simply sipping by a cozy fireplace or pairing with your favorite meals to enhance that special event or moment in time.
How It Began - When The Hunt Family decided to pursue their dream they were uncertain where they would choose to build their vineyard. The Hunts spent exhaustive days and weekends traveling to various premium wine regions from Oregon, Washington, and throughout the State of California. They finally narrowed their decision down to the Central coast to San Luis Obispo County. Paso Robles was selected because of its rich diversity in soils, superb growing climate and unique styles of wine making along with the spirit of graciousness and traditional American values. Eventually after looking at numerous parcels of vineyard potential property, they settled on uniquely beautiful property containing over 550 acres on Highway 41 in Creston. This unique property met their criteria in topography, soil composition and unparralled beauty. Within the 550 acres there are four terrior’s with varying elevations containing soil composites that mirror the great wine regions of the world. They were convinced that they could grow wonderful exciting intense fruit here on this property.
Destiny Hunt - The Hunt Family decided to name their vineyard, “Destiny Vineyards,” in honor of their new baby girl they named Destiny who was born in 1996. Just ask Destiny who has the best wines today and she will certainly tell you. Destiny Vineyard’s first planting consisted of: Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Syrah, Petite Syrah, Cab Franc, Viognier and Zinfandel. The Hunts decided to build a tasting room for their premium wines, which opened in October of 1999. In 1997 they began producing their first releases of memorable wines… Experience has taught Hunts that in order to make great wines you must simply have the best fruit. At Hunt Cellars, we believe passion, hard work and never giving up until we have put together all the components and structure that will give our wine the varietal character, flavor and velvet finish that will become a trademark of our wines.

NOTE: His Twomey Pinot Noir came in as runner up at the Pigs and Pinot event this weekend

Born in Durango, Colorado, David Duncan spent his teenage summers working on a farm and cattle ranch. His experience driving the swather and the baler and riding and roping cows imbued him with a respect for agriculture, a strong work ethic and a Western sensibility that is evident to  this day. David also grew up hearing and learning about wine, since his father, Ray Duncan, was co-owner with Justin Meyer of Silver Oak Cellars in California. David has fond memories of visiting Napa in the late 1970’s and 80’s while the Oakville winery was being developed and driving through the vineyards with Justin in his brown El Camino.
David always knew he wanted to work in the family business, and after graduating from University of Notre Dame with an English degree in 1988, he began his career at Denver-based Duncan Oil, Inc, his family’s oil and gas exploration business. He spent the next several years there, eventually going to night school to earn his MBA from the University of Denver in 1994. For his last four credit hours David built a financial model for Silver Oak Cellars.  The project was David’s first work experience with the winery, and from that point forward he was involved in the broader family business, including Silver Oak. In the 1990’s as he moved from Exploration Manager to President of Duncan Oil, David also consulted with his father on employee and strategic matters at Silver Oak. When the winery’s longtime general manager announced his retirement in 2002, Ray asked David if he wanted to move to Napa to run the family’s wine business. Although it  was an unexpected path – David’s wife Kary was serving as Assistant Chief of Medicine at the  University of Colorado – it took the couple less than 24 hours to say yes.

In addition to his duties at Silver Oak Cellars, David was instrumental in the development of the Duncan family’s brand, Twomey Cellars. Founded in 1999, Twomey was created with the idea of producing a Napa Valley Merlot with the depth and concentration that characterize Merlots of true distinction. With his entrepreneurial spirit and focus on winemaking excellence established at Silver Oak, David oversaw the acquisition of the Calistoga winery that houses Twomey Cellars Merlot, as well as the winery in Healdsburg where Twomey produces Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.
Today, David works closely with his father and his brother, Tim Duncan, adhering to the principle of continuous improvement and the high standards of quality that Justin and Ray established in the  beginning. He sets a straightforward, down to earth tone at the wineries, empowering his employees to work hard and always do their best. “We have a great history but we will never rest on our laurels,” he says. “We care deeply about what goes in the bottle, and strive to make each wine excellent.”
After a fire at the Oakville winery in 2006, David recognized a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Working with his family, winemaking team, and hospitality staff, David led the project to rebuild the winery, using his family’s 35 years of experience in the business to create a space ideally suited to producing Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and providing memorable hospitality for their visitors. The new winery opened in September of 2008.

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