N O RT H E R N C A L I F O R N I A’ S L A R G E S T N E W S PA P E R
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Photo by CRAIG LEE / The Chronicle
David Hunt says his memory of wines tasted in the past help him define his own winemaking style.
A man of taste
Keen sensory By Carol Emert
CHRONICLE STAFF WRITER
Listening to the timbre of
n a dark and chilly the tinkling liquid and feeling
meticulous Paso Robles ware- its weight, he pours in a little
blending help David house, with barrels Cabernet Franc, then a couple
stacked five high on of fingers of Cabernet
Hunt achieve his either side, David Hunt blends Sauvignon.
winemaking vision. barrel samples into a glass of "I think that's 10 percent
wine for a visitor. Cabernet Franc," Hunt says
Hunt feels his way, touch- with a mild Southern drawl,
ing the lip of a small sample and one sip confirms his sus-
bottle with his fingertips and picion.
maneuvering it over the rim of "I wanted 8 percent -- the
“I’m his seeing eye dog,” says Debbie Hunt, who assists husband
David Hunt with his winemaking and in running their 550-acre
ranch on the east side of Paso Robles near Creston.
Hunt’s music and wines hit high notes
final blend will probably be 8. But called Destiny Vineyards, should
you get the idea." The wine, the be up and running for this fall's
2001 Hunt Cellars Destiny crush.
Vineyards Paso Robles Ovation Hunt's fastidiousness has paid
Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, is off with an abundance of industry
delicious -- intensely fruity and honors that are impressive given
richly layered, with a solid tannic that he made his first wine just a
structure and a lasting finish. few years ago, in 1997 (using pur-
It's a noteworthy effort from a chased grapes), and the first har-
musician-turned-entrepreneur- vest from his estate vineyard was
turned- vintner who started his in 1999.
third career after taking just three In the 2004 San Francisco
extension classes in enology at Chronicle Wine Competition, his
UC Davis in the late 1990s. 2001 Paso Robles Starving Artist
The Cabernet Sauvignon is Barbera won a gold medal and
particularly impressive as just one best in class, while the 2000
of some 20 well-regarded Hunt Central Coast Rhapsody Meritage
Cellars wines, each one crafted by and 2001 Destiny Vineyards Paso
a man who must feel his way Robles Hilltop Syrah received sil-
around the winery because he vers.
cannot see. Hunt wines have made simi-
"You want to climb up the larly strong showings at other
barrels?" Hunt asks. "Don't worry, competitions and received 90-plus
I won't look up your dress." point ratings from publications
When articles are written about like Wine Enthusiast magazine.
Hunt -- and many have been over Photo by CRAIG LEE / The Chronicle In February, a Chatsworth
the years -- his blindness is Hunt Cellars wines have done well in judgings, the 2001 Barbera was neighbor organized a dinner
always the main theme. As a the best in its class at The Chronicle Competition in 2004. where Hunt Cellars wines were
winemaker, his sightlessness pro- tasted blind against cult wines by
vides an important advantage, he makers such as Harlan Estate,
says, by enhancing his senses of same varietal, vintage and block, from his hundreds of barrels, then Turley Wine Cellars and Araujo
taste and smell. and every barrel must end up full takes them home and mixes and Estate Wines. Debbie cooked
But Hunt has other distin- to avoid air exposure. blends every possible combina- elaborate dishes to match.
guishing characteristics, most This game of musical barrels tion. Many of the guests, two of
notably a hard- working, perfec- drives the EOS staff crazy. "There are about 50 moving whom were wine professionals,
tionist streak and an unconven- "We aren't set up to do things parts" to each wine, he says, and couldn't tell the difference
tional business sensibility that that way," says Melendez. "When he lies awake at night tasting them between Hunt's 2001 Moonlight
have generated great wealth for we hear David Hunt's on the in his mind. Sonata Santa Barbara
him and his family -- Debbie, his phone (calling in instructions), we His final blending decisions Chardonnay and the 2001 Peter
wife of 27 years, and three chil- all go 'Aaaargh.' " are made at the last minute; Hunt Michael Sonoma County Le
dren. once had to relabel a wine when Carriere Chardonnay it was paired
Hunt's exacting nature can A bent for blending the final proportions were differ- with, says Michael Cusumano, a
make him difficult to work with. ent than what had been printed on real estate investor who organized
"He's very nice, but very picky," Another quirk of Hunt's is his the label. the event.
says Leslie Melendez, senior compulsive blending. "Some winemakers decide At the end of the evening,
winemaker at EOS Estate Winery He spends about three days a their final blend a year in advance, there was no clear victor.
in Paso Robles, where Hunt rents week in Paso Robles, commuting but the wine changes every day," "I was amazed that a small
space and labor to make his wine. from his home in Chatsworth, he says. winery from Paso Robles could
"Actually, he's sort of a pain near Los Angeles, until his 17- To have more control over the go toe-to-toe with the big names
in the butt," says Melendez. year-old son Derek graduates winemaking process, Hunt is and be equally enjoyable with
While virtually all winemak- from high school. (The Hunts' building an 8, 000-square-foot everything we tasted," he says.
ers blend by the barrel -- 10 bar- other children are Christopher, 19, winery on his hilly, 550-acre
rels of this, three of that -- Hunt an enology student at UC Davis, spread in east Paso Robles near A musician first
blends by the gallon. and a daughter, Destiny, 7.) the town of Creston.
Then each partial barrel must With the help of Debbie or a The facility, which sits amid When I met Hunt a few weeks
be topped off with wine from the friend, Hunt retrieves samples the Hunts' 50-acre vineyard, ago at the Hunt Cellars tasting
room in west Paso Robles, he She finds her husband's hat lorette, but he pursued his music Sonoma County.
was enthusiastically playing a and cooks their winemaker din- in earnest, working day jobs to The deciding factor was a
shiny white grand piano and ners, with David tasting and pay the rent. Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon
loudly singing pop songs. offering suggestions on how the Despite his lack of a univer- made by Eberle Winery that
Hunt started his first band at recipes could better match his sity degree, Hunt talked himself wowed Hunt when he tasted it.
age 14 and dreamed of becoming wines. into a job as an admissions offi- "I came here to make
a professional songwriter. "I'm the seeing eye dog," cer at Brooks College in Long Cabernet," he says, adding that
Eventually he decided to "get says Debbie, a former model Beach, a women's school special- the climate is similar to Calistoga
realistic," he says, and make with a heart-shaped face and a izing in fashion design and mod- in Napa Valley.
some money. gentle manner. eling.
But many of his wines carry Like many blind people, "There were 500 women and
a nod to his musical career, with Hunt's other senses are quite three men on campus," says Decisions are his
monikers like Starlight Concerto, keen. He is good at directions Hunt, who found the job in the
Rhapsody in Red and Duet. and, whether driving or skiing, classifieds. "I wanted to work At the Hunt Cellars estate,
Hunt still writes songs for sometimes knows which way to there." which is adjacent to a horse farm
family occasions ("You're My go when sighted people get lost, He met Debbie when she owned by "Jeopardy" TV host
Princess" for Debbie's 40th birth- Debbie says. was an applicant to the modeling Alex Trebec, the soil is com-
day, for example) and he plays Most of Hunt's wines are program and they married five prised of white, mineral-rich silt
piano every evening after dinner. inspired by mental "benchmarks" years later, in 1977. and pebbles. A total of 50 acres
Hunt also performs at his that he can remember with great The '80s were good to the are planted to Cabernet
winemaker dinners. "I get the accuracy, thanks to a sensory Hunts. David Hunt made his first Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc,
guests nice and inebriated and memory that is rare, although not fortune by helping popularize Chardonnay, Syrah, Petite Sirah,
then I play the piano," he says. unheard of, among sighted peo- two key technologies -- voice Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese,
"Then they leave. Ha ha!" ple. mail and home security systems. Zinfandel, Merlot and Viognier.
Hard work is second nature "I taste some of the finest Hunt spent a year pounding Hunt makes the important
to Hunt. He started at age 6 in his wines in the world and I put them the pavement before he landed decisions in the vineyard as well
hometown of Lexington, N.C., in my memory bank," he says. his first voice mail account. He as in the winery. He tastes the
helping his father stack boards in Hunt's Merlot, for example, believes his deteriorating eye- grapes throughout the growing
a lumber mill. is inspired by a 1997 Beringer sight helped him see the potential season, telling his vineyard man-
"I worked hard as a kid, but I Howell Mountain Napa Valley for recorded phone messages, ager "to cut the water off or give
learned a lot," says Hunt, who Merlot he tasted a few years ago. and in fact voice mail has it more," he says.
was one of seven children born to "It was so dense and textured become pervasive in the United The harvesting decision is
a poor, Southern Baptist family. that the viscosity was almost States. fairly easy, he says. He asks
"I learned that the harder you clumpy," he says. "I remember Hunt's home-security busi- Debbie what color the seeds are,
work, the more you earn." smelling dark, concentrated fruit, ness started after he rigged and when they are brown and
At age 7, after riding his bike wild cherry and bing cherry. In together sensors and alarms to crunchy, it's time to pick.
off a road and down a gully, Hunt my wines, I look for structure protect his own recording equip- Hunt's best growing land is
was diagnosed with retinitis pig- like that, the concentration of the ment. on the property's highest hilltop,
mentosa, a gradual deterioration fruit and the complex nuances." He then persuaded tract a grassy mesa that enjoys a cool-
of the receptor cells of the retina. "The worst thing about being developers to equip their newly ing breeze from the Pacific
His father and both brothers blind," says Hunt, with great built homes with similar systems, Ocean 18 miles away.
are similarly afflicted, although emotion, "is inconveniencing selling hundreds at a time. The view from the top is
his case is the most serious. At other people. You can't find your Eventually the Hunts became beautiful, with layer upon layer
55, he finds himself surprised pants and you have to call some- developers themselves. of misty, rolling mountain ranges
and saddened at not being able to one. I deplore that. I deplore it." "That's really where we drifting toward both the eastern
see anything except for faint made our money," Hunt says, and western horizons.
traces of bright light. building offices, luxury homes Hunt intends to plant 50
"I honestly never believed The move West and tract housing in Southern acres of vines on the hilltop next
the good Lord would take all of California. year, which will boost his annual
my sight from me," he says. "I But one day in 1970, after Because of his waning eye- output to 25,000 to 30,000 cases
love nature. I loved seeing the two years of studying business sight, Hunt's development activi- from the current maximum of
trees." administration, a propitious letter ty has slowed and he sold the last 15,000.
Hunt had to stop driving at came in the mail: an invitation to of his tech companies in 1995. Then he'll stop planting,
age 32. He enjoyed his last clear appear on the TV show "The That's when he started look- although he has enough acreage
glimpses in the late 1980s. He Dating Game." ing for a location for Hunt to make 100,000 cases of wine.
refuses to use a cane, so outside Hunt packed up his MG, Cellars, his "retirement" venture. "I'm doing this to have fun --
of their home, Debbie, 48, leads drove to Hollywood and never He settled on Paso Robles after I don't need more work," he says.
him around by the arm and drives looked back. He failed to win a scouting sites in Virginia, Santa Putting their developer hats
him where he needs to go. date with the designated bache- Ynez Valley, Napa Valley and on, the Hunts intend to build a
small resort on the property -- a ness, getting the winery off the occurred when vineyard staff WINE
bed-and-breakfast hotel with
tennis courts and other ameni-
ground has been challenging. At
times they have wondered if
neglected 20 acres of newly
grafted vines. The grafts failed
And they'll construct a mas-
they made the right decision by
choosing wine as their retire-
and the Hunts had to start the
four- year process from graft to
sive home for themselves mod- ment pastime. harvest all over again. CELLARS
eled on their 13,000-square-foot The twin disadvantages of One of the most frustrating
Chatsworth residence, which David's blindness and living parts of the wine business has
as next Cult Winery
been dealing with distributors, at the Annual D.C.
says Hunt. International Wine and
Echoing the complaints of
many winery owners, Hunt says
distributors simply don't do a
good job selling wine, often
Gold is Discovered
requiring the winemaker to The most impressive new
accompany them on sales trips. winery was Hunt Cellars of Paso
Ninety percent of his sales Robles CA. Owner-president
are made through the club or and winemaker David Hunt may
tasting room. The Hunts are in have been a musician and inven-
escrow on a second tasting room tor before turning into winemak-
in Southern California, although ing, but obviously he has the
they won't reveal the location golden touch. (Even David’s
until the deal is done. lovely wife Deborah added to the
Because of distribution experience by demonstrating
problems, Hunt Cellars wines extensive knowledge and a
are not widely available at retail, refined palate.) Hunt Cellars red
but Hunt ships them within wines are huge and gorgeous.
California and to the 25 other David likes to think of them as
states that allow direct shipping. “in your face,” but clearly in a
He uses distributors in four addi- pleasant sort of way. None of the
has 29 rooms, including a ball- only part-time in Paso Robles tional states. Winecounsel writers who were
room with an orchestra pit. (The (it's a three-hour commute each In the Bay Area, Hunt lucky enough to taste them would
colonial-style home is depicted way to Chatsworth) have made Cellars wines are available in a disagree. Wine Enthusiast has
on Hunt Cellars labels.) it impossible to keep close tabs few stores including the Napa awarded 90+ points to earlier
The Paso Robles property is on the vineyard. Valley Winery Exchange, Hunt vintages, so certainly it was
large enough for each of the In 1999, the first estate har- Ashbury Market and Michael's not dumb luck that had Bob
Hunt offspring to one day build vest, Debbie noticed that birds Food Store in San Francisco; All Dierker (Director, VA Wine
a house there, says Hunt. were eating many of the grapes. Seasons Cafe in Calistoga; St. Institute) turning cartwheels.
Christopher is expected to help But the vineyard manager Helena Wine Merchants in St. Bob noted that Hunt is making
his father make wine after denied there was a problem. Helena; and Sonoma Wine Shop “quality wines rather than vanity
receiving his enology degree. At harvest, more than four- in Sonoma. wines,” so if he needs grapes
To date the Hunts have sunk fifths of the grapes had been Retail prices range from $23 from vineyards other than his
nearly $3 million into their wine eaten by starlings, says Hunt. for the 1999 California Serenade own, “he will find the right
venture and expect to be prof- There was a shortage of bird net- Syrah to $75 for the 2000 grapes to make the right wine.”
itable this year or next. That's ting in the area, so the manager Destiny Vineyards Paso Robles When is the last time you met a
well ahead of the industry aver- did nothing. Ovation Reserve Cabernet grower who said that, instead of
age, although they are not pay- "I got 7 tons, the birds got Sauvignon. using a Procrustean bed approach
ing themselves salaries and will 30," says Hunt. "Bad score." When asked whether they to produce an “estate” wine at the
be paying down debt for 25 In a second incident, Hunt regret starting a wine business, expense of taste? Rumor has it
more years. hired a man to remove some both David and Debbie Hunt that Dierker is going to try to get
Hunt Cellars revenues have weeds. "He said it wouldn't cost hesitate. David sighs deeply. It's that other lawyer Robert guy who
grown about 40 percent in each much, then I got a bill for been harder than they expected, is a wine Advocate, if you catch
of the last three years, although $30,000," says Hunt, who had they admit. our drift, to give David the credit
sales have been a struggle trusted the man and so did not "People don't cut me slack - that he is due. If so, Hunt
because of the ongoing wine insist on a contract. - they take advantage," says Cellars, with its limited produc-
glut and problems with distribu- "That's the kind of thing that Hunt. "But when there's not a tion, is likely to gain cult status.
tors. makes you say, 'Why am I doing level playing field, you've just Let’s hope Hunt Cellars gets dis-
Despite the Hunts' wealth this?' " says Hunt. got to be a better warrior. " tribution in this area before that
and solid background in busi- An even greater loss happens.
AUGUST 19-25, 2005
tage. Wine evaluation often includes judging
the color of the wine. But Hunt is blind.
He doesn't have any high-tech winemaking
equipment to compensate for his lack of
vision-at least not anything other winemakers
The hunt for medals pays long-term dividends for winemakers aren't naturally equipped with.
“I can taste color,” he said. “I mix wine by
David Hunt doesn't bother displaying his best of class in the premium division for sound and weight…Most people are lazy and
silver medals. cabernet wines at the Los Angeles County don't turn on the senses.”
"Who wants to be second place?" he said. Fair. Hunt is not lazy. He doesn't sit around pol-
Hunt, owner and winemaker of Hunt “I achieved a dream there,” he said. “That's ishing his medals. He's working on both his
Cellars in Paso Robles, enters seven or eight one of the granddaddy of all wine competi- wines and the winery's brand.
wine contests per year. Medals make great tions.” “The ante has been raised in Paso Robles,”
marketing because it means professional He picks the competitions that could add he said. “We have to crank up our image.”
judges have said his wines stand out. In the prestige to the winery's portfolio. He considers To make room for his medals and for the
crowded wine industry, separating, one brand whether the judges have been shown to have people who are discovering his wines, Hunt
from the rest is critical to survival, and Hunt's an appreciation for highend premium wines. will open a new 5,000 square-foot colonial-
medal count is just one way that Hunt Cellars Hunt Cellars is a relatively young winery. style tasting room on Oakdale Avenue, dou-
is developing a following. Its vineyard was first planted in 1996. Of bling the size of his current one. The winery
Every wine sold at Hunt Cellars has been a Hunt's 550 acres in Paso Robles, 62 are pro- also broke ground on a new storage facility
multi-gold medal winner or scored in the 90s, ducing grapes. this month.
Hunt said. He displays the gold medals in the Hunt searched many wine regions before Hunt Cellar wines will have new labels for
tasting room-and he's running out of room. choosing Paso Robles, and while he thinks the its next vintage, which will also reflect a colo-
Hunt said he spends at least $5,000 per area is becoming oversaturated with wineries, nial theme. The winery produces about 8,500
year on entry fees for wine contests, but the he said he made the right choice. cases per year, specializing in cabernets and
total cost jumps to $15,000 to $20,000 per “I go toe to toe with the most expensive zinfandels. The price per bottle ranges from
year when he factors in the wine itself. Napa wines almost all the time in these cult about $18 to $140.
“It's something you have to do,” he said. “It competitions and tastings,” he said. “We turn a “I got into this business to have fun, and
certainly gives you bragging rights.” lot of heads.” I've never worked so hard in my life,” Hunt
He particularly likes to brag about winning It would seem that Hunt is at a disadvan- said.
room at 2875 Oakdale Rd, Paso Robles, CA.
David Hunt is a man on a mission: he
puts his whole being into whatever task he
undertakes. He began as a musician turned
inventor and found success as a developer of
HUNT CELLARS: THE NEXT CULT WINERY real estate and high technology. David turned
his sights to wine-making as a retirement ven-
In the past few years Hunt Cellars has Harlan & Screaming Eagle wineries. In fact, ture and has poured himself into the task with
become one of the most highly acclaimed Hunt Cellars ’02 Syrah Hilltop Serande has heart and soul, refusing to let little things, like
wineries in California with hundreds of pres- been called the Screaming Eagle Syrah. his blindness get in the way. Just as
tigious awards. Hunt has brought in more Hunt Cellars vineyards and tasting room Beethoven wrote some of his greatest pieces
gold medals, scores in the 90+s, and best of occupy 550 acres in Paso Robles, CA where after he became deaf, critics claim that
class awards in just a few years than most dramatic temperature swings and varying soil David’s loss of sight has strengthened his
wineries earn in a lifetime! His first 3 types produce intense mountain grown fruits. other senses, especially taste.
Zinfandels and 2 Syrahs scored 90-92 and his Being a business entrepreneur David has seen His purpose is to create extraordinary
Barbera scored a 94. the buzz that his wines create and is diligent- wines, perfectly blended with a full-bodied
Hunt’s quality wines have famed critics ly working on ways to distribute his limited mouth feel and a sumptuous, lingering finish.
as well as members of the American Wine production boutique wines. Restaurants fea- His beautifully orchestrated collection of
Society pro-claiming Hunt Cellars as the next turing Hunt Cellars wines have included big wines, display his passion for music, featur-
“cult winery”. This contagious buzz has even names like the Commander’s Palace in New ing names like “Serenade”, “Rhapsody in
caught the attention of some students from Orleans, Blue Ginger in Boston, Ruth’s Chris Red” and “Starlight Concerto.”
one of the top ten business schools in the Steakhouses (across CA), Pacific Dining Car Recently featured in Business Week, The
world: the Amos Tuck School of Business at and Café Bezu in Santa Monica and many Wall Street Journal, Pacific Coast Business
Dartmouth, as a study project. The group was others. The legendary Hunt Cellars wines are Times and full-length feature in The San
drawn to Hunt Cellars because of its quality, sold primarily through their Wine Club Francisco Chronicle, Hunt Cellars has gained
which has been compared to the famed www.huntwinecellars.com or at the tasting much notice from the press and critics alike.
“I learned at a young age that a person’s greatest power is the power to choose.
If you don’t like the dream, change the dream.”
- David Hunt, winemaker
QUE SERA SERA: A LIFE AS RHAPSODY...
SWEET LIFE: What will be has 1970s as a starry-eyed musician another, sometimes forced by protect his equipment. He
been for vintner David Hunt, and wound up in the grapes of what he calls his "inconve- extended that security concept
who brings light to a world that success, even as his world view nience," sometimes due to his to homes. From there, he
is growing darker. became hopelessly stuck on a enterprise. became an early distributor of
dimmer switch. He recorded with the likes voice mail to offices and
But David Hunt has always of Ambrosia and Vanilla Fudge, brought innovative comfort con-
By Brett Johnson found a way to turn on the but his songs largely died on trols to homes; both were hits,
Staff writer lights again -- heaven found a the vine -- though he would and he plowed the profits into
The kid who used to bump way to do it just by walking later find more fruitful vines. real-estate. When he started to
into trees while trick-or-treating down the hall. His is the story While in the music business, become a stumblin'-bumblin'
came west to California in the of how one thing leads to he developed alarm systems to danger to himself at construc-
Suday, Sept. 2, 2001 LIFE
tion sites, he sold out. But he of his wines "Que syrah, syrah." Europe. into his endeavors and then
didn't forget the value of land Winemaking, he says, is But foremost, he misses the moving on when they dry up.
and location, especially when really "whatever hand Mother faces of his wife and three kids. "I learned at a young age
he searched for the place to Nature deals you." Then he says, "It would have that a person's greatest power is
build the perfect vineyard a few A different kind of genetics been worse to have never seen the power to choose," Hunt
years ago and found it in the dealt David Hunt a bad hand. them." In fact, he never saw the said. "If you don't like the
hot agricultural fields near Paso When a guest points out the face of his youngest, 4-year-old dream, change the dream. A lot
Robles. unique, pretty red color of the Destiny, adding, "from what I of what I've done in my life is a
All of which sort of leads us zinfandel, Hunt replies, hear, that’s very regretful." byproduct of my blindness."
to the bar at Hunt's massive, 29- "Wouldn’t know." Hunt can still distinguish
room Colonial mansion in the Hunt, 52, has lost his sight day from night, and some shad-
hills above the north end of to a degenerative eye condition ows. But he overshoots a couch Lighter years
Topanga Canyon Boulevard in called retinitis pigmentosa, not when he comes in for an inter-
Chatsworth. in one fell swoop but over 40- view, walks into a wall in Hunt was born near Eden,
Hunt is holding court on his some years. It's his” inconve- search of another room, runs N.C., and grew up in Lexington.
latest passion pursuit, wine. He nience," the thing that caused into a door in his own house. By age 7,problems were appar-
clutches his bottles like a moth- him to wander dangerously at His fingers clutch air until they ent. "I never could see at night,"
er holds her cubs. "Let me tell home sites. reach a guidepost -- a ledge, the he said. Hence his tasting bark
you the story behind this one," Slowly, he's been robbed of back of chair, an outstretched on Halloween. "I ran into trees,
he booms out through a thick simple things. He drove a car hand, the neck of a wine bottle. and the other kids didn't," he
smile. He is ebullient, charis- until 1982, played tennis until When he's out, he has to have said with a smile.
matic, someone who clearly 1988, lost the ability to read the someone take him to the bath- At age 13, a doctor told
delights in wine and conversa- next year. When he first planted room, open a car door -- he Hunt he would eventually go
tion -- not a bad pairing. his vineyard in 1996, he could doesn’t like how that inconve- blind.
One by one, they trot out of see the grapes and the rows; niences them. Retinitis pigmentosa refers
the cellar -- a chardonnay, a now he can't. Even last year, he His world vision becomes to a group of hereditary disor-
sangiovese, a zinfandel, a could discern the outline of his cloudier, murk." His life is any- ders affecting the retina. The
Sarah, then a blend of san- tasting room; that, too, is now thing but. To borrow from retina -- which functions much
giovese, merlot and pinot noir only a memory. Dylan Thomas, Hunt does rage, like the film in a camera --is a
that Hunt calls "Rhapsody in He misses nature's scenic rage against a different kind of delicate layer of cells at the
Red," and finally the sweetness wonders, historic buildings in dying light, pouring himself back of the eye that picks up
known as port. All are high
Hunt is like an orchestra
conductor, waving his wand at
the senses of taste and smell.
He points out the nuanced tropi-
cal aromas in his chardonnay,
the honeys and caramels in the
sangiovese, the traces of black-
berries, blueberries and other
fruits, the silky viscosity of his”
Rhapsody," and the butter-
scotch, raisin, chocolate, pep-
pery and smorgasbord of other
tastes in the various elixirs.
All the while, he discourses
on acid-to-sugar ratios in the
grapes, the burn-and-freeze
weather patterns that create fruit
intensity, how to grow root
stock and graft varietal grape
genetic strains onto it, how to
push carbohydrates up from the
soil to the vine -- and how he
battled the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms and lost CHILD DESTINY: David Hunt’s 4 year-old is the inspiration for his Destiny Vineyards.
over his proposal to name one Hunt has never seen Desinty; “from what I hear,” he says, “that’s very regretful.”
pictures and transmits them to age 60 -- and so do his two were used to answering South-style home in 1987 in a
the brain. The cells, called rods brothers. But none of his four machines and secretaries. But ritzy Chatsworth subdivision
and cones, generate tiny electri- sisters -- one of whom is mar- soon, Hunt's voice-mail applica- developed by the father of actor
cal impulses when light falls on ried to Los Angeles Dodgers tions caught on. In real estate, Val Kilmer.
them. The impulses are passed broadcasting legend Vin Scully he came up with a visual tour of "What we did (with home
on via long cell fibers called -- has it. properties accessible by a phone comfort controls) in the 1980s
optic nerves to the brain, which None of Hunt's three kids -- number and a code. is still the cat's meow today,"
puts together the picture in the Christopher, 16; Derek, 14; and "One of the secrets to suc- Hunt said. He sold that busi-
process called seeing. Destiny --shows signs of RP. cess is not only to recognize an ness in 1995, in part because of
Cone cells are found in the opportunity, but to seize the his difficulty walking around
retina's center and are used to opportunity," Hunt said. construction sites. By then, his
see color and detail in good ‘.... to seize the opportunity' In the 1980s, he also devel- curiosity had tilted toward the
lighting, as well as read this oped the "Smart House" con- wine industry.
story. Rod cells, located on the Hunt sang in a band in his cept – perhaps symbolized best Hunt scoured the three
retina's edges, are used in poor teens and, in his 20s, he came by his own home, customized to Pacific coast states looking for a
light, such as at dusk, and pick west to enhance his music accommodate his sight deficien- utopic site for a vineyard. He
up movement out of the corner career. His introduction to cies. chose the Paso Robles area
of the eye, alerting us to objects California was an appearance In his home, room tempera- because of its combination of
in our path or a passing car. on "The Dating Game." tures are controlled by touch good soils and ideal weather --
Each eye has about 120 million "The girl didn't pick me," he settings that allow any tempera- hot in the day, cool at night --
rod cells and 6 million cone said. ture to be punched in. Hallway for growing grapes that produce
cells. Hunt wrote songs and, and room lights come on as you high-end wines.
RP causes those cells to among other things, recorded walk in, controlled by sensor He bought 550 acres in
break down or deteriorate. RP with Ambrosia, which had some beams that throw light into acti- Creston and established a vine-
sufferers don't see well at night, light pop hits in the 1970s and vated zones. Using a keypad, yard in 1996. Destiny Vineyards
they stumble into objects or trip early 1980s. But the music busi- Hunt can punch in a code and is named after his young daugh-
over them, and often they have ness was tough: "There's many put water in a fountain. ter, who right before the wine-
"tunnel" vision. Some retain Elton Johns that have never Drawing the drapes can be done tasting skips into the room, tries
tunnel vision until late in life; been discovered, and it's hard to via keypad; likewise, Hunt has to climb Dad's leg and giggles
the speed of the vision loss hang your hat on something," his home stereo system pro- and smiles a lot -- birthrights of
varies from person to person Hunt said. grammed that way. any 4-year-old. She settles for a
and with the type of RP. Concern about stolen equip- "I can listen to Bach in one Diet Pepsi.
It is thought that RP is ment led to his alarm company room, Beethoven can be playing Hunt's wines, marketed
caused by mutations in several business in the 1970s. Hunt in another, and the kids can lis- under the name Hunt Cellars,
genes. About one in 80 people patented a telephone line pro- ten to Van Halen -- all simulta- have won numerous awards.
have the mutated genes, Hunt tection device. He moved on to neously," he said. He specializes in red wines.
said. Whether it gets passed on distributing voice mail systems Son Derek helps him blend
is basically luck of the draw. in the early 1980s. ‘Smart House' wines and wants to follow Dad
Hunt's grandfather and father At that time, voice mail was into the wine business; Hunt's
had it -- his dad could read until a tough sell because offices Hunt built his antebellum wife, Deborah, 44, also is up on
LIFE Suday, Sept. 2, 2001
the industry. Son Christopher, "Dom Perignon and me; it's n't practiced much lately and human genome mapping break-
already 6-foot-6 and playing pretty good company," he dead- can't sing anymore. But then he throughs on genetic codes with
basketball, is less interested in panned. adroitly plays an Elton John great interest.
the grapes. medley, including "Rocket For a moment, he laments
This year, Hunt plans to Enjoy life Man" and "Bennie and the the tasks others have to do for
grow and harvest 200 tons of Jets." His voice, though not in him.
grapes, which will translate to Hunt's goal is memorable the soothing ranges of Sarah "I'm a self-made man, so
about 10,000 to 12,000 cases of wines, ones where they, the McLachlan, would cop a few that's a big thing to swallow,"
wine. people in company, the conver- karaoke titles. he said. "Those who are handi-
"I want to make wine for sation and the place are all "It never leaves your blood," capped have to eat a lot of crow.
people who really appreciate remembered. "I want people to he said. I miss everything, absolutely
wine," Hunt said. "I see a trend have a good time, party and If the status quo prevails, everything. Driving a car --
toward good boutique, hand- have a hoot," he said. "Is that so David Hunt will go totally what a freedom!
crafted wines." wrong? I want to have fun." blind. He believes a cure for RP "But I'm blessed with a lot.
As such, it's a little more To that end, he tops off the exists, that he might regain his And if I can inspire people to
difficult to find the Hunt Cellars wine-tasting at the piano. He sight. He's involved in funding have a good attitude about their
brand. warms up, complaining he has- research, and is watching handicap or inconvenience, that
"These aren't the type of makes me feel good,too."
wines you find in stores," said
Gil Gordon, a Newbury Park-
based wine broker who handles DAVID
Hunt's wines. HUNT BIO
Locally, the Verona Trattoria Age: 52
restaurant in Camarillo and La
Cupola restaurant in Oak Park What: Winemaker, founder and
carry Hunt's wines, Gordon owner of Hunt Cellars and Destiny
said. Another way to get them is Vineyards, Creston. (The tasting
to call the vineyard and have room is in Paso Robles). Hunt lives
them shipped. in Chatsworth.
Central coast winemakers
who grow grapes near Hunt's Past Pursuits: Musician, owner of
place described him as sociable a home security-alarm business, a
but still relatively new to the voice mail system distributor/cre-
scene and a bit of an unknown ator, a "Smart Home" marketer,
quantity; some have never met and real estate developer. Though
him, others only in passing. he still dabbles in real estate and
"A blind winemaker? I see holds business-related patents,
no reason why not," said former wine is the focus.
state Assemblyman Brooks
Firestone, who has a winery in Family: Wife, Deborah, 44; sons
Santa Barbara County. "One's Christopher, 16, and Derek, 14;
senses are often enhanced in daughter Destiny, 4 (for whom the
that situation." vineyard is made).
It is said that people who
lose one sense often have better Favorite Wine: Hunt is a red wine
acuity in others because they specialist and connoisseur. When
rely on them more. Hunt pressed, he chooses a cabernet
believes that might factor into sauvignon, but it's only a slight
his wine success. He took sen- lean. "If the world was one wine, it
sory evaluation classes at the would be pretty boring.
University of California at Fortunately, the world has blessed
Davis, where he had to pick out us with hundreds of kinds of wine.
aromas such as eucalyptus, bell I like it all. I really do. I do every-
peppers, lemon and even sweat thing from washing the bottles to
in wine; he scored 100 percent. corking the wine to stomping the
Hunt believes he might be grapes."
only the second blind winemak-
Vol. 17 • No. 122 • FREE • www.aspentimes.com
Turning a blind eye to the art of winemaking
Naomi Havlen California, where he made his acre ranch in Steamboat Springs head of the house in the vine-
June 18, 2004 fortune helping to popularize that they bought in 1997, after yards, maybe with a rocking
voice mail and home security many years of trying to find the chair, and watching the grapes
Pay attention to how David systems in the 1980s. perfect riverfront property in the grow,” Debbie said. Rather,
Hunt pours a glass of wine this From there he began build- mountains. Their original idea Debbie and David’s journey has
weekend. ing offices, luxury homes and was to operate a high-end dude been filled with twists and
His left hand will weigh tract housing in Southern ranch in the West, Hunt said; he turns. Fortunately, the couple is
your glass so he doesn’t overfill California. As his eyesight con- and Debbie once had the Elk in it for an adventure.
it; his right hand will be just at tinued to deteriorate, winemak- Mountain Lodge in the Castle “Each year, Mother Nature
the mouth of the bottle, making ing became Hunt’s “retirement” Creek Valley in escrow before it deals you a new set of cards and
sure he doesn’t miss the glass venture. was bought with cash from you have to play the deck,”
altogether. After taking oenology cours- under their noses by an Aspen David said. “What was always
Hunt sees dark shadows and es at UC Davis, Hunt jumped local. mystical about the wine busi-
bright light, but has otherwise right in. Several of his 1997 Hunt is the sort of guy who ness was seeing elite, super-
lost his sight due to a gradual vintages were lauded nationally likes a challenge - an obvious educated people talking about a
deterioration of his retina. He and internationally, and the assertion, given that he’s chosen wine for hours at a time. It got
hasn’t driven a car since 1982, awards and recognition kept on winemaking as a relaxing retire- my attention to get into the
played tennis since 1988 or read coming. After 25 years of drink- ment activity. industry, and it’s an ever-chang-
since 1989. All the while, ing, Hunt said half-jokingly, he “You get this picture in your ing challenge.”
though, his passion for wine has had developed his palate to rec-
grown. ognize wines by the vineyard or
Before you taste Hunt the year.
Cellars’ wine at the Food & “I think I have the ability to
Wine Classic at Aspen, Hunt focus, and focus on exactly
will tell you about the delicate what I want to focus on,” he
nuances your nose is detecting said. “I probably do have a
in the bouquet, and then about more sensitive palate [than
the layers of flavors that are those with sight]. A lot of
about to trip across your tongue wineries make wine with sci-
before ending in a smooth, soft ence ... I balance to taste. The
finish. color of a wine means nothing
It is an experience Hunt has to me. I ask Debbie what color
perfected, gallon by gallon, at it is, and she says ‘red.’”
his Paso Robles, Calif., winery. Hunt Cellars has been an
Many winemakers blend their exhibitor at Food & Wine for
wine by the barrel - Hunt the last three years, and Debbie
blends wine by the gallon, as he and David are no strangers to
prides himself on a palate that Colorado. Until two years ago,
notices the tiniest variations in David would ski regularly,
flavor. including trips to Aspen to ski
Winemaking is a venture with guides from Blind Outdoor
that Hunt and his wife of 27 Leisure Development, now part
years, Debbie, delved into in of Challenge Aspen.
the late ‘90s. His first passion “I would wear this neon
was music - he wanted to orange vest that says ‘blind
become a professional song- skier’ on it in big, bold letters.
writer, and still writes music But somehow everyone on the
occasionally and plays the mountain would still crash into
piano frequently. The next me,” Hunt said with a laugh. “It
phase of Hunt’s life was moving worked like a magnet.”
from North Carolina to The Hunts also own a 57- David Hunt and his wife, Deborah, at their winery.
Aspen Daily News The Roaring Fork Valley’s only independent and locally owned newspaper
Printed on Recycled Paper VOL. 26 #354
FINE WINE BLIND yards never get a 90 in their
lifetime. I got four in a year.”
Might that have something
drainage here, and we have
sweetwater that’s wonderful
tasting. That all goes into it.”
By Michael Conniff his blindness when asking the to do with the temperature and The one thing that doesn’t
Aspen Daily News Critic-at- question: how do you do it? topography of “the next Napa”? go into it for Hunt Cellars is the
Large “Every wine has a unique “You’re right on the tune color of the wine, and not just
personality,” Hunt says. “You there,” David Hunt says. “There because David Hunt is blind.
David Hunt has a taste and capture the character of the are several components to make “The color means nothing to
a touch for California wine that grape and put up in the bottle. wines. Some of the best wines me,” he says. “Consumers mis-
brought him instant acclaim in The problem I have is every in the world are mountain construe color as part of flavor,
a picky-picky industry. Hunt wine is as good as the next. wines, hilltop wines. We’re and that’s not true. It’s the
may be legally blind, but that’s Every wine has just been gold, located in the foothills of cen- mouth feel, the viscosity, the
only a small part of his story. best of class, or in the 90’s.” tral California, and we have flavor character. You can almost
Hunt refers to industry tremendous coastal influence taste color with an inky palate-
David Hunt drove a car kudos from everyone from here with 50-degree swings in coasting feel. People tell me it’s
until 1982. He played tennis beautiful. I ask my wife and she
until 1988. With a little help, he tells it’s red.”
was able to keep sking right up David Hunt laughs at his
into last year. But chances are wife and his life.
he won’t ever stop making “The hardest part of wine
wine, sight unseen. making is the finish,” he
At the ripening age of 55, a explains. “When it’s gnarly and
victim of multiple eye condi- acidic, people don’t like it. A
tions, David Hunt of Destiny nice smooth silky seamless fin-
Vineyards LLC, the owner of ish – that’s the hardest part of
Hunt Cellars in Paso Robles, winemaking. That’s why I work
California, has to rely on every- each barrel to the day I bottle it.
thing except eyesight to pro- I can blend it, I can change bar-
duce his wines. rels, there’s a hundred things I
“I love the outdoors,” he can do. I do about a thousand
tells the Daily News. “I love barrels so it’s a job.”
Aspen. Not being able to see a The job includes opening a
tree or a beautiful lake is brand-new 8,000 foot produc-
painful. But there are alterna- tion center – the first time Hunt
tives for dealing with life.” Cellars has brought production
One of those alternatives, of completely inhouse. And the
course, is making wine in Paso vineyard is also opening anoth-
Robles, Calif., a part of the Left er tasting area in a part of
Coast that some are calling the southern California to be
next Napa Valley. Hunt may named later. The “hundreds of
have gone into wine to retire in Wine Enthusiast magazine to weather. That means the grapes awards” have been heartening,
1996, but it’s becoming “more the San Francisco Chronicle. can relax at night, and push dur- but kudos don’t explain why
work than anything I’ve ever “I got in business to make ing the day. Hardy red grapes David Hunt, the blind winemak-
done in my life. It’s 24 hours a great cabernets,” he says, “and need heat but the cool lets them er, is in the wine business.
day because I’m a perfectionist. my Zinfandels were a fluke – shut down and relax. That “I love to share my wine
It’s like having children. Every the first scored 90 points, the makes for a concentrated fruit with people who share a bottle
barrel has a life. Every bottle second one 92 points, the third in small berries. If you have the of wine,” David Hunt says. “My
has a life.” one 93. And 90 is a world-class heat they get brilliantly bright goal is to make a profit, my
One can’t help but think of for Wine Enthusiast. Most vine- and sweet. We have great goal is to have fun.”
S T E A M B O AT
WWW.THETRIBUNENEWS.COM S A N L U I S O B I S P O C O U N T Y, C A L I F O R N I A FRIDAY, MAY 6, 2005
AUGUST 6, 2005 Winning Wines:
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
VOL. 17, NO. 186 Dartmouth College, Hunt Cellars team up
Hunt Cellars is currently being studied by students at the Amos Tuck School of
Business at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., as part of a Tuck Leadership Forum
Final toast for project. Leela Damm, one of six members in the student group, met winemaker David
Hunt at the Boston Wine Expo in January. She convinced her team partners to select
wine festival “We really wanted to work with David because his wines seem like one of Paso
Robles’ best kept secrets,” said Damm.
Part-time resident and Damm and her classmates will analyze Hunt Cellars’ current marketing and posi-
winemaker will pour his tioning as compared to other cult vineyards like Screaming Eagle and Harlan. The
creations Dartmouth students will present their findings, and make strategic and tactical rec-
ommendations for advancing the business at the conclusion of their project in June.
Autumn Phillips, Pilot & Today Staff
Steamboat Wine Festival’s three days of wine
and food tasting end today with a Grand Tasting
of more than 500 wines.
The McGraw Hill Companies
This is the second year for the festival that
organizer Team Sage Productions hopes will
grow into a national-caliber event. One of the
winemakers in town this weekend to help ensure
that happens is David Hunt, owner of
California’s Hunt Cellars.
Hunt lives part time in Steamboat Springs and
Personal Buiness Footnotes May 9, 2005
part time in Paso Robles, Calif. Sharing his
wines with Steamboat is his way of bringing his
two lives together.
Hunt led a Winemaker’s Dinner at Move Over, Portugal
Cottonwood Grill on Thursday night and will be
serving wine today at the Grand Tasting. PORT, AS MOST OF US KNOW IT, is a sweet wine blend for-
Hunt became a winemaker as a retirement tified with brandy that goes well with dessert and cigars. But
pastime. some small California vintners are refining the art of port-
“I’ve never worked harder in my life,” he said. making by creating cabernet sauvignon, syrah, zinfandel, and
Many people credit Hunt’s enhanced palette other varietal ports. With 4% to 8% residual sugar, the single-
for wines to his blindness.
grape ports are far less sweet than the syrupy Portuguese ver-
“Maybe it’s true,” he said. “The good Lord
gave me a gift.” sions, with 12% or more. That lets the distinctive fruit flavors
Hunt will be pouring chardonnays and caber- shine through, making the new ports suitable to serve with
nets at today’s Grand Tasting, but wine lovers in many foods. Napa’s St. Barthélemy Cellars
the know will want to visit his table for a taste of (www.stbartwine.com), a varietal port specialist, is about to
his new cult wine called Screaming Eagle introduce its first pinot noir port ($20), which is lighter bod-
Shirah. ied and a bit sweeter than its other varieties. For rich caramel
“This wine has taken on a life of its own,” he
and walnut tones, try the $45 Zinful Delight zinfandel port
Hunt Cellars only produced 350 cases of the from HUNT CELLARS in Paso Robles in central California
wine. He brought four bottles of it to Steamboat. (huntcellars.com). Croze vineyards of Yountville in the Napa
A bottle costs $140 and rapidly is increasing in Valley (croze-cab.com) fortifies its cabernet port with top-
value, making it attractive to collectors. notch aged cognac instead of run-of-the-mill brandy to
This is Hunt’s second year pouring at the enhance the grape’s dense blackberry notes ($20). All the
Steamboat Wine Festival. ports are available online or from distributors in select states.
“I want to support this festival,” he said.
self, marketing would not be a July, but at 5 p.m. (the breeze blows
problem. His passion is contagious. in from the ocean and) it's like
"Doesn't it leap out of the glass somebody opened the refrigerator
at you?" he exclaims upon pouring door."
a guest a sample of his 2001 Paso When the temperature drops
Robles Zinfandel Reserve from his into the 50s overnight, the plants'
Outlaw Ridge vineyard. metabolism shuts down, and they
It's the startling bouquet of the "sleep hard."
wine he is describing. But upon However, Hunt treats his
first sip, the wine offers a subtle grapevines the way a stern NFL
VOLUME 119, NUMBER 4 • STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, COLORADO fennel taste (similar to licorice) and coach treats his players during
ripe blackberry flavors that reveal training camp. He grows them in
themselves in layers as the wine soil that is challenging.
slides down the tongue. "Fertile soil doesn't make good
A zinfandel was Hunt's first big wine," Hunt said. "It makes big
success. In his first year of produc- happy grapes. I want my grapes to
tion in 1998, with a wine made with be no bigger than the end of my lit-
someone else's grapes, he won tle finger. You want to stress these
prizes at an annual convention of grapes out. You want to give it and
zinfandel aficionados in San take it away. They need to be
Francisco and scored a 90-point rat- pushed, they need to be stressed.
ing from "Wine Enthusiast" maga- It's the opposite of what you think"
zine. In succeeding years, his zin- The result of stressing the
fandels' rating went up by several grapes is to concentrate flavor in
points, and in 2001 the wine earned the fruit. When he harvests them,
Tom Ross Hunt said. multiple gold medals, including they are so dense they are almost
PILOT & TODAY STAFF Hunt has succeeded in making one from the prestigious wine com- sticky with sugar. But Hunt is care-
memorable wines, consistently petition at the Los Angeles County ful to manage the amount of sugar
Is the production of fine wines a winning prizes for each successive Fair. in each variety to achieve the right
business or a compulsion? It's a fair year's production. However, he has Ironically, Hunt did not set out amount of alcohol. Too much alco-
question. In the case of David Hunt, learned from experience that mere- to make zinfandels, but instead had hol overwhelms the complex layers
the answer is "both." But there are ly making great wines isn't enough his heart set on making world-class of flavor.
times when his unwillingness to to establish a successful wine label. cabernets and merlots. Now, he Hunt randomly tastes grapes as
compromise on the qualities that A veteran businessman who moved makes all of those and more. harvest season approaches, and
distinguish cabernets, zinfandels from North Carolina to Southern Hunt is meticulous in his wine- consults with his wife, Debbie,
and syrahs from one another bor- California to make a fortune in making, but carefully avoids pre- about the telltale color of the seeds.
ders on the obsessive. sales of home security systems, tentiousness. He insists the magic in wine
"I'm a nut for varietal character," voice mail systems and later in real I'm not a wine snob," he said. "I production takes place in the vine-
Hunt said. "You smell it, it's a zin- estate development, Hunt says the don't like wine geekiness." yard, but he adds his own magic in
fandel. You taste it, it's a zinfandel." most difficult part of the wine busi- Still, he agrees his perfectionism the blending of wines from differ-
Hunt is the president of Hunt ness is the marketing. adds up to an obsession with ent oak barrels to achieve his goals.
Cellars in Paso Robles in the South His wines are not placed with a details. He ages his wines in oak Halting the conversation for a
Central California coastal region. distributor, and a significant portion barrels that can cost as much as moment, Hunt asks a guest to pour
He was in Steamboat Springs this of his annual sales are produced at $850. He calculates the barrels him another glass of wine.
week for the Steamboat Wine tasting rooms and from his monthly alone can add more than $2.50 in Suddenly he says, "Oh, oh, not too
Festival '04 and stayed in the home wine club. cost to each bottle they yield. For much. Don't pour above the crown
he and his wife, Debbie, own on 57 "I used to think that if I made a the most part, he always starts with of the glass. It's designed to act like
acres about 10 miles south of town. great wine, they would chase me to new barrels and often pairs French a chimney," delivering the bouquet
Too many winemakers, in the ends of the earth," he said with oak barrelheads with North of the wine to the nose of the
Hunt's opinion, allow the distinc- a wry smile. That has not been the American oak in the staves, all to drinker.
tions between the wines made from case. And wine-making is clearly a achieve more layers in the taste of All of this is mildly astounding,
distinct varieties of grapes to be labor of love. He expects to open the ultimate product. because Hunt cannot see the wine
blurred. He has tried since begin- his own wine-making plant in the He experiments with planting glass his guest is pouring the deep
ning his winery to sample great midst of his 585-acre property later varieties of grapes in different red syrah into.
wines, store their complex flavors this year. And he expects to operate microclimates within his vineyards. A degenerative condition in his
in his mind as a sort of benchmark, at a profit next year, but acknowl- The climate, 18 miles inland from retinas has left him blind and savor-
and then live up to their flavor pro- edges it will be many years before Morro Bay, on the hilltops outside ing the world and his wine through
files with his own wines. his initial investment of more than Paso Robles, is ideal. other senses.
"If something rocks my boat, I $3 million is recouped. "Here, the heat builds slowly all "Music, wine and food -- what
commit it to my wine memory," If Hunt were able to clone him- day, and it can reach 91 degrees in else is there?" he asks.
THE NEXT CULT WINERY:
— September 2005
In the past few years Hunt Cellars has greatest pieces after he because deaf, critics Business Times and
become one of the most highly acclaimed claim that David’s loss of sight has strength- a full-length feature
wineries in California with hundreds of pres- ened his other senses, especially taste. in The San Francisco
tigious awards. Hunt as brought in more His purpose is to create extraordinary Chronicle, Hunt
gold medals, scores in the 90+s, and best of wines, perfectly blended with a full-bodies Cellars has
class awards in just a few years than most mouth feel and a sumptuous, lingering fin- gained much
wineries earn in a lifetime! His first 3 ish. His beautifully orchestrated collection notice from
Zinfandels and 2 Syrahs scored 90-92 and of wines display his passion for music, fea- the press and
his Barbera scored a 94. turing names like, “Serenade,” “Rhapsody in c r i t i c s
Hunt’s quality wines have famed critics Red,” and “Starlight Concerto.” alike.
as well as members of the American Wine Recently featured in Business Week,
Society proclaiming Hunt Cellars as the next The Wall Street Journal, Pacific Coast
“cult winery.” This contagious buzz has
even caught the attention of some students
“The Screaming Eagle of Syrah”
from one of the top ten business schools in
the world: the Amos Tuck School of “WOW, this Syrah is bigger than any Cab at the Show, I see
Business at Dartmouth, as a study project. why it’s the buzz of the Aspen Food and Wine.” (Tom D., Vail)
The group was drawn th Hunt Cellars
because of the quality, which has been com- “I have had the best Syrah’s in the world and I have never
pared to the famed Harian & Screaming experienced a Syrah like this, amazing.”
Eagle Hilltop wineries. In fact, Hunt
Cellars’ ‘02 Syrah Hilltop Scrande has been “WOW, that’s amazing, I think I have gone to heaven.”
called the Screaming Eagle Syrah. (Dan H., Denver)
Hunt Cellars vineyards and tasting room
occupy 550 acres in Paso Robles, CA, where This very limited production Syrah is available to our Hunt Club
dramatic temperature swings and varying Members and Selected Restaurants.
soil types produce intense mountain grown (Ruth’s Chris & others)
fruits. Being a business entrepreneur, David
This is a one of a kind Syrah that must be experienced to
has seen the buzz that his wines create and is comprehend its viscosity, depth and structure.
diligently working on ways to distribute his (David Hunt, Winemaker)
limited production boutique wines.
Restaurants featuring Hunt Cellars wines
has included big names like the
Commanders Palace in New Orleans, Blue The McGraw Hill Companies July, 2005
Ginger in Boston, Ruth’s Steakhouses
(across CA), Pacific Dining Car and Café
Bezu in Santa Monica and many others. The
legendary Hunt Cellars wines are sold pri-
marily though their Wine Club, www.hunt-
cellars.com, or at the tasting room at 2875
Oakdale Road, Paso Robles, CA.
David Hunt ia a man on a mission; he
Leela Damm: Looking Back and Looking Ahead
puts his whole being into whatever task he At the close of her first year at Dartmouth’s Tuck, this student shares
undertakes. He began as a musician turned some happy memories and her expectations for year two…
inventor and found success as a developer of
real estate and high technology. David SELLING TUCK. It turned out to be one of my most rewarding experiences of the year.
turned his sights to winemaking as a retire- My team wound up working with a boutique vineyard in Paso Robles, Calif., by the
ment venture and has poured himself into name of Hunt Cellars. The company is run by talented and charismatic winemaker
the task with heart and soul, refusing to let David Hunt, who just happens to be legally blind. The story of how we connected with
little things, like his blindness, get in the our client is too convoluted to tell right here, but through TLF I had the chance to work
way. Just as Beethoven wrote some of his with an incredible team of people who all share my love of great wine.
VOL. 13 NO. 48 TELLURIDE, COLORADO FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2005
— Telluride Wine Festival —
Hunt catches spirit of wine in glass & life
By Elizabeth Heerwagen neighbor to Telluride, as far as his philoso- Hunt continues to “have a lot of fun, with
phy goes, Hunt shares a Carpe Diem atti- lots of gratification and surprises when the
When tipping back your glass at the tude. wine exceeds his original expectations.”
Telluride Wine Festival’s Grand Tasting on “My philosophy in life has always been When working on the 2000 “Rhapsody”
Friday evening, David Hunt, owner and that if you don’t like your dream in life then Sangiovese, a wine that pairs well with spicy
operator of the Hunt Wine Cellars will not change your dreams,” said Hunt, an ex-musi- Mexican or Asian food, Hunt admits that he
only pour his award-winning reds and cian turned winemaker. almost didn’t make the wine at all.
whites, but offer a personal taste of his pas- With 50,000 vines on the property, the “I couldn’t sleep the night before, then,
sion for the process of making wine and the Hunt Wine Cellars is a small production of just two hour before finalizing the win, I
end result. finely-tuned wines. With a wide range of made an adjustment and added 80 gallons of
For Hunt, wine and its many idiosyn- wines, all of the Hunt Cellars wines all share cabernet,” said Hunt. As a result, the 2000
crasies carve a niche close to his heart. in their musical names from the 2001 “Rhapsody” Sangiovese won the best in
“It’s like having children for me, each “Moonlight Sonata” Chardonnay to the 1999 class at the California State Fair as well as
wine is a different child and all of my wines “Rhapsody” Meritage. multiple gold medal awards.
have their own personalities. So, when peo- Now 56 years old, Hunt was able to Along with the “Rhapsody” Sangiovese,
ple ask me what my favorite wine is, I can’t drive a car up until 1982, read until 1988 and Hunt will also be pouring three of his caber-
do it because it’s like picking my favorite skied until 2001, but must now rely com- net sauvignons, two zinfandels, a chardon-
child,” said Hunt. pletely on his other non-visual senses. nay, the Barbara “Hilltop Serenade” which
Coming to his second Telluride Wine Finding a balance between the bouquet, won 94 points at the California State Fair,
Festival, Hunt brings the bottled products of the taste and the finish of each of his wines, seven gold medal awards, and four best of
his 550-acre vineyard in Paso Robles, Calif. Hunt believes that the finish is the most class awards, and finally the 2001 “Hilltop
Bringing a selection of reds, whites and port important aspect of any wine as it lingers on Serenade” syrah with four gold medal
wines, Hunt looks to nature for the recipes of your palate and makes you come back for awards, two best of class awards and named
his award-winning wines. more. “the screaming eagle of syrah,” all at this
However, Hunt cannot actually look to “I don’t like to brag, but I do believe that weekend’s Telluride Wine Festival events.
his vineyard or visually study his grapes due my taste has gotten stronger. I can taste The Hunt Wine Cellars will be part of
to the gradual deterioration of his retina that color, I can taste viscosity, I can taste bal- four different tastings including the Grand
has left him blind in both eyes. ance, and I can taste if a wine has a real dark Tasting on Friday at 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. and the
Despite losing his vision, Hunt contin- or light personality,” said Hunt. Toast of Telluride on Saturday.
ues to make his life fruitful at the Hunt Wine Maintaining an extremely down-to-earth While a lot of wine owners send repre-
Cellars. manner, Hunt spends his days dealing with sentatives, Hunt along with his wife Debbie
“I got into it to retire, thinking it would every part of the winemaking process, and his three children go on the road to as
be bucolic kind of life, but I’ve never worked excluding the crushing of the grapes. many events as possible.
so hard in my life,” Hunt said. “Wine was Managing every barrel as it comes out, Hunt “It’s hard when the kids are in school
supposed to be the years of bliss, but turned strives to keep the quality consistently high. and we can only do so many wine shows, but
out to be the years of work.” Producing 8,500 cases a year, the Hunt we love the Colorado loop”, said Hunt’s
After planting the vineyard in 1996-97 Wine Cellar depends on between 12 and 50 wife, Debbie.
and opening the Hunt Cellars Tasting Room workers a day depending on the season. “the Just picked as the “next cult winery” by
in 1999, the winery now produces over 20 most challenging thing is good personnel,” Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of
different wines from intense-flavored fruit said Hunt of the hard-working process of Business, Hunt Cellars is not only an up-
grown on the hilltops overlooking the San making wine. and-coming label in the wine industry, but
Luis Obispo Valley. While his bucolic retirement as a wine- maintains a down-to-earth personality in
While geographically Hunt is distant maker is not what he originally intended, both its wine and owner.
By SUSAN BAILEY
Wood River Journal
The finish, “that’s where a
lot of wines fall apart,” said
winemaker David Hunt, owner
of Hunt Cellars in Paso Robles,
Calif., a participant in the Sun
Valley Wine Auction for the
third year, and a man with
His vision in business is
ironic, because Hunt is a blind
First, he had a vision of
making a better vintage. Since
wine with a bad finish causes
the drinker to cringe at the last
swallow, Hunt vowed to polish
his wines to an even smooth-
ness. Claiming his loss of sight
has intensified his taste and
smell, Hunt worked for fine
bouquet and glorious taste in
every bottle. Seven years in the
business have brought him some
of the highest accolades in the
winemaking industry, including
compliments on the finish.
In 2002, the Wine Enthusiast
scored three of Hunt’s wines in
the 90’s, an honor not achieved
by most wineries. Hunt Cellars
found its 1999 Reserve
Zinfandel reached 91 90 points.
The Petite Sirah was also cho-
sen as one of the top wines of
Recently, at the Washington,
D.C. Wine Expo, so many Hunt
Cellar wines were selected as
“Best of Show” that renowned
wine critics including Robert
Dierker declared Hunt Cellars as
the next cult winery.
Hunt laughed with pleasure
at the title.
“It’s the balance and flavor
of the wine that makes the prod- project. He selected Paso Robles Hunt, who owned high-tech- taste to create something that
uct,” Hunt told the Wood River for its diverse soil and excellent nology companies in California, makes people smile. He calls
Journal. “About 90 percent of growing climate with dramatic envisioned a future surrounded his expanded senses a gift stim-
wines today are not balanced. 50 degree swings of temperature by sunny fields and bucolic ulated by necessity.
I’m one of the lucky few who is during the growing season, and lifestyle as owner of a vineyard. “I believe everybody has five
willing to take the time and cre- purchased 550 hilltop and “Well, it’s the hardest work major sensors,” said Hunt.
ate balance. The hardest part of mountain acres to establish his I’ve ever done,” he said. Also, “Mostly, they are lazy and they
winemaking is the finish and first vineyard. the work at a winery never ends. just don’t turn them on unless
that’s what I focus on.” “When I planted the vine- “I wish Mother Nature would they have to.”
Born with a rare degenera-
tive disease called retinitis pig-
mentosa, Hunt, in his late forties
found his sense of sight failing
him altogether. He has been
gradually losing his eyesight
since he was seven years old and
recently had to admit he was
totally blind. As a winemaker
this has only helped him.
“I don’t need to see the color
of the wine when I can taste the
subtle nuances that define the
wine,” said Hunt. “God takes
away one gift and gives two
more, in my case scent and
Hunt believes wine leaves an
indelible mark on the memory,
outlasting the impression left by
good food and great music. “If
the music is fabulous, the food
is great and the wine is spectac-
ular, you’ll remember the wine,”
A musician during his earlier
years, Hunt names his wines for
“That was my first, deepest
passion, but I never made it,”
“I’m a failure as a musician
but I’m using my skill because
music and wine really go togeth-
At Sun Valley Wine Auction
events, Hunt will be featuring
1999 “Zinphony #2 Zinfandel,
2000 “Old Vine” Zinfandel,
1999 “Serenade” Syrah, 2000
“Rhapsody” Sangiovese, 2000
“Bon Vivant” Cabernet, 1997
“Rhapsody in Red” Library
Release, 2000 “Starlight
Concerto” Sauvignon Blanc,
1997 Petite Syrah, and 2002
“Cab Ovation” Reserve
Hunt takes the time because yards, I could see the grapes,” take a year off and let me catch Cabernet.
he is obsessed and because his said Hunt. “Now I only notice up, but no. I’m always worry- “Music is in my blood, wine
loss of vision offers him few the difference between day and ing.” is in my blood, and having fun,”
other pastimes. Initially, Hunt night. Hey, you have to be a Still, he loves calling upon said Hunt. In my profession, I
opened a winery as a retirement better warrior, that’s all.” his sense of smell and sense of can marry all my passions.”
VOL. 31-A, NO.60 • WWW.SUNVALLEYCENTRAL.COM
Express AND GUIDE
Vintner has unique perspective on wine
By DANA DUGAN Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Syrah, percent of wines today are not fault is, where it lies and how to
Express Staff Writer
Petite Sirah, Cabernet Franc, balanced. I’m one of the lucky fix it. God takes away one gift
Primitivo Zinfandel, and a test few who is willing to take the and gives two more –in my case
Here’s a guy who, after two block of Viognier. time, focus and know what the scent and taste.”
other careers-as a musician and In the 2004 San Francisco
an entrepreneur-decided to plant Chronicle Wine Competition,
a lot of vines and become a Hunt’s 2001 Paso Robles
winemaker. Well, for David Starving Artist Barbera won a
Hunt the stretch was more that gold medal and best in class,
most can fathom. First of all, while the 2000 Central Coast
he’s blind, and, second of all, he Rhapsody Meritage and 2001
had no working experience in Destiny Vineyards Paso Robles
the field. But frankly, his sight- Hilltop Syrah received silvers.
lessness doesn’t hinder his suc- As well, Hunt Cellars
cess as a winemaker. His blind- Sangiovese 2000, won the Silver
ness, the result of a degenerative Medal and Best of Class at the
disease, may have robbed him of California State Fair Wine
the view of his gorgeous vine- Competition in 2003.
yards in Paso Robles, Calif., but Hunt’s wines have made
it has more than enabled him in similarly strong showings at
the smell and taste department. other competitions and received
Hunt was actually ahead of 90 plus point ratings from publi-
the game in a way, when he pro- cations like Wine Enthusiast
duced his first wines in 1996. magazine.
But by 1997 he was winning For the Wine Auction’s
awards. The parade has never Silent Auction on Saturday, July
stopped for the tireless Hunt, his 24, Hunt Cellars donated a full
wife Debbie and their three chil- case of Gold Medal and Best of
dren. Class wines from recent vin-
Hunt Cellars, one of the fea- tages, including 2001 Barbera,
tured wines this weekend at the 1997 Syrah, 2001 “Hilltop”
Sun Valley Center Wine Syrah, 2000 Reserve Sangiovese
Auction, encompasses 550 acres and 2001 “Outlaw Ridge”
of rolling hills and 50-mile Reserve Zinfandel.
views in every direction. The Hunt has said he wants to
vineyard property has extreme make big wines with great fruit
variations in its terrain and soil in the middle and velvet finish-
types, creating more than four es.
distinct microclimates within “It’s in the balance and fla-
the acreage. It currently has 50 vor of the wine that makes the
acres planted to Cabernet product,“ Hunt said, “About 90
Volume 9 Number 37 Tuesday, June 21 - Thursday, June 23, 2005 telluridewatch.com
Hunt Cellars, the Next “Cult Winery”
David Hunt Featured at Wine Festival
Over the past few years, Hunt Cellars has across the country in New York, Idaho, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, who
become one of the most highly acclaimed Massachusetts, Tennessee, Florida, and are using the vineyard as a study project.
wineries in California. In that time, wine- Texas. For more information on Hunt Cellars,
maker David Hunt has earned more gold Buzz about Hunt Cellars success has even visit www.huntwinecellars.com or call
medals, scores of 90+ and best of class caught the attention of students at the Amos 818/700-1600 or 805-237-1600.
awards than most wineries can aspire to in a
lifetime. No wonder members of the
American Wine Society have proclaimed
Hunt Cellars the next “cult winery.”
Hunt will be on hand at the Telluride
Wine Festival this weekend, sharing his pas-
sion and skill for winemaking.
From musician to inventor to successful
real estate developer, Hunt turned to wine-
making as a retirement venture. But even in
retirement Hunt was driven to succeed, not
letting small things, like his blindness, get in
the way. In fact, some critics have claimed
Hunt’s loss of sight has only served to
strengthen his other senses, in particular that
of taste. Located in beautiful Paso Robles
Calif., Hunt has taken advantage of dramatic
temperature swings and varying soil types to
produce intense fruits, creating sumptuous
wines with names like “Serenade”,
“Rhapsody in Red” and “Starlight Concerto”
reflecting his love of music.
Recently featured in Business Week,
Hunt Cellars has gained notice from the press
and critics alike. David Jones of Wine Works
said, “To know David Hunt is to know his
wines, engaging, complex, eclectic and pas-
sionate.” Famed wine writer Robert Balzer
called Hunt’s Starlight Concerto “perhaps the
most intriguing Sauvignon Blanc I have ever
Hunt’s wines are now featured in the
restaurants Commander’s Palace in New
Orleans, Cliff House in San Francisco and
Jewel of Newbury in Boston, among others.
While the Hunt wines are sold primarily
through their Wine Club or at the tasting
room, distribution centers can be found
The Hunt Club
Enjoying wonderful wines just got a little simpler…“The Hunt Cellars Wine Club”.
We know that it is not always easy to take that weekend tour to the wine country and stock up on your favorite wines so we are going to make it a
little easier for you to have an ongoing supply of “Memorable Wines” to drink and share with your friends. Here is how “The Hunt Club” works:
Four times a year we will send three bottles of our “Memorable Wines” to your home or business. You will also receive periodic copies of our
Hunt Cellars Newsletter (Tally Ho Press), which will give insightful information about our wines, upcoming events, family recipes, wine pairing
tips, and more.
❑ YES! Please enroll me in your wine club. I do understand that I will be shipped three bottles of wine quarterly, PLUS a
Holiday Shipment. There are certain benefits the Hunt Cellars Club members enjoy such as 20% discount on wine pur-
chases, 15% discount on merchandise, as well as discounts on periodic wine maker dinners. The cost of the wine will be
based on current pricing minus your 20% (or more!) discount.
Members will receive an opportunity to purchase new wine releases first and become eligible to participate in exclusive
wine, harvest and holiday socials. Also all Reserve tastings at no charge. (This agreement subject to 12 bottles per year
before canceling.) Must be 21 years of age or older to join. Call (805) 237-1600 or Fax this form to (805) 227-6700.
MEMBER INFORMATION: SHIPPING INFORMATION:
Full Name (First, Middle Initial, Last) Full Name (First, Middle Initial, Last)
State Zip State Zip
Home Phone Number
Work Phone Number Name on Credit Card
Fax Number Credit Card Number
❑ Visa ❑ MasterCard
Email Address Expiration Date ❑ Discover ❑ American Epress
Since its founding, Hunt
HUNT CELLARS ly staff guides wine tasters in
Cellars has consistently pro- sampling among the award-win-
duced highly acclaimed vin- ning varietals Hunt Cellars has
tages. The Paso Robles winery to offer, which are sold at select
has won numerous gold medals restaurants and wine shops. The
and Best of Class citations at tasting room’s spacious deck
wine competitions, and has overlooks a lush, green lawn and
regularly received ratings of provides tables and a pleasant
90+ points from publications outdoor setting for picnics.
like Wine Enthusiast magazine. Among Hunt Cellars’
The American Wine Society, many accolades are four gold
the Wine Council, and famed medals and one Best of Class for
critic Robert Dierker have its 2000 Cabernet Bon Vivant,
selected Hunt as the next “cult four gold medals and two Best
winery,” a description that well of Class for its 2001 Syrah
describes the vision of David Hilltop Serenade, and seven
Hunt, winemaker and owner of gold medals and three Best of
Hunt Cellars. Class for its 2001 Barbera
A former musician and entrepreneur, cultivation of premium grapes. In the late Starving Artist Vineyards.
David began his third career in 1996 when 1990s, David took enology classes through Though David has won hundreds of
he and his wife, Debby, purchased 550 acres the extension program at the University of awards for his wines, he emphasizes, “My
in Creston, overlooking the horse farm California, Davis. In 1997, he released his goal is to create memorable wines that
owned by “Jeopardy” television host Alex first wine under the Hunt Cellars label. become part of your life, the kind that
Trebec. With a variety of terrain and soil Two years later, David and Debby opened prompt you to remember not only the wine
types and four distinct microclimates, the the Hunt Cellars tasting room at Highway 46 but also the fabulous meal and the great
property offered exceptional potential for the West and Oakdale Road. The Hunts’ friend- company you enjoyed that evening.”
Hunt’s Famous Zinba umin pper
Pinch of c anta Fe pe
ch red and S
ve oil 1/2 tsp. ea
1 Tbsp. oli n sugar
opped 2 Tbsp. brow made meatballs
1 onion, ch garlic 2 to 3 lbs.
8 cloves fresh ño pepper 1 c. Zinfandel pepper
and jalape und black
1 each bell sauce Freshly gro
8 oz. barbe and vinega
r s in olive o
ach catsup eño pepper
1 c. e bell and jalap p epper, and
arlic, and nta Fe dry
té onion, g pepper, Sa y fold into
large sau ce pan sau , vinegar, cumin, red to recipe and gentl d
In a tsup rding ce heat, ad
e sauce, ca pare meatballs acco utes. Redu
Ad d barbequ l. Pre boil for 5 min hly ground
ar. Mix wel mixture to h with fres
brown sug eat, allow tes. Garnis nt Cellars Outlaw
r med ium-high h 0 to 60 minu H u
sauce. Ove mmer for 3 ld Vine Zinfandel or
del, and si
up to 1 c. Zinfan ith Hu nt Cellars
er. Enjoy w
black pepp el.
2875 Oakdale Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446
email@example.com — www.huntwinecellars.com
Sub-AVA: Paso Robles
Owners: David and Debby Hunt
Tasting Hours: 10:30 a.m.– 6 p.m. daily (Summer) & 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. daily (Winter)
Wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Syrah, Zinfandel, Barbera, Petit Syrah, red wine blends, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc
Winemaker’s Specialties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel
Winemaker: David Hunt
THE STORY OF
HUNT CELLARS’ PORTS
hen we first opened highest quality fruit and let moth- other winery. Thus, Hunt Cellars cigar into the Port, it makes it
the tasting room we er nature perfectly ripen the Ports will make “Memorable sweeter). A famous Chef at Cafe
started getting grapes to allow the sweet nectar Gifts” for any occasion. Adelaide in New Orleans mari-
requests for sweet wines like and varietal character to exude. nated strawberries in our
White Zinfandel, which I was Our goal was to make these PORT OF THE MONTH Zinfandel Port and then drizzled
determined never to produce. wines as low in residual sugar CLUB them with chocolate. In our tast-
After looking into the possibili- and alcohol as possible. Due to the popularity of our Ports ing room we serve "Port
ties of either dessert wines or late Therefore, one could drink the we have started a "Port of The Shooters" in a chocolate cup. You
harvest wines, I found that they whole bottle and not feel beat up Month Club". As a Gold Club sip the various Ports and eat the
had either too much residual as some experience with many member, we will ship two bottles chocolate cup. That makes for a
sugar or were too high in alcohol. Tawney Ports. Hunt Cellars ports of port every two months to your most memorable dinner party, try
Due to this I decided to focus on are typically around 8 to 9% door steps. As a Platinum Club it. Call Hunt Cellars today to join
producing “World Class Varietal residual sugar at a alcohol at the member, we will ship out four our Port Club and order your
Ports”. I personally did not find minimum 18 or 19% . bottles every two months. A vari- Ports. We hope you will enjoy
the Ports from Portugal magical In 2000 we produced our first etal Port wine can be enjoyed these one of a kind, unique
and still do not comprehend how Zinfandel Port, "Zinful Delight", with after dinner celebrations, wines. Call us at 866-
the critics are so transfixed on and first Cabernet Port, "Good sipped by a cozy fire before bed HUNTWINE or 805-237-1600
one region or tradition. I did not Vibrations", which were both time, accompanied with your and visit us at
want to emulate this total “Old tremendous successes. I opted to favorite chocolate desserts or www.huntcellars.com.
World” style but wanted a “New hold back two barrels of each how about with your favorite
World” approach which Cabernet and Zinfandel and leave cigar? (I like to dip the end of the Cheers, David Hunt
expressed hints of the beautiful them in the barrel for four or
carmelized pecan, walnut, and more years. We bottled them at
sherry, while retaining the the end of 2005, and they will be
thrilling varietal characters of released later in 2006. During the
Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet or process of 4.5 years of barrel
Merlot. aging we calculated the ‘angels
I found many of the most share’ was over one full barrel as
expensive and highest rated Ports it evaporated into heaven.
were too hot with alcohol, had In 2002 we decided to
over the top walnut and very little expand our lineup to include a
varietal fruit expression.. I Syrah Port, "Sweet Serenade"
believe that consumers really (released 11/05), Merlot Port,
appreciate wines which they "Naked Passion" (released
could recognize both the varietal 11/05), and a Tawney Port,
flavors and the wonderful sweet "Oldie but Goodie" (release date
overtones. 2006). I believe it is a rarity to
Our quest was to find the find a Merlot or Syrah Port at any
Most Frequent Comments From the Tasting Room…
“This is the best flight of “After drinking your wines, I “At most wineries you will “For the past month I have
wines top to bottom I have can’t drink what I used to typically find one or two purchased about two cases
ever tasted, I couldn’t find a drink. I guess hunt Cellars wines you like, but every of other wines and I end up
bad wine. Every wine was as has spoiled us.” wine at Hunt Cellars is pouring them out or not fin-
good as the next.” — New York incredible, balanced and ishing the bottle. I give up,
— Jerry S. amazing.” your wines are the best.
“As a person in the wine — San Clemente, CA Why waste the money?”
“I look forward to every Hunt industry, I have never joined — L. Guerra,
Club shipment. It’s like a wine club, but I was so “Fabulous wines! Our Orange County, CA
Christmas, I know it’s going impressed with your wines I favorites are here…we came
to be good but I don’t know had to be on the list!” all the way from Vegas! “Every wine is so good I
what it is.” — Phil M., Florida Outstanding Wines!” can’t pick a favorite.”
— J. Mathews, L.A. — Mike, Las Vegas, NV — San Francisco, CA