Outstanding Marriage of Howell Mountain and Valley Floor Cabernet Sauvignon

Today’s Story: Dunn Vineyards

Dunn Vineyards dates to 1979 when Randy and Lori Dunn purchased a 14 acre parcel in Angwin with about 5 acres planted to Cabernet Sauvignon. Though Randy worked as a winemaker in Rutherford for his day job, he spent the nights and weekends with Lori and their young son Mike farming their vines. The Dunn family also farmed Harry Frank’s adjacent vineyards and purchased the fruit resulting in a first harvest of 9 tons of fruit. With an additional purchase of 3 tons from Beatty Ranch, the Dunn’s were on their way to producing their first vintage. The family moved onto their property shortly thereafter with another young child, Jennifer, and Dunn Vineyards was officially bonded in 1981. After their second daughter, Kristina, was born, Randy was still working in Rutherford when the winery’s success picked up and encouraged him to leave his job in 1985 to move into a new family house and put all of their effort into Dunn Vineyards. By the late 1980s, Randy was consulting for other wineries, their wine was selling out, and the family needed to burrow into the mountain in 1989 to create more room for barrels. Mike returned in 1999 and three years later became a full-time employee at Dunn Vineyards and after Kristina graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in winemaking and viticulture she joined as well. Today, Kristina’s daughters play in the vineyards and Mike’s son helps bottle the wines, making it seem the family tradition at Dunn Vineyards is set to continue into three generations and beyond. Today, the family farms 42 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon high up on Howell Mountain and the resulting wines are elegant yet profound and built for cellaring.

Today’s Wine: 2014 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

100% Cabernet Sauvignon; 13.9% ABV

The 2014 Napa Cab is opaque deep purple/ruby in color. Once this opens up, the nose showcases aromas of blackcurrant, blackberry, plum, black cherry, redcurrant, red licorice, cedar, tobacco, loamy earth, graphite, green herbs, and a touch of vanilla. On the palate, the wine displays notes of blackberry, crème de cassis, black cherry, black raspberry, charred earth, smoke, pencil shavings, chocolate, and oak. This wine is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, grippy high tannins, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $90. Dunn always produces exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon and this is relatively a good value, however I would spend the extra money to buy their Howell Mountain bottling which is consistently one of my favorites. These wines are built for the long haul as well, as I’ve tasted them back to the 1980s and each was fantastic. Pair with filet mignon, roasted lamb, or pepper-crusted ahi tuna.

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