In a world where most bottles of wine are consumed young within hours of purchase Dunn has been a consistent outlier, producing some of Napa Valleys most ageable wines for over three decades. Randy Dunn got his start working at Caymus in the 1970’s before buying 14 acres with his wife high atop Howell Mountain in 1978. From the start Dunn’s wines were relatively unapproachable in their youth showing incredible concentration, tannin, and fruit. Many in the collector community wondered if and when these wines would truly shine. After over three decades Dunn’s wines have proven themselves to age into breathtaking examples of Cabernet Sauvignon, with more than one comparison to top Bordeaux producers.
The key to Dunn’s wines is the location of the vineyards high in the mountains. The elevation means the vineyards are sparred from the worst of the afternoon temperatures experienced on the valley floor, it also means the vineyards are above the fogs that regularly cool the lower vineyards while blocking crucial sunlight from reaching the vines. Sparse soils limit water availability creating the small berries that create the most concentrated wines. Consistent pumping over only in the beginning of fermentation helps limit over-extraction while alcohols are usually naturally under 14%. Extended barrel aging builds even more structure for wines truly designed to age for decades.
Dunn is still a family run operation, with Randy Dunn involved in most aspects of the operation with his son Mike now overseeing day to day winemaking and vineyard management. Dunn now owns or manages over 40 acres of Cabernet on Howell Mountain at elevations ranging from 550 to 670 meters, producing 4,000 to 5,000 cases a year with the inclusion of some valley floor fruit for their Napa Valley bottling. There are few plans to expand beyond this relatively modest production level, instead the Dunns are the part of the rare breed dedicated to producing the greatest possible wines they can from their own small plot of land.