Dunn Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, Napa Valley

Dunn’s Cabernet Sauvignons are expressive and fabulously complex. The Napa Valley wine is a blend of their Howell Mountain fruit and a small quantity of valley floor fruit that Dunn purchases from growers who they respect and trust. This valley floor fruit contributes to the wine’s earlier approachability and softer tannic structure. Aged for 32 months in 100% new French oak. It is drinking well now and will cellar beautifully.

Randy and Lori Dunn first bought land on Howell Mountain in 1978, starting with a 14-acre parcel in Angwin with 5 acres of Cabernet vines on it. Randy was working full time as a winemaker in Rutherford, so farming their property happened on weekends and evenings with their son, Mike. By 1981, they were a bonded winery, and then in 1984, Howell Mountain was approved as a sub-AVA of Napa Valley. In 1985, Randy left his job in the valley to dedicate himself full-time to Dunn Vineyards. Mike and his sister Kristina, came on full time, making Dunn an official multi-generational family winery.

Now The Dunns farm 42 acres spread over 5 distinct vineyard sites. They feel this is a manageable amount, but that any more would not allow them to do all the farming and winemaking themselves.

Howell Mountain is special because it is located above 1400 feet in elevation. They see more sunshine being above the fog layer, but their heat tends to be more moderate. Spring starts later, and both spring and winter are cooler than the valley floor. Frost is of course always a concern, and yet wet vintages are less devastating for them than they are on the valley floor. Average yields are very low at around 2 tons an acre.

Conservation is a top priority for the Dunns. Randy and Lori first got involved in 2004 when they gifted the development rights for their Sentinel Hill property to the Napa Land Trust. The property is 64 acres of forested hillside overlooking the town of Angwin, up on Howell Mountain. They also have given the largest donation in the history of the Land Trust to help purchase the Wildlake Ranch – a 3000-acre property up on the mountain. They feel a sense of urgency in the Napa Valley to preserve the natural landscape. The influx of big money coming into the area puts tremendous pressure on the wild lands above the valley floor, and there is a constant tension between preservation and projects to clear land to plant vineyards.


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