Dunn Winery

How variations on the Napa Valley model yield some unmatched wines


The wines of Randy Dunn really need no introduction. First with Caymus Vineyards, where Randy was the winemaker from 1975 through 1985, and then with his eponymous Dunn label, whose first release was a 1979 Cabernet from Howell Mountain fruit, Dunn’s wines have made people take notice. Indeed, much of Caymus’s fame was built on the wines of those vintages, and while the Dunn wines are cut from a different cloth, they have won admirers for years.
A Tale of Two Wineries
The lives of the two wineries are more closely related than a shared winemaker. In fact, Randy Dunn happened upon what would ultimately become the first Dunn vineyard in 1978 as he came wandering up Howell mountain to look at property that Caymus was looking to source fruit from. He found a small vineyard next door and knew it was a place to make great Cabernet, so he bought the vineyard. The connection doesn’t stop there. The location of the winery, what was the Dunn home, and the most recent addition to Dunn’s vineyard holdings were purchased from Caymus’s proprietor Charlie Wagner. 
Charlie Wagner bought the property, which had been planted to walnut and plum trees with the intention of letting his son, and current Caymus proprietor, Chuck Wagner live there and plant a vineyard. He got as far as ripping out the walnut and plum trees, but as it turned out the younger Wagner had no intention of leaving the relative bustle of opportunity the valley offered for the remoteness of Howell Mountain. Randy originally bought the home and later was able to buy the field, which was planted to hay, fodder for the horses the family kept, until about 1999.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, progress at Dunn was slow. The times were different, the winery was started on essentially a part time basis, and Randy was not wont to bite off more than he could chew. A press here, a forklift there—the workings of the winery were acquired piecemeal as things became affordably available. In fact, the the first tanks were old milk tanks, perhaps unexpected but then a tank was a tank, and they worked. 

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Top 3 Dunn Vineyards

Dunn Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain (2007)
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Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (2005)
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  • Snooth User: rwiley111
    1275621 27

    I have had the pleasure of tasting/drinking the Dunn Howell mountian vintages from 1981 thru 1987 in the early to mid 1990's and would very much like to try the 1985 again in a few years, because at the time I had it in 1992 my though was give it another 20 years, so it should be about perfect know. The 1990 Dunn Napa was the only Dunn wine that I found undrinkable but time may have changed that also, or just an off bottle. You do not mention the early Pahlmayer Reds that I believe were made by Mr. Dunn.

    Apr 15, 2013 at 2:01 PM

  • Snooth User: tuckert
    1025566 9

    Dunn's Howell Mountain cabs are uncompromisingly made and always outstanding. I own every vintage.

    Apr 15, 2013 at 7:53 PM

  • thanks

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