Musically inspired, hand crafted, small lot wines
—On a quest for great wine? All roads lead to Hunt Cellars, where highly-acclaimed wines have been satisfying the thirst of wine lovers for 20 years and counting. From cabernet, zinfandel, and pinot noir to chardonnay, viognier, and exciting blends and ports, there’s something for every taste palate.
“Our wines have an incredible, distinctive flavor profile,” says winemaker and owner David Hunt. “We are blessed with a world-class vineyard that produces some of the finest fruit in California and, for comparable quality, Hunt Cellars wines are about one-third of the cost of a fancy Napa or Sonoma wine. For someone who knows wine, and knows the quality of great wines, Hunt Cellars is the greatest value.”
Hunt’s approach to winemaking is simple. “I work with the wine until I can’t produce it any better,” he says. “My philosophy is to push the threshold of the winemaking art against the science, which creates the finesse of Hunt Cellars.”
With a background in music and numerous business ventures, Hunt looked to winemaking as a way to retire and enjoy a bucolic lifestyle. Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa as a child, he wanted to start his winery before his sight was completely gone. Having developed his palate over the years, he took classes at UC Davis and a few other universities to learn the requirements for running and operating a successful winery.
“I knew that if I was going to own a winery, it had to be based on my palate alone,” Hunt says. “Our philosophy is to produce the wines in the vineyard, and my job as a winemaker is to protect the great fruit that our vineyard produces. Through hard work and patience, we’ve been blessed to consistently produce great wines.”
Wines made to last the test of time.
Hunt Cellar red wines are in the barrel for about three years and another two years or more in the bottle before being released – as in European countries, these are called “Grand Reserve.” Because of the concentration and low yields of Destiny Vineyard’s fruit and Hunt’s winemaking style, the wines are made to last. At the Hunt Cellars tasting room, guests have the opportunity to taste both older and newer vintages.
“We’ve had over 150 wines earn from 92 to 98 points over the years,” says Hunt, a humble man who is reluctant to brag. “Our cabernets have won the Best of California Wines competition five times and many of our other wines, including our pinot noir, merlot, Rhone blends and viognier, have also earned top honors.”
When the Hunt Family established Hunt Cellars in 1996, it was the area’s 37th winery. They had traveled the country, visited numerous prestigious wine growing regions, and were sold on the Paso Robles area because of the friendly people, creative wine blends, and the potential to make great cabernet. Their 550-acre Destiny Vineyard, named after their daughter, Destiny, consists of multiple terriors with varying elevations and has proven to be one of the top California vineyards, consistently producing many highly-acclaimed wines.
“Even in what the critics call a bad vintage year, a great vineyard consistently produces the best wines,” says Hunt.
Though blind now, Hunt was able to see the property’s soil back in 1996 and knew it was the type that creates the world’s greatest wines – mountain top, which means no clay, very shallow and great drainage. The soil composition is white calcareous, sandy loamy with white limestone and chalkiness. The weather enjoys incredible ocean breezes and perfect heat with cool nights during growing season.
Music & wine inspirations
Many of Hunt’s wines are named after his music including Unforgettable, a merlot; Rhapsody in Red, a heritage blend, and Bon Vivant and Cloud 9, both cabernets. A white grand piano, the centerpiece of the Hunt Cellars tasting room, is where Hunt often entertains guests with a musical number or two after his winemaker’s dinners or as they sip wines at the bar, on the veranda or as they stroll along the lush landscapes.
One has to wonder – does the wine inspire the music or does the music inspire the wine? “Music inspires wine, wine inspires music,” says Hunt. “Have you ever had a good bottle of wine without music? You don’t want depressing music, you want uplifting music and something to fit the mood.”
Hunt’s current musical album, Rhapsody in Red, is available on iTunes, Amazon, and in his tasting room. It has received critical acclaim from Forbes Magazine, Music Making, and Investors Daily, to name a few. His upcoming motivational album, Everything is Possible, is geared towards inspiring young people. A firm believer in the power of positive thinking, Hunt says his positive outlook on life has helped him live out his dreams.
“I like to keep things upbeat and happy,” he says. “It’s worked for me so far and, even though I am blind, I have been blessed. I count my blessings every day and I like to encourage other people. No matter what this world throws at you, you can still be a winner.”
With a newly-renovated tasting room, a beautification process of the grounds, and the future expansion of the barrel room and event space, Hunt continues to improve upon his guests’ experience. Hunt Cellars’ new management and tasting room teams offer friendly service, an overall unique, educational tasting experience, picnic lunch options, wine pairing and verticals tastings on weekends, and barrel tasting.
Visit the Hunt Cellars tasting room, located on Highway 46 West at Oakdale Road. Open daily, 10:30 to 5:30. For more information, call (805) 237-1600 and see huntcellars.com for an exciting schedule of events for locals and visitors alike.
– Meagan Friberg