David Hunt: Musician, Businessman, Visionary, Winemaker

David Hunt is many things. He is complex, driven, passionate, gifted, and focused. David doesn’t brush over the fact that he grew up in a poor family in North Carolina. But that never stopped him from always “reaching for the stars.” David Hunt has achieved a pinnacle of success in so many diverse fields it boggles the mind.

As a “child of the 60s,” David was influenced by the music, wanderlust, excitement, and opportunities that presented themselves during that generational renaissance period.

He has always possessed an amazing vision; to say this is not to use a clichéd phrase. As a child, David was diagnosed with an impairment called retinitis pigmentosa, which would cause him to go blind by the time he was in his late 30s. If anything, this served to increase David’s drive and life goals, nothing was going to deter him.

Life Before Wine

The 60s was a time of change, especially in the music scene. The music was creative, transformational, and socially expressive. There was no singular style, it was a tapestry of rock n’ roll, blues, folk, surf, plus other eclectic styles. David, like so many teenagers, was influenced by this musical explosion, so he picked up a guitar, taught himself to play and sing, joined a band, and in his mid-teens, recorded an album. He was so inspired by the music of Elton John, that he taught himself to play the piano.

Having moved to California around that time, taking music courses at UCLA, his musical “career” included recording albums with some of the popular names of the era, which included Ambrosia, Vanilla Fudge, and David Benoit. However, the clock was ticking; David’s vision of the future was expanding while his physical vision was deteriorating. David was now serious about his future lifestyle.

During the 80’s personal home security systems and voicemail were in their infancy. David saw an expanded need and opportunity, so he began developing home security systems, and technology for voicemail. Looking further out, he went into real estate development, being an early pioneer in building what would become the gold standard in homebuilding decades later: the smart home.

Following these successes, it was time to move on to another venture and passion. David sold his business to become a winemaker, and how blessed we are for that!

The Wine

David’s “love affair” with wine began when he was in his 20s, on a trip to Hawaii. He met some people, sat down with them, drank some wine, and was enthralled by how they could talk for hours about “a bottle of wine.” As David says: “With Iife, one thing leads to another.” He began tasting wine, where and whenever possible. Without formal education or training in enology, he developed a sense of smell and taste where he was able to discern nuances, identifying the grape, and more often than not the vintage and even the vineyard. Over the years, visiting various wine-growing areas, the romance of vineyards became ingrained, and David thought “What a bucolic way to retire one day.” Who would have known that sharing a bottle of wine decades earlier would lead to his becoming a winemaker of renown?

Recognizing a symbiosis between wine and music, David went “full steam ahead,” as he did with every venture. Extensively researching and visiting properties, he finally purchased a 550-acre property in Creston, Ca., part of the Paso Robles AVA. The vineyard, named after his newborn daughter, Destiny, seemed quite appropriate! This unique location was chosen because the terroir was so diverse, having different micro-climates, which made this an ideal location to grow a wide assortment of grape varieties.

Following the acquisition of the vineyard, David built a comfortable, welcoming tasting room in Paso Robles, on Highway 46 West. Hunt Cellars was opened in October of 1999 when there were less than 40 wineries in Paso Robles. This was another pioneering venture.

Upon entering the tasting room, you immediately notice the white grand piano, which David plays on his trips to the area. There is also a large tasting bar where you will enjoy premium, award-winning wines. As the tasting menu changes regularly, you may always look forward to exciting repeat visits, never getting bored. Some of the wines you may taste will include:

Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Merlot, Petite Syrah, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, and an Elegant Pinot Port (called Naked Passion)!

David’s love of entwining music with wine is obvious, several of the wines have musically inspired names, such as:

Serenade, Thriller, Imagine, and Twilight Time, to name a few. Then, there is Naked Passion! What’s the point if you can’t have fun while you sip?

Another treat at Hunt Cellars is the opportunity to taste Library Wines along with current releases. It’s rare to go into a wine-tasting room and have the wine attendant pour you a five-year-old wine. At Hunt Cellars you may well be treated to a bottle that has aged for 10, 15, or even 20 years. So, sip back and enjoy the elegance of these impressive wines.

Recently, I had the personal experience of opening a Hunt Cellars 2010 Cabovation from my cellar. At first sniff, I was amazed at the nose. There was an apparent earthiness, but not overpowering the aromas of black plum, dark cherry, blackberry, and spices. On the palate, there was a hint of earthiness (or “forest floor”), deftly woven in with flavors of dark fruits, leather, and spices. The tannins were well integrated leading to a long, smooth, finish. This was a sexy wine, leaving you wanting more, but also demonstrated a character of “new world meets old world;” what a memorable experience it was.

David feels wine and music just naturally go together. And, in addition to his next wine release, David is about to release a new music album entitled: “Everything Is Possible.” How apropos for a man who has proven this to be true, as the title is a statement of David’s lifelong philosophy: Everything IS possible.

Visit Hunt Cellars, experience the passion, and smile as you sip. Cheers!

Don Sonderling is a freelance writer covering California’s Wine Country lifestyle, and culture. He and his wife are constantly sipping their way from Santa Barbara to Napa, focusing on Paso Robles and the Central Coast, where they have explored for about 25 years. Don has earned his WSET2 (Wine and Spirits Education Trust) certification, has completed the Bourgogne Masterclass through the Napa Valley Wine Academy, and is a member of the LA. Wine Writers.

Focusing on the people and unique experiences to be had, Don’s goal is to have people read about California’s amazing wine country adventures, seeing it through his eyes, and say: “I want to go there, try that, meet them,” and enrich the lives of others as his has been, by exploring California’s wine roads.