Hunnicutt is my middle name, but it wasn’t until after I released the first HUNNICUTT wines that I learned its true origin. As a young boy I was often teased about this unusual middle name, which bothered me until my father told me about the great General Hunnicutt, a daring and feared presence in America’s Wild West. But years later, when speaking at a dinner to introduce the first vintage of HUNNICUTT wines, my father referenced my grandmother, Nora Hunnicutt, in explaining the origin of the name. When I asked my father about Nora’s relationship to the great “General,” I learned there was no General Hunnicutt, just a tall tale fabricated to boost a young boy’s confidence. General or no general, the Hunnicutt name has now been passed down through another generation to our first daughter, Parker Hunnicutt Stephens.
I founded HUNNICUTT in 2002. I’d spent much of my youth in Napa Valley, where part time jobs included working in the vineyards (de-weeding and catching gophers) and scrubbing tanks and assisting with bottlings at wineries of friends. After graduating from U.C. Berkeley I worked in commercial real estate, but realized that wine was of much greater interest and importance to me. I moved to Napa Valley full time to learn the business from the ground up, and for the next several years I juggled night classes in viticulture, enology, and wine marketing with day jobs at wineries in production, sales and management roles. In 2002, as I continued to work and go to school, I made the leap to develop my own brand, HUNNICUTT, enlisting my good friend and noted winemaker Kirk Venge to make the wines.
In 2010, my wife Seana joined the winery in a marketing capacity, applying her prior experience in advertising with client brands such as Sprint, 24 Hour Fitness and The North Face to the development of the HUNNICUTT winery and brand. Seana, who was introduced to wine years earlier by her father, brings a personal, high-touch approach to her work; she embodies the warm, fun-loving and gracious spirit we strive to create at our small winery. In addition to our day jobs, we are also the busy parents of three young children, Parker, Preston and Beckett.
In 2008 we found a 15-acre site that is now the home of the HUNNICUTT winery. Within a day we put an offer on the property, but it was three and a half years until we were able to crush our first grapes here. In fact it took a year and a half just to dig the 18,000 foot-network of caves. Today, this is where we make all of our HUNNICUTT wines, as well as our sister brand, D. R. Stephens Estate. Our modern yet rustic Tasting Room (decorated with vintage skis and a road bike – testaments to our “off work” pursuits) often serves as the site for entertaining visitors and club members, and the landscaped terrace is where we hold family and club member celebrations.