Founding Winemaker Eric Dunham discovered his passion for wine at a young age. As a teenager in the early 1980's, he enjoyed helping himself to his parents' international wine collection. Even with those precious bottles safely tucked away in a locked wine cellar, Eric learned how to pick the lock. When the lock was upgraded, he discovered he could remove the hinges from the cellar door. Mike and Joanne never quite figured out how to keep Eric from his cellar sampling, and during his Navy years stationed at Moffett Field in Santa Clara County, Eric continued to pursue his passion by enjoying many trips to the Napa Valley. With a keen palate and admiration for the art of crafting the perfect bottle, Eric returned home for a father-son fishing trip with Mike. When his dad asked him what he wanted to do with his life, Eric had a clear vision: "I want to make wine."
Following this declaration, Eric landed a 6-month internship at Hogue Cellars in Prosser, Washington, after which he was hired as Assistant Winemaker at L'Ecole No. 41 in the Walla Walla Valley. With Winemaker Marty Clubb's blessing, Eric began making small lots of Dunham wine at L'Ecole, the first bottling being the 1995 Dunham Cabernet Sauvignon I. After the first few vintages of Dunham's eponymous wine were released to great acclaim, the aspiring young winemaker found warehouse space in an old WWII airplane hangar in Walla Walla, and was able to convince his parents to help him launch Dunham Cellars.
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