Eric Dunham, a native to the Walla Walla area, grew up with the passion to make wine. After serving four years in the Navy and then graduating in 1994 from Walla Walla Community College with his AAAS degree in Irrigation Technology he was asked the question of what he wanted to do.
"Make wine," he said.
He followed his passion and began a seven-month internship with Hogue Cellars where he was trained in all phases of winemaking. Upon completion of his internship, he was employed by L'Ecole No. 41 winery in Lowden, WA as the assistant winemaker for four years.
at right, Eric Dunham
More About Dunham Cellars
During that time he began producing his own wine, beginning with 200 cases and increasing every year. Soon his production outgrew the L'Ecole facility and in 1999, Eric along with his parents, Mike & Joanne Dunham, opened their own winery at the Walla Walla Regional Airport.
Eric makes stop quality Cabernets as well as Syrah. Dunham Cellars began producing wine in 1995 and released 200 cases in December of 1997. This first production of Cabernet Sauvignon received a Gold Medal and a 93 rating from the World Wine Championships.
The second vintage, 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon, was released in December 1998. Production for this vintage, shortened by the freeze of 1996, was limited to 70 cases.
The third vintage, 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon, released approximately 400 cases in September 1999. This Cabernet Sauvignon was awarded a Gold Medal and "Best of Show" honors out of 340 entries at the Northwest Wine Summit held at Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood, Oregon in May, 1999.
at right, "Port" the three legged dog Eric nurtured back to health after being attacked - his two legs are on the "port" side, thus the name - graces the label of the "Three Legged Red"
In June 2001, Eric was awarded one of seven Gold Medals at the Northwest Wine Festival hosted by the Seattle Enological Society.
In 2012, Eric's string of high ratings and honors makes him not only a nationally famous winemaker but a pioneer of the moden Walla Walla wine industry.
Through extended maceration (cold soaking), gentle crushing and destemming techniques, Eric achieves his goal of a wine both age-worthy and yet approachable now. The wines are typically cold soaked for 5 to 10 day's which in his "opinion" enhances the nose and color extraction. Through gentle treatment at all phases of the wine's life, Eric hope's to bring to the bottle something he enjoys and is proud of.
Dunham's winery, built on a 21-acre plot on a hill near L'Ecole, has a subterranean facility for storing barrels of wine. He also has a 15-acre vineyard. The grapes for the current vintage came from vineyards in Zillah and Paterson, Wash., and Milton-Freewater, Ore.
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