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Uncorked: Winemaker believes in charitable approach

Nat Gunter has a wide view when it comes to wine. 

The winemaker for Cultivate has discovered great juice on the open market in three different continents. He’s a believer that wine should achieve balance in fruit, flavors and acidity so it can be enjoyed with a wide variety of meals. And, he’s got a talented group of colleagues with loads of experience in the wine industry from which he can draw.

Even more impressive is the charitable approach of Cultivate, which has benefited charities across the country. 

Winemaker spotlight

Ali and Charles Banks built Screaming Eagle into a Napa Valley cult wine favorite. Impossible-to-source bottles commanded four-figure pricetags and were auction house darlings. The mythological bottle was an everyday consumer’s White Whale. 

Their former winery still carries a lofty place amongst collectible bottles. But Terroir Selections, the new company of which Cultivate is a part, is a creative laboratory upon which great everyday wines are made. 

“Sometimes I feel like being a fly on the wall,” said Cultivate winemaker Nat Gunter. “Just to listen to the feedback about a wine from such a talented group with passion and intellect about wine is great. The wealth of experience we bring to a value-driven wine.” 

While consumers are treated to a great price and excellent wine, charities are beneficiaries of The Give, a project that has donated the first 10 cents of every dollar to more than 45 different nonprofit organizations across the country.  

The running total can be found at and as of deadline it is up to $430.905.86.

“We utilize all of our skills to bring to bottle a great wine at a wallet-friendly price point,” Gunter said.  

What to buy

Cultivate, Dream Walking, Chardonnay 2010 ($17.99)

When Gunter crafts Chardonnay, he considers three defining components: fruit, alcohol and the use of oak. 

Dream Walking is an inspired effort that yields superb purity of fruit. Gunter enjoyed the green apple, honeydew melon and ginger that shined once bottled. The crisp acidity helps to keep every flavor in line for a toasted almond note that comes through on the finish.

“We wanted to lead with fresh, vibrant fruit,” Gunter said. “That’s always been important to me.”

Cultivate, The Feast, 2010 ($17.99)

Soft and velvety on the palate, The Feast is predominately Merlot and has bright cherry, blueberry and clove notes. The addition of Malbec enhances the forward fruit. Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah add depth and structure. This is my favorite domestic interpretation of a Right Bank Bordeaux wine this year. It’s a great addition to any meal. 

“The feast has such a velvety texture,” Gunter said. “The way it feels is what I love about Merlot. We use old vines and also pull in some Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec for texture and structure.”

• James Nokes writes a bi-weekly wine column for the Daily Chronicle. He’s been tasting, touring and collecting in the wine world for several years. Contact him at

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