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Dunites' Unadorned, Cool-Climate Cali Pinot and Chardonnay

Stylized image of Dunites wine bottles

We've had multiple occasions to share the story of the Dunites in this newsletter — for the uninitiated, they were a collective of free-thinking artists, poets, nudists and philosophers who settled in the beach dunes of San Luis Obispo county in the 1930s. We never expected to be referencing nudists so frequently in our wine careers, but it turns out this counterculture philosophy is an outstanding muse for expressive, graceful Central Coast wine.

The Dunites wine project was established in 2015 by the husband-and-wife winemaking team of Tyler Eck and Rachel Goffinet Eck. They like, but do not overuse, whole-cluster inclusion, as well as gentle pigeage, lees aging, neutral oak and minimization of sulfites. Their wines represent everything new and fresh and modern about today's Central Coast style. On offer today is their lovely Pinot-and-Chardonnay duo from the SLO Coast AVA.

Their Cuvée Windward Chardonnay is whole-bunch pressed, fermented in 100% neutral French oak barrels by native yeast, and aged five months on lees prior to bottling. It's crisp, delicate and wonderfully textured — lightly creamy, but not buttery, with the sheer elegance that's consistently at play in every Dunites wine we've tasted.

Just as fresh and crisp but with an added layer of impressively gentle tannin management, their Cuvée Ella Pinot Noir was made with 20% whole bunches. Fermentation by native yeast included a combination of gentle pumpovers and punchdowns followed by basket pressing. It was then aged five months in neutral French oak barrels prior to bottling unfined and unfiltered. The parallel vinification is a nice touch, giving both wines a throughline of freshness and fruit purity not easy to find at this price point. In fact, these might be some of the best-value California wines we've tasted yet.

Will this pair of cool-climate California beauties from the long, chilly 2023 vintage inspire you to paint, write poetry, or run nude through the beach dunes of coastal California? We can't say, but drinking these wines, one can't help but feel like the spirit of the Dunites is alive in the vines, as each sip tastes just a little bit like unbounded, creative joy.

Dunites, Chardonnay Windward SLO Coast, 2023 $27.99

Dunites, Pinot Noir Cuvee Ella SLO Coast, 2023 $29.99


This story was originally featured in our newsletter, where it was offered at a special subscribers-only discount. Subscribers get special offers, the first look at new discoveries, invites to events, and stories about wines and the artisans that make them.