David R. Duncan
Born in Durango, Colorado, David Duncan spent his teenage summers working on a farm and cattle ranch. His experience driving the swather and the baler and riding and roping cows imbued him with a respect for agriculture, a strong work ethic and a Western sensibility that is evident to this day. David also grew up hearing and learning about wine, since his father, Ray Duncan, was co-owner with Justin Meyer of Silver Oak Cellars in California. David has fond memories of visiting Napa in the late 1970’s and 80’s while the Oakville winery was being developed and driving through the vineyards with Justin in his brown El Camino.
David always knew he wanted to work in the family business, and after graduating from University of Notre Dame with an English degree in 1988, he began his career at Denver-based Duncan Oil, Inc, his family’s oil and gas exploration business. He spent the next several years there, eventually going to night school to earn his MBA from the University of Denver in 1994. For his last four credit hours David built a financial model for Silver Oak Cellars.
The project was David’s first work experience with the winery, and from that point forward he was involved in the broader family business, including Silver Oak. In the 1990’s as he moved from Exploration Manager to President of Duncan Oil, David also consulted with his father on employee and strategic matters at Silver Oak. When the winery’s longtime general manager announced his retirement in 2002, Ray asked David if he wanted to move to Napa to run the family’s wine business. Although it was an unexpected path – David’s wife Kary was serving as Assistant Chief of Medicine at the University of Colorado – it took the couple less than 24 hours to say yes.
In addition to his duties at Silver Oak Cellars, David was instrumental in the development of the Duncan family’s brand, Twomey Cellars. Founded in 1999, Twomey was created with the idea of producing a Napa Valley Merlot with the depth and concentration that characterize Merlots of true distinction. With his entrepreneurial spirit and focus on winemaking excellence established at Silver Oak, David oversaw the acquisition of the Calistoga winery that houses Twomey Cellars Merlot, as well as the winery in Healdsburg where Twomey produces Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.
Today, David works closely with his father and his brother, Tim Duncan, adhering to the principle of continuous improvement and the high standards of quality that Justin and Ray established in the beginning. He sets a straightforward, down to earth tone at the wineries, empowering his employees to work hard and always do their best. “We have a great history but we will never rest on our laurels,” he says. “We care deeply about what goes in the bottle, and strive to make each wine excellent.”
After a fire at the Oakville winery in 2006, David recognized a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Working with his family, winemaking team, and hospitality staff, David led the project to rebuild the winery, using his family’s 35 years of experience in the business to create a space ideally suited to producing Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and providing memorable hospitality for their visitors. The new winery opened in September of 2008.
David remains in the oil business as CEO of Duncan Oil. He serves as an active Board Member of First Western Trust Bank, based in Colorado. He is past Chapter Chairman and member of the Northern California Chapter of the Young Presidents Organization. David is also involved in the community serving as Chairman of the Board of the St. Helena Hospital Foundation, Co-Chair of the Capital campaign for the Saint Helena Montessori School and has been active in the efforts of the Napa Valley Vintners.
David lives in St. Helena with his wife Kary, who owns a dermatological practice, and their three children.