In 2008, Ellie and Chris launched Dunstan Wines to showcase the stunning fruit from the storied Durell Vineyard. The two married and settled in Sonoma where, between harvests, Ellie campaigns for endangered wildlife while Chris continues to build a digital platform that has changed the way wineries do business.
Since then, Dunstan has grown in stature but still remains small in production. Today, with the addition of Star Mooring Farm in the Willamette Valley, the Dunstan project is an expression of two distinct vineyards.
Good Luck in Every Bottle
When we found an old horseshoe while planting the Ranch House Block at Durell Vineyard in 2005, we remembered the legend of Dunstan, the patron saint of blacksmiths who tricked the devil into making a promise to stay away, rendering the horseshoe a lucky charm for the rest of time. The horseshoe we found is etched on the Dunstan label, hopefully bringing good fortune to our vineyards and everyone who works the vines, and enjoys the wine.
ELLIE PHIPPS PRICE
CO-OWNER AND FOUNDER
Ellie’s family name, Phipps, is derived from the Greek Philippos, meaning “lover of horses,” and she has lived up to it by rescuing countless wild mustangs over the years.
An advocate for open spaces and their inhabitants, Ellie founded the Montgomery Creek Ranch and Preserve, a 2,000-acre ranch near Stonyford, California where more than 200 wild horses roam free. She is also the board president of the American Wild Horse Campaign. Her first mustang is named “Dunstan.”
Ellie purchased the Durell Vineyard in 1998 and has worked to make Durell’s farming practices sustainable with the land, water, and wildlife around the vineyard. She has made it her mission to preserve the flourishing quality of life nurtured by natural landscapes, whether for a galloping herd or a deeply rooted vineyard.
CO-OWNER AND FOUNDER
Enamored by aviation, Chris can often be found at altitude, piloting his Cessna 206 above the rolling topography of Sonoma County. He’s equally at home in the saddle, and in fact first met Ellie on horseback, in his native Colorado.
Chris was drawn to the sun-kissed hills of Sonoma County by this region’s nonchalant balance between natural beauty, inviting atmosphere, and passionate people. Having walked the rows of Durell Vineyard since 2006, he possesses a deep understanding of the estate, and works alongside winemaker Kenneth Juhasz to craft the elegant and expressive Dunstan wines.
Chris is a gifted collaborator with a knack for creating tight bonds within the wine community. In 2011, he launched VineSpring, a software venture that marries his loves for wine and tech. The e-commerce platform outfits craft producers of beverage alcohol with innovative digital shopping solutions and a support system that functions like family.
A one-time gig turned into a full-time calling. Kenneth worked at a wine shop during college to put a dent in tuition. After graduating, this North Carolina native trotted the globe with his twin brother, John. A trip to Burgundy and a sip of Montrachet stole his heart: “I was levitating,” he recalls now.
Enchanted by Pinot Noir and fastened to the Burgundian style, Kenneth trekked to the Willamette Valley and New Zealand for harvests. In 2001, he arrived in Sonoma with newfound cellar wisdom. His attachment to expressive, site-driven wines drove him to esteemed winemaking posts with labels like Donum Estate, sparked the creation of his own label, Auteur, and brought him to Dunstan as our vintner.
The product of determined self-education as opposed to strict formal training, Kenneth brings a certain intuition to his craft. Our sonorous wines echo Kenneth’s prowess and personality as much as our outstanding vineyard sites.
DIRECTOR OF SALES & MARKETING
Growing up in a large, food-loving family in New Orleans, Jim fell for flavor early on. An education in computer science landed him in New York, where he consulted for more than a decade for banks and corporations, while also moonlighting at bottle shops, gaining a reverence for wine and experiencing the thrill of sharing it with others.
A harvest in Italy shifted things for good. Jim returned stateside to start his own Tribeca wine shop and earned his WSET Level 4 diploma. He devoted vacations to exploring wine regions, and on one of these trips he befriended Chris and Ellie. Finally, he got up the gumption to push west to share in the legacy of a vineyard he had long praised from afar: Durell. When he isn’t focusing on Dunstan, he’s busy with Coferment, his boutique direct-to-consumer winery consulting firm.
Back when she was deliberating—and ultimately avoiding—law school, Nina worked in fine restaurants in Chicago. It was here that the Bangkok native developed her love for wine, focusing on genuine enjoyment and education. Her interest in gastronomy brought her to California, where she’s now surrounded by farms and fresh ingredients, and finds herself fascinated by the region’s diverse microclimates and topography.
Wine’s gathering powers have always appealed to Nina. She personifies our belief that great wine is an invitation to connect, and a link to the past, the land, and others. “In a beautiful timeless way,” you might hear her say.
Ellie and Chris stand up for vulnerable species, open lands, and honest-to-earth sustainability. Their commitment to these values led to the creation of Montgomery Creek Ranch, a nonprofit horse sanctuary. They wear it on their sleeves through their support of organizations like the American Wild Horse Campaign and WildAid.