Justin Hunnicutt Stephens
Proprietor and Managing Partner
Justin Hunnicutt Stephens, son of Don R. Stephens, the founder of D. R. Stephens Estate, shares his father’s passion for creating world-class wines. Born in San Francisco, Justin attended boarding schools in Massachusetts, Eaglebrook, and Southern California, Thacher. He graduated from University of California at Berkeley in 1998 with a business degree. After college, Justin entered the corporate world and pursued a career in commercial real estate, working as a broker for Cushman Realty Corporation. It was on a business trip during this period, he says, when he realized that his true passion was grounded outside of the realm of commercial real estate.
“I had an epiphany on a flight back from the east coast. It occurred to me that if I were truly passionate about real estate, I would be reading real estate journals and reviewing building pro formas. Instead, I was engrossed in articles about winemaking, different varietals, wine regions, etc,” he says.
That realization changed his career path dramatically. Justin moved to the Napa Valley and began learning the trade from the ground up. “My first job was working as a ‘cellar rat’ during the 2001 harvest at Miner Family Winery.” In addition to Miner Family, he has worked for several other wineries – including Saddleback Cellars, Venge Vineyards, and Seavey Vineyards — in various capacities of production, sales, and management. Justin joined the family business full time as General Manager in January 2004 – the year he also released the first wines under his own label, HUNNICUTT.
In Fall of 2007, Justin and Don Stephens formed a new company that owns D. R. Stephens Estate and HUNNICUTT. “Both brands have been operated out of the same office for the last several years. Once it became clear my father and I shared the same goals for the brands and worked well together, it seemed silly to maintain this financial separation which, candidly, resulted in a multitude of inefficiencies,” says Justin. Justin is the Managing Partner of this company, Stephens Family Wines.
In 2008 Justin and Don formed Hunnicutt Wine Company to acquire and develop a winery to both produce their own wines and custom crush for other small brands. The first phase of the winery was completed in 2011, two days before the first fruit arrived. The HUNNICUTT winery is located on the Silverado Trail just north of St. Helena.