Police investigating US winemaker’s death

Police in Oregon are investigating the death of pioneering Washington-based winemaker Eric Dunham whose body was found in Cannon Beach last Thursday.

Eric Dunham with his beloved border collie Port. Photo c/o Dunham Cellars

As reported by Wine Spectator, the body of the 44-year-old was found in the city of Cannon Beach in Oregon, some 340 miles from his winery, Dunham Cellars, in Walla Walla.

“This is beyond horrible news. It’s knock-down, shocking, crazy news,” actor-turned-winemaker Kyle MacLachlan told Wine Spectator.

Pursued by Bear Syrah made in collaboration with actor Kyle MacLachlan

Baby Bear Syrah, which Dunham made in collaboration with actor Kyle MacLachlan

“He was incredibly creative, and incredibly impulsive. He threw himself into any situation with gusto. He had this wonderful, young, impulsive energy,” he added.

MacLachlan, known for his roles in Twin Peaks, Sex and the City and Showgirls, partnered with Dunham on two wines: Pursued by Bear Cabernet Sauvignon and Baby Bear Syrah, debuting with the 2005 vintage.

Growing up in Walla Walla, before entering the wine world Dunham served for four years in the US navy.

Starting his wine career at Hogue Cellars, he went on to work as a winemaking assistant at L’Ecole No. 41, starting Dunham Cellars at the same time.

Dunham commercialised his first wines in 1997 with a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Syrah from the 1995 vintage.

In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, Dunham made red blends, Chardonnay and Riesling. His wines consistently earned top ratings.

In 1997, he and his father converted an old airplane hanger at Walla Walla Regional Airport into what is now Dunham Cellars.

Aside from wine, Dunham was a passionate painter – a number of his original artworks grace his wine labels.

He is survived by his wife Kanae and son Hikari.

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