Sonoma County has lost two prominent old guard vintners in recent weeks. Robert Hunter Jr. and Dale Goode were both members of a generation that began raising the county's fine wine profile in the 1970s.
Hunter, 91, passed away at his home Oct. 1. He was founder and owner of Robert Hunter Winery in Sonoma Valley, which specializes in sparkling wine. Born in Pasadena, Hunter spent most of his career as a San Francisco banker who focused on agricultural loans. He planted his first vines in Sonoma in 1973 and released his first wines in the early 1980s. Today, the Hunter family farms 42 acres and son Rob Hunter is the winemaker.
Hunter is survived by his wife, Ann, four children, eight grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Goode, 79, the last of the founding trio of Murphy-Goode Vineyards and Winery, died Sept. 23 in Healdsburg. He had been in failing health for some time, complicated in part by a 1976 accident that left him partially paralyzed. “Dale Goode was a pioneer and has surely left his mark on the wine industry," said David Ready Jr., Murphy-Goode's winemaker. Ready's father, Goode and partner Tim Murphy founded the winery in 1985.
Born in the San Joaquin Valley, Goode studied viticulture at University of California at Davis and spent several years growing table grapes in the valley. When a friend told him of opportunities in Sonoma, he took a job as a vineyard manager in Alexander Valley, introducing trellising techniques still in use today.
In 1976, while serving as a volunteer fireman, Goode was injured when a storm toppled a tree that landed on the truck he was driving. Despite the challenges, he remained a prominent grower in Alexander Valley while confined to a wheelchair. Goode and his partners sold Murphy-Goode to Jackson Family Farms in 2006.
Goode is survived by his wife, Nydia, two daughters and one grandson.