David R. Duncan
Proprietor and Chairman/CEO
It’s a rare day that you find David Duncan, family owner of Silver Oak, Twomey, OVID Napa Valley and Timeless Napa Valley, sitting in his office. Instead, you’ll likely spot him between vineyard rows, sporting a hard hat at a winery construction site, or chatting with customers at the tasting room bar. “I’d rather drive a forklift than write emails,” he laughs.
Coupled with his characteristic approachability and good humor, David’s hands-on commitment to continuous improvement has fueled the evolution of the Family of Silver Oak for more than two decades.
In 1972, his father, Ray Duncan, co-founded Silver Oak Cellars with Justin Meyer and introduced David to the family business. With a first taste, David would complete his MBA at the University of Denver (’94), where he built a financial model for the company. Soon after, in 1999, Ray, David, and David’s brother Tim Duncan founded Twomey Cellars, a new brand from the Duncan family and producer of Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. In 2002, David officially joined Silver Oak and today leads the Family of Silver Oak as Chairman & CEO. Along with Tim, who oversees domestic and international sales as Chief Revenue Officer, David has advanced the company to become one of Napa Valley’s most recognized and renowned producers.
In 2006, a fire destroyed the Silver Oak Napa Valley Winery in Oakville, leaving the family with the decision to either salvage the facility or rebuild from scratch. David saw the silver lining: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a space ideally suited for the production of Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon and the enjoyment of visitors. Recognized as the first commercial production winery in the world to be LEED Platinum certified, the new winery crystallized the pillars of David’s leadership approach and set the stage for Silver Oak’s culture of industry leadership and firsts.
From the fire also rose David’s unwavering focus on quality and continuous improvement: “We’re not in pursuit of more, we’re in pursuit of better,” he says. David continuously seeks out prime vineyard sites to add to the portfolio and encourages employee innovation—like the development of Berry Sensory Analysis, a pioneering and rigorous approach used to determine when grapes are at peak ripeness. The same attention to producing exceptional wines also applies to sustainability. All Silver Oak and Twomey vineyards are certified under Fish Friendly Farming and California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, criterion viewed as central to both land stewardship and wine quality.
In 2015, David’s commitment to excellence was a leading factor in the company’s decision to purchase The Oak Cooperage in Higbee, Missouri, making Silver Oak the first North American winery to own and operate an American oak barrel cooperage. Owning a cooperage provides complete control over the quality and supply of the American oak barrels that are a key factor in the style—aroma, flavor and texture—of Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon.
Never resting on his laurels, David set his eyes on the company’s future, most notably building the Silver Oak Alexander Valley Winery, which opened in 2017. Inspired by the rebuild of the Oakville winery, David and Tim set out to find the perfect site to grow exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon and provide a first-rate, unrivaled customer experience. Like Oakville, this winery in Healdsburg uses state-of-the-art technologies and is LEED Platinum certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. In April 2020, the facility also became the largest, certified Living Building in the world—and the first winery to ever receive Living Building Challenge certification in all seven performance areas from the International Living Future Institute (ILFI).
Even with his hands-on commitment to the Family of Silver Oak, David finds time to be a community leader. A member of the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) Board of Directors from 2014 to 2022, David was also Chairman in 2015 and co-chaired Auction Napa Valley in 2014—its highest-grossing year. In 2008, David and Tim also co-chaired the NVV’s Premiere Napa Valley, a wine auction for the trade. He served as a board member and past Chairman of the St. Helena Hospital Foundation; in 2016, his fundraising efforts led to a banner year for the St. Helena Hospital Gala. David was co-chair of the Capital Campaign for the St. Helena Montessori School, is a board member of the First Western Trust Bank in Colorado, and is past Chapter Chairman and member of the Northern California Chapter of the Young Presidents’ Organization. When not making wine, David plays guitar and sings with the Silverado Pickups, a band he co-founded with his friend and fellow vintner Jeff Gargiulo of Gargiulo Vineyards.
An industry spokesman, David appears on behalf of the Family of Silver Oak and the California wine industry on CBS This Morning, CNBC, Bloomberg News, FOX News; his quotes appear in national publications including Entrepreneur, Associated Press and Wine Spectator.
David lives in St. Helena with his wife Kary, an MD with a private dermatology practice. They have three children.