David R. Duncan
Proprietor and Chairman/CEO
It’s a rare day that you find David Duncan, family-owner of Silver Oak and Twomey, 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 be driving a forklift than writing emails,” he says.
David’s hands-on commitment to continuous improvement, coupled with his characteristic approachability and good humor, have fueled Silver Oak and Twomey’s evolution over the last two decades.
Early on his father, Ray Duncan, co-founder of Silver Oak Cellars, introduced David to the family business. David got his first taste during his MBA at the University of Denver, when he built a financial model for the company. Soon after, in 1999, David, his father and brother, Tim Duncan, founded Twomey Cellars, producer of Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot. In 2002, David officially joined Silver Oak and today leads both it and Twomey as Chairman and CEO. Along with his brother Tim Duncan, 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 Silver Oak’s 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. The new winery—the first commercial winery in the world to be LEED Platinum certified—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.” David constantly seeks out prime vineyard sites to add 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 of Silver Oak and Twomey’s vineyards are certified under Napa Green and The California Sustainable Winemaking Program, a 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. Silver Oak became first North American winery to own and operate an American oak barrel cooperage. Owning a cooperage gives Silver Oak complete control over the quality and supply of the American oak barrels that are a key factor in its signature Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon.
Never resting on his laurels, David has his eyes set on the future of the company, most notably the building of Silver Oak’s new Alexander Valley Winery in Healdsburg. Inspired by the re-build of the Napa Valley Winery, David and his brother, Tim, set out to find the perfect site to grow exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon and provide a first-rate, unrivaled customer experience. Like Oakville, the new winery uses cutting-edge technologies and was the first winery to receive LEED Platinum certification for Building Design and Construction.
Even with his hands-on commitment to Silver Oak and Twomey, David finds time to be a community leader. A Napa Valley Vintner (NVV) board member, David was Chairman of the NVV Board in 2015 and co-chaired Auction Napa Valley in 2014—it’s highest-grossing year. In 2008, David and Tim also co-chaired the NVV’s Premiere Napa Valley, a wine auction for the trade. In addition to past roles as Chairman of the St. Helena Hospital Foundation and co-Chairman of the St. Helena Montessori School capital campaign, he currently serves on the board of First Western Trust Bank in Colorado. David was also previously Chairman 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 Silver Oak & Twomey and the California wine industry on CBS This Morning, CNBC, Bloomberg News and 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 M.D. with a private dermatology practice, and their three children.