Beloved Sonoma Valley vintner Robert Hunter Jr. dies

Nearly five months after his 91st birthday, Robert E. Hunter Jr. died in his sleep on Tuesday, Oct. 1, in the early evening hours.

Affectionately referred to as “Bob,” Robert Hunter Jr. owned Robert Hunter Winery and the 42-acre vineyard tucked away on Arnold Drive that distinguishes itself as the smallest champagne house in California and is touted as one of the most intimate winery experiences in the Valley, with visits in the family’s home and private tours of the estate.

Robert Hunter Jr. always wanted to live in the country and preferred Sonoma over Napa, so buying the land in 1973 was a dream, said his son, Robert Hunter III. Along with his wife, Ann, Robert Hunter Jr. cultivated the 70-acre estate that includes the vineyard and the family’s home. However, Robert Hunter Jr. did not permanently move to Sonoma until six years ago.

“He was a pioneer; he found a slice of heaven here in the Valley of the Moon and pursued his dream,” Robert Hunter III said, comparing his father to Angelo Sangiacomo, in that he found a part of Sonoma County that was unplanted and planted grapes on “what has turned out to be one of the greatest vineyards in Sonoma County.”

A descendent of the Scottish Hunter clan, the Pasadena native “lived his Scottish heritage,” notes Robert Hunter III, who is known as Rob. He worked for years as a banker in San Francisco, specializing in agricultural lending. In those days, explains Rob Hunter, business was done based on relationships and Robert Hunter Jr. “was an incredibly well-liked man, known for his friendships.”

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