Rising Star Sommelier Chris Dunaway of The Little Nell - Biography

Aspen, CO

March 2017

Chris Dunaway grew up in a small farming town in Kentucky, where he has fond memories of summer nights strolling among his grandfather’s grapevines—an inkling of things to come. Dunaway attended Transylvania University in Lexington, studying biology and psychology with the intention of going into medicine, like many in his family before him. He was working in a hospital by day and a wine bar by night (his friends joked that his life was all drugs and alcohol) when Dunaway decide to pick one. He moved to New York City, crashed with his brother, and landed a gig in Montclair, New Jersey, at a retail wine shop. Within a year he was in Manhattan working for Master Sommelier Laura Maniec at Corkbuzz. 

Two years later, Dunaway made the move to Dinex Group, working under the tutelage of Sommelier Michael Madrigal. In 2015, after more than a year on the floor of Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud, Dunaway decided to move west. As head sommelier of Aspen’s The Little Nell, he’s leading his own team and upholding the reputation of a program that has produced 10 Master Sommeliers, including Wine Director Carlton McCoy, a Rising Stars alum. Dunaway passed the Advanced Sommelier exam on his first try in 2016. When he’s not on the floor or in the Nell’s 24,000-bottle cellar, Dunaway is likely on wine-related travels to Napa, Chile, France, and elsewhere around the world.