In 1973, brothers and fifth generation California farmers, Bob and Steve Miller, established two vineyards: Bien Nacido Vineyards in the Santa Maria Valley appellation of Santa Barbara County, and French Camp Vineyards, in the Paso Robles County appellation.
Bien Nacido Vineyards
In 1969, the Miller Family of California’s Central Coast, purchased the property where the now iconic vineyard exists. In 1973, the Miller brothers planted what is now known as Bien Nacido Vineyards, to mostly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. With great foresight, they planted premium grapes in the nascent Region One valley within Santa Maria. Over the years, they successfully added other varieties to the growing vineyard site. Forty years later, the now iconic American vineyard is known throughout the world as one of the most esteemed vineyards for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and cool-climate Syrah.
Family spokesperson Nicholas Miller said:
“Though this special site is a contiguous piece of property, we call it Bien Nacido Vineyards…in the plural…for a reason. We farm each one of our vineyard blocks differently and methodically, according to the needs of our individual winery customers. Our vineyard manager, Chris Hammell, and his crew, custom farm each block, and in some instances, specific vineyard rows, to meet the very specific needs of the winemakers we work with.”
Santa Maria Valley winemaker, Jim Clendenen, of Au Bon Climat, who is recognized the world over for his tireless efforts in promoting the wines of Santa Maria Valley, adds:
“It is difficult to imagine anything more complex than pioneering a new viticultural area and then making it known as a great grape growing area for 40 years. The Miller Family has done just that with Bien Nacido Vineyards. As a customer for over 24 vintages, I have first-hand knowledge of their dedication to quality, forward thinking, and meticulous execution. Congratulations to Steve Miller and his whole family. “
French Camp Vineyards
Originally part of the San Juan Ranch, the current site of French Camp Vineyards became the Camatta Ranch when the San Juan Ranch was divided into smaller parcels. In 1968, the Miller Family purchased the Camatta Ranch, envisioning a place where they would be able to cultivate various crops, including winegrapes. In 1973, they planted 200 acres to winegrapes. Today, that number has grown to include 1,300 acres planted to a broad array of winegrapes well-suited to this remote, yet picturesque vineyard site.
Lance Silver, owner and winemaker for Tobin James Cellars, says of French Camp Vineyards:
“For almost 20 years, Tobin James Cellars has been fortunate enough to source our Zinfandel from the famed French Camp Vineyards. We bring in over 40 Zinfandel vineyards each harvest, but year after year the French Camp Zins are always among the best. We only bottle two vineyards as "vineyard designate" and the French Camp is one of the two. If everyone farmed their Zins as meticulously as the pros at French Camp, the world would be a better place! Tobin James Cellars congratulates the Miller family for 40 outstanding years and here's to many more amazing harvests to come.”
Nicholas Miller added:
“This vineyard has always been a great source of pride for our family. At the same time, we are humbled by the many great team members who have cared for French Camp over the years. We often hear from clients that our team members are dedicated to meticulous and mindful farming, and that knowledge is something my family really cherishes."
The Miller Family will be celebrating these 40th anniversaries in tandem throughout the summer and fall of 2013, with a series of private events at the French Camp Vineyards as well as the the historic Ontiveros Adobe, one of the very few privately maintained adobes in California, which is located at Bien Nacido Vineyards.