Milliaire Winery

About

Our Tasting Room is a former Flying A gas station on the East side of Main Street in Murphys. Visit us at the tasting bar to try our latest selections or enjoy a glass of wine on our Creekside Patio. Bring a picnic lunch and have a lovely afternoon under the shade of our glorious fig tree. Tasting is only $10 per person and is waived per bottle purchase. If you are in our wine club, tasting is free, so bring your friends and family for a day in our Roadside Chateau! Reservations are encouraged for parties of 6 or more, especially for weekend visits. Please call ahead so we can offer our utmost service to your group.

Location Description

Located in the heart of Murphys, California.

Features

  • The oldest family-owned winery in Murphys, Producing distinctive Zinfandels since 1983.

Additional Information

  • Meeting / Conference Facilities:
  • Caves:
  • Wedding Facilities:
  • Picnic Facilities:
  • Dog Friendly:
  • Winery Tours:
  • Wine Tasting:
  • Art or Architecture:
  • Organic / Biodynamic:
  • Awards:
  • Wine Club:
  • Lodging / Bed & Breakfast:

Average Bottle Price

$ 20

Winemaker

In 1975, Steve got his first winemaking job at David Bruce Winery in Santa Cruz after graduating from Fresno State with a degree in enology with an emphasis in viticulture. He knows the science and art of winemaking and grape growing from the ground up. After over 40 harvests, Steve is still exploring, learning and, most importantly, having fun in the winery. He is part alchemist, part artist and part farmer. The rest of us are fortunate to enjoy both his company and the fruit of his life's work - great bottles of wine!

History

Milliaire Winery is a small family-owned winery founded by Liz and Steve Millier in 1983 in the cellar of their former home in Murphys CA. In 1990, the winery moved to an old Flying A gas station on Main Street in Murphys. The whole building was utilized for daily operations; barrels stacked in the repair bays, wine tanks in the backyard, bottling in the front yard and the tasting room in the office. There were jokes about what was in "those tanks" and a friend of the Milliers' dubbed it the "Roadside Chateau". Following their dreams of making premium wines from the Sierra Foothills, today Milliaire Winery has expanded and occupies over an 8,000 square foot winery with a dedicated barrel room and modern crush pad facility.

Estate Vineyards / AVA

Clockspring Vineyards:

The first time I met Clockspring Vineyard owner Frank Alviso was during the 1978 harvest. Frank was delivering a load of Zin grapes to the David Bruce Winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where I was the winemaker. Frank's grape truck was jackknifed on serpentine Bear Creek Road, and we worked together to bring the load safely into the winery. That was the beginning of a very satisfying vineyard-winery partnership.

In 1982 I moved to Stevenot Winery in Murphys, and for the next eight harvests I made White Zin from Clockspring Vineyards. While not an artistic challenge for the winemaker, White Zin was nevertheless a cash flow boon for wineries at that time. Fortunately, I was also able to make some outstanding red wines from Clockspring grapes while winemaker at Stevenot. The 1983 Zin received a Double Gold from the Orange County Fair. The 1986 Clockspring Late Harvest won a gold medal at the California State Fair, and was also named most outstanding wine of the Sierra Foothills region.

Frank Alviso also enabled me to reach a personal milestone, establishing my own winery. When I received my enology degree in 1975, it was my goal to start my own winery by my 35th birthday in 1983.

The 1983 harvest was cursed by unseasonable early rains, making conditions abysmal. I remember harvesting Cabernet in the rain of October 28, 1983, my 35th birthday. There were no winery prospects in sight, it was pretty grim.

In the midst of this gloom, Frank called to see if I might be interested in his Cabernet Sauvignon. I accepted wholeheartedly, and that Cabernet was the start of Milliaire Winery in 1983, the year I turned 35. Clockspring has a very limited planting of Cab, which was actually planted by mistake. That mistaken planting of Cab has brought great success to my winery.

The Clockspring Vineyard is located in the Shenandoah Valley of Amador County, established in the early 1970's by Frank Alviso and his business partner John Hahn. John and Frank met and were college roommates at Stanford. Clockspring Vineyard encompasses 400 acres of planted grapes and has many different vineyard sites and microclimates. Clockspring Vineyard is the largest grower of Zinfandel in Amador County and is Certified Organic.


Clockspring Vineyard is synonymous with Amador County Zinfandel. We have made some outstanding big Zins from this vineyard. We have also made some other wonderful wines from this vineyard. We produce a Muscat Canelli, which we call Catherine's Cuvee, Syrah, Primitivo, and Port. Every year we still make two barrels of Cabernet Sauvignon from those 400 vines that were mistakenly planted 40 years ago.

The 2013 harvest marked 35 years of making wine from Clockspring Vineyard. Each year has been a challenge and an education. Each year the winery and wine lovers have been rewarded with outstanding wines.

Ghirardelli Vineyard:

The Ghirardelli Vineyard spreads over 25.5 acres of rolling hills near Burson in western Calaveras County. This Zinfandel vineyard is the oldest in the county.

It is owned by Alan and Robert Ghirardelli. Like their father and grandfather before them, the Ghirardelli brothers tend the gnarled vines and preserve a family tradition that is over 100 years old. Alan is quick to point out that they are not related to Ghirardelli Chocolate."Our family vineyard has survived and the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company was sold long ago," says Alan Ghirardelli.

Grandfather Ghirardelli emigrated from Genoa, Italy in the 1890s. He worked in the Jackson gold mines and in 1900 was able to purchase an established 7.5 acre vineyard on Pettinger Road in Burson.

Starting in 1900, the family operated Standard Fruit and Produce on 6th Street in San Francisco. From 1900 to 1938 they had tenants managing the vineyard and the grapes were shipped by rail from Calaveras County to San Francisco for sale to home winemakers.

In 1938, their tenant at the Pettinger Road vineyard was arrested for bootlegging brandy. At the suggestion of the revenue agent, the Ghirardellis took over farming the vineyard. It was during this time that additional vineyards were planted: 11 acres in 1942 and 7 acres in 1951.

After 1968 the railroad spur in Burson closed down and the Ghirardelli family looked for new customers for their grapes. By this time the California wine industry was experiencing a renaissance with renewed interest in Zinfandel. Beginning in the 1970s the family sold grapes to local wineries.

In 1990 Alan Ghirardelli called Steve Millier and offered him the grapes from his historic vineyard. Steve was thrilled with the opportunity to work with Old Vine Zinfandel grapes. Since that time Milliaire Winery has had extraordinary success producing outstanding wines from this iconic vineyard.

The vineyard is unique, even among old Foothill vineyards. The grapes are dry-farmed; there is no irrigation. The vines are trained in the old Italian style; as "little trees". They are head-trained and spur-pruned. The vineyard site is also located on an ancient river bed.

The soils are especially shallow, averaging 1.5 to 2 feet deep. They have excellent drainage combined with good air circulation in the vineyard, so the grapes can ripen with no threat of mold. For this reason, the Ghirardellis have been able to continue their family tradition of organic farming for over 100 years.

All these viticultural factors combine to produce a low-yielding vineyard, averaging one ton of grapes per acre. Those few tons have extraordinary concentration of flavor and intense varietal character. UC Davis viticulturalists have taken cuttings from the vineyard to enhance their own test vineyard, and to establish the Ghirardelli clone of Zinfandel.

Today Alan and Robert are sharing day to day management of the vineyard with the next generation of the Ghirardelli family. Two of Robert's children, Alice and David, are now actively participating in managing the vineyard. The next generation of the Ghirardelli family is infusing new energy into the vineyard and each has their own project to contribute.

Alice Ghirardelli has replanted the vineyard originally established in 1951 using Ghirardelli cloned Zinfandel planted on disease resistant root stock. Alice is a civil engineer by training and brings a structural focus to the vineyard. When she replanted the vineyard she realized the young vines would need more water than was available. Alice is a woman of action - she dug a well. When she realized that the cost to bring power to the well was prohibitive - she established a solar farm.

David Ghirardelli has taken on the task of revitalizing the 100 plus year old vineyard by standing the vines up and letting them reinvigorate themselves. Some of the historic vines had lost all semblance of being "little trees" and were sprawling on the ground. He has taken these vines and re-staked them, allowing the vines to spread out and receive more sunshine and nutrients. He has established a composting program to reintroduce organic matter and nutrients to the vineyard. David has also taken on the project of bringing back the white grape varieties that were part of the original planting. In 2012 Milliaire Winery produced the first ever bottling of white wine from the vineyard, "Ghirardelli Bianco".

Awards

2013 Amador County Primotivo "Jeunesse"
DOUBLE GOLD - San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
2013 Mokelumne River Pinot Noir
SILVER - San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
2011 Calaveras County Ghirardelli Zinfandel
SILVER - San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
2011 Amador County Clockspring Zinfandel
SILVER - San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
2010 Calaveras County Triumph Cabernet Sauvignon
BRONZE - San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

Be the first to review this item!

Hours

Open daily 11 am to 5 pm

Address

276 Main St
Murphys, California 95247
United States

Get Directions

Advertisement
Newsletter