For four generations, the Miller family has been farming in the Yakima Valley – Washington’s oldest established AVA and is home to some of the state’s finest vineyards. Situated along the anticlines of the Rattlesnake Mountains near a WWII airbase, the estate’s original vines date back to 1968. Over the years, the estate has expanded to include 26 different grape varieties and spans over 860 acres. Although most of the farm’s soils would be classified as Warden silty loam, areas of shallow rockier soils, as well as sandier sites add diversity. The dry climate and sustainable viticultural practices employed help maintain a disease free environment, so that the grapes can grow on their native rootstocks rather than grafted onto disease resistant rootstock. For the whites, the fruit is whole cluster pressed, the juice settles for 48 hours before racking and the wines are fermented at 60 degrees in stainless steel to dryness after which SO2 is added and the temperature is reduced to 40 degrees. After racking, the wines are filtered and bottled in screw cap. The red grapes are sorted, destemmed and whole cluster pressed. The must is gently transferred to six-ton stainless steel tanks and one-ton stainless steel fermentors. Various extraction techniques including pump overs and rack and returns are used during fermentation. After fermentation, the must is pressed and allowed to settle for 48 hours before being transferred to oak barrels. Three different types of barrels are used (60% French, 30% American, and 10% Eastern European) and on average 25%-30% of the barrels are new. After malolactic, the wines are racked twice, blended, aged in barrel and racked every three months up until bottling.
|As the name suggests, our family estate has historical ties to aviation! To find out more about the WWII airbase that resided on our property, see the sections below:
The official story:
Just prior to the United States entry into World War II, the Olympic Air Transport Company contacted our founder, H. Lloyd Miller, about the possibility of leasing land from him for a period of a few years in order to build an airbase to train military pilots. Lloyd, a successful realtor and landowner, knew it would be several years before the arrival of Roza irrigation water so he agreed to lease out his property.
Construction of the airbase commenced in the latter part of 1941. The buildings erected on the site included a 70 foot water tower, several airplane hangars, a mess hall, barracks, and several smaller storage buildings. Three dirt runways were also formed, each of which was over a half mile long. The pilots trained primarily on bi-winged Stearman Airplanes.
The airbase continued operations until the mid 1940’s. Shortly after WWII came to an end, the pilots moved off site and the recently constructed buildings were auctioned off to the highest bidder. The only bidder turned out to be H. Lloyd Miller, and it is said that he got one heck of a deal on all the buildings. These unique buildings became the headquarters of the Miller family’s farming operations up to today. Over time, many of the buildings began to deteriorate, but two of the original hangars still exist and we continue to use them as workshop and storage facilities.
The unofficial story is that the military airbase had ulterior motives. It was not just designed for training pilots. During the war years, there were six small airbases that made a horseshoe pattern around Hanford Reach. These bases were located near Moxee, Ephrata, Connell, Othello, Richland, and “Airfield’s” base in Sunnyside. These bases were strategically located around Hanford Reach in order to conduct surveillance over the highly classified Hanford Nuclear Reservation that was refining plutonium for the atomic bombs that would eventually be dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The airbase also provided potential defense if we came under attack because the runways were long enough to allow for the landing of larger fighter and attack aircrafts. Although these are just rumors, they do make a lot of sense.