Miller Wine Works Two Tales of Passion
Miller Wine Works owner, Gary Miller, has led of a life of different careers that seemed safe and suitable (from engineer to financial planner); however, like many natural born dreamers, Gary came to the conclusion desk life wasn’t for him. This realization led to a ride of discovery and, finally, after becoming a lunch cook in a hotel, Gary found his love for food.
After attending The Culinary Institute of America in New York, Gary began his long career as a successful chef, eventually leading to Executive Sous Chef at Spruce Restaurant in Chicago - named Esquire Magazine National Restaurant of the Year in 1994. During Gary’s passionate career of food, wine became a very prominent part of his life (after all, they’re symbiotic).
In 1998, Gary moved to Napa and started working in the wine industry. “I woke up one day and thought, If I were ever going to make wine, this would be the obvious time to do it,” Gary said.
In the year 2000, Gary formed Miller Wine Works in Napa and started sourcing grapes from Napa, Sonoma and the Shenandoah Valley.
“Amador County was different then, much less developed, akin to what Napa looked like 40 years ago. Over the past 18 years it has grown significantly.”
A Passionate Pairing
Thirteen years later, Gary moved the Miller Wine Works Tasting Room to Amador County and opened a tasting room in downtown Sutter Creek. When the local Sutter Creek Cheese Shoppe went up for sale, Gary couldn’t resist combining two of his favorite things - wine and food. Subsequently, the tasting room and the cheese shoppe operation were merged almost 3 years ago, and both now reside at 33 Main Street.
Gary’s philosophy is not just about what tastes good, it’s about manifesting a distinct experience with each sip and bite. “Part of the job is to educate and show people something new. I don’t try to tell them what they are tasting, but rather give them an opportunity to find what they like. There are a myriad of different possibilities and combinations. There truly is something new around every corner...if you look. Everyone marches to their own drum, and there really are no wrong answers.”
“Just like with food, not everyone’s tastes preferences are the same with wine. Make wine that YOU like. That way, stylistically you make the same wine(s) every vintage, and you satisfy the consistent expectations of the people that enjoy your wine, and share something you truly love.”
The backwards L in the Miller Wine Works logo pays tribute to Gary’s childhood love of trains with his grandfather. After building a model train layout, Gary’s grandfather added “Miller” to the model, but because of the way it had to be hung, the “L” in Miller looked backwards. From a marketing perspective it has turned out to be pure gold!
Fun tip: Check out the photo at the wine bar of Gary as a child with his toy trains!