Jun 22, 2012 11:36 PM by Jeanette Trompeter
We hear a lot about Central coast wines, and festivals celebrating them around here. But there's one varietal that doesn't get a lot of play, and yet, kind of helped put the central coast on the wine country map. And it's getting it's due this weekend. It's also more proof, There's No Place Like Home.
One of the the most noted vineyards on the central coast sits just to the east of highway 101 in the Santa Maria valley. Yet you may not recognize the name among the labels on your wine shelves. That's because it's not the wine that's produced in this historic valley that has made it noteworthy, it's the grapes the Miller family grows here that wineries all over clamour for.
Nicholas Miller is Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Bien Nacido Vineyards. "My brother and I are fifth generation farmers here in California and so we certainly think of ourselves as growers first and foremost." His brother Marshall Miller is Vice President of Finance and Operations. They are carrying on a long family farming tradition. "Our great, great grandfather came to California in the 1880s for his health and lived down in Ventura county."
Their grandparents moved to the Santa Maria Valley in the 60's to farm and decided to try grapes in the early 70's at Bien Nacido. "It was their son's, my father and my uncle who decided they thought grapes had a future in this valley. It was a little bit naïve and it was very aspirational, but it's worked out." he says.
It certainly did. Their father Stephen Miller was just named one of the 100 most influential people in the farming industry. He still farms lemons and avocados in Ventura and Santa Maria as well as grapes. And the grapes from Bien Nacido put the Central Coast in the spotlight regularly. "We've been very fortunate in the last couple years. We were recognized as one of the top 25 vineyards of the world by wine spirits magazine, we were awarded the California state vineyard of the year last year at the California state fair." says Nicholas.
They do it right, and they credit some of their success on the perfect climate in this picturesque piece of property. "We probably have the longest growing region of anywhere in the state." says Nicholas. "So we're picking Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in September then getting a couple more months to get Syrah that needs more heat ripe to pick in November."
Napa and Sonoma may get more attention than the Santa Maria valley but the truth is they've been using grapes off Bien Nacido Vineyards for years.
You may not see a lot of Bien Nacido wines on store shelves, but inside the historic adobe on the property you see just how many wines have Bien Nacido grapes in them. And the vineyard prominently displayed right below the winery name on the label. Because it's always nice to be associated with the best in the world. And when it comes to grapes, some of them are right in our own backyard.