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I have the great opportunity to live all sorts of agriculture.  At home, The Farmer and I raise hogs, corn, soybeans and wheat. But when I go to my off-farm job, I get to promote vineyards and wineries!

I don’t grow grapes. I honestly don’t think I have the patience for a crop that takes three years to develop and can be gone in an instant if you experience a hail storm or one hard freeze after the vines have budded out.

But I respect the wineries efforts! It’s hard to grow grapes!

I reached out to Erik Miller, who owns Kokomo Winery in Healdsburg, California.  Kokomo Winery is one of my favorite California wineries!! And they make fantastic wine.

Unfortunetly, I didn’t hear back from Erik in time to write this blog.  But I know Erik and I know he would want me to tell you about his winery.  So I visited www.kokomowines.com, and pulled information from my visit to his winery a few years ago, along with his many visits to Purdue University to share his winemaking experience, to provide you this information.

Photo from Kokomo winery Facebook page

Originally from Kokomo, Indiana, Erik had always dreamed of moving west. After graduating from Purdue University in 1999, with a degree in Organizational, Leadership, and Supervision, he set his sights on Sonoma County in order to pursue his dreams. “I traded in the soybeans and cornfields for the brighter skies, rolling hills and vineyards”, Erik said. “With my Midwestern values, I approached the new territory with a promise to always treat the farmers and business the same – with respect.”

Erik had his first opportunity to make an impression as a wine professional while working crush at Belvedere Winery in the Russian River Valley. Starting at ground level as a cellar worker, there was an immediate connection to the industry. After working that first harvest, Erik decided to enroll at U.C. Davis to study Oenology and learn from the best in the field. During the time he was attending classes, he met Rick Hutchinson, owner and winemaker of Amphora Winery, and was offered a full-time cellar worker position.
 

While handling his duties in the cellar, Erik began Kokomo Winery with a 2004 single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Dry Creek Valley. In naming his new venture, the winemaker decided to pay homage to his Indiana hometown. In 

 

2005 Erik brought on his best friend and college roommate, Josh Bartels, to assist with the new winery’s second vintage. With Josh on board, the two upped production and increased the product line. After the 2006 harvest, Kokomo Winery moved into its own facility at Timber Crest Farms in Dry Creek Valley.

In 2008 Erik brought on his partner in the winery, Randy Peters, who is a fourth generation farmer in Dry Creek Valley.  “Having a partner who grows in three appellations in Sonoma County really completed the loop for us and ensures consistency in quality and terrior”

Kokomo Winery’s Pauline’s Vineyard

Photo provide by Kokomo Winery’s Facebook page

 

Erik has remained true to Purdue and Indiana.  He visits the West Lafayette campus at least

twice a year.  He speaks to a Wine Appreciation class of 350 students about his winery, winemaking and his love of Purdue!

Photo from Kokomo winery Facebook page

 

 

 

 

 

 

He also serves as a judge at the INDY International Wine Competition, one of the largest wine competitions in the country and held every August at Purdue.

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Erik’s wines are some of the best wines I’ve had from

California.  And I think he is one of the nicest winemakers I’ve met!

If you have a chance to visit California wine country, please visit Erik Miller.  His vineyards are outstanding and he makes wonderful wines. But take money.  You’ll want to buy a few bottles to take home with you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeanette from FenceRow to FenceRow

4th generation family hog & grain farmer, The Farmer's wife, Mom of three farmkids (my Panda, Monkey and Lion Cub), wine promoter, woman of great faith and marathon runner