We all love the wines made here in Dry Creek Valley, but how much do you know about the people behind the wines and vines? This month, we put the spotlight on Erik Miller, owner and winemaker of Kokomo Winery. One of the many winemakers in Dry Creek Valley, we asked him a few questions to get behind why he chose to start his winery here, and what makes Dry Creek Valley so special.
Q: What inspired/led you to become a winemaker?
A: I was offered an opportunity to work harvest as a seasonal intern at Belvedere Winery in 2002. After getting to work side by side with the winemaker and seeing what happens during crush I knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life! The diversity of the job, the artistic expression of being a winemaker, and the agriculture component of making a product that represented a particular piece of land was a perfect fit for me.
Q: What’s your earliest wine memory?
A: My earliest wine memory was in high school drinking Boone’s farm strawberry hill wine (please don’t tell anyone). I jokingly tell people that I did not grow up with wine on the dining table- it was milk instead! I believe that it is an Indiana thing.
Q: You’re from Kokomo, Indiana. What brought you to Dry Creek Valley/what made you choose this location to start your own winery?
A: While I was in college at Purdue, I came out west one year for spring break and I spent some time in Sonoma County. From that moment I had it in my head that this will be the place that I will move when I graduate. I stuck to that dream and moved after graduating. As far as Dry Creek Valley goes, I was offered a cellar job by Rick Hutchinson of Amphora Winery in 2004 in the valley. I got to know some of the folks who have lived here for generations and it seemed like a very natural fit for me. The people of Dry Creek Valley are very salt of the earth people and they take pride in hard work, protecting their valley, and above all the quality of fruit that come from this area. For me one of the main attractions to Dry Creek Valley is the diversity of varietals that do so well here. Making up to 13 different varietals at Kokomo, it is a true blessing to be in a valley that is sandwiched in between a world class Pinot Noir appellation (Russian River Valley) and a world class Cabernet Sauvignon appellation (Alexander Valley).
Q: What characteristics of Dry Creek Valley do you feel are most present in Kokomo Wines?
A: I feel like the biggest characteristic of Dry Creek Valley in our wines is the consistent quality year in and year out. Even with vintage differences that are apparent in our wines the quality from the appellation is the dominating character.
Q: The holidays are upon us, and many people don’t know how to pick a special wine for the occasion. Any tips?
A: I think most folks know how to pick a wine for the holiday season if it fits their budget. The best advice I could give would be to not over think pairings because the variety of foods on the holiday table are too diverse to try to nail down specific pairings. Overall my philosophy is that wine goes with food and food is complemented by wine. It will add to the overall experience of any meal and help people to slow down and recognize flavors and nuances of their meal.
Thanks, Erik!Kokomo Winery 4791 Dry Creek Rd Healdsburg, CA 95448 (707) 433-0200 FACEBOOK TWITTER WEBSITE