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Miner Family Winery - Oakville Ranch, Napa Valley


"One of the world’s top wines released in 2001.” Master Sommelier, Madeline Triffon

It started out as a weekend getaway spot, then quietly turned into one of Napa’s shining stars. Bob and Mary Miner looked around for a couple of years before discovering, then buying the 334-acre Oakville Ranch in the Napa Valley. The fact that the property already had 60 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay vines was almost secondary to their purpose. “They primarily wanted to have a place to get away from the city, spend time relaxing, playing some tennis—that sort of thing,” explains nephew and Miner Family Winery owner, Dave Miner.

The Oakville Ranch property got its start as a winery in the early 1900s. It ceased production during Prohibition, then was converted into an executive retreat in the 1950s. It remained as such until the Miners bought the property in 1989. As an executive retreat, there was very little focus on maintaining the vineyards and the entire crop was sold off each year without much regard.

Even though starting a winery was not on the front burner, the potential of the vineyards was not lost on Bob & Mary. Given the location, the varietals and the age of the vines, just maybe they could coax some decent wine out of the ground. The fruit from the Oakville vineyard was entirely allocated to other wineries that had long-term contracts with the previous owners. So in order to get started, Bob and Mary had to sell the grapes then buy them back!

Their let’s-see-what-happens approach led not just to “decent” wine but to spectacular wine. In what was generally regarded as a disappointing year in Napa, the 1989 Oakville Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon was one of the valley’s big success stories. Gold Medals and ratings in the 90s quickly had all eyes focused on Oakville Ranch.

Tragically, in 1994 Bob Miner was diagnosed with cancer. As a result, Bob’s nephew, Dave Miner, who was working for Oracle Corp. in Houston, was brought in to help manage the winery. When Bob passed away in 1995, Dave was up to speed, ready and able to carry the torch.

In 1996 Dave Miner and his wife, Emily, along with Dave’s parents, bought a beautiful winery facility just down the road from the Oakville Ranch Vineyard. The 8,500 square foot building became home to Oakville Ranch wines as well as home for the Miner’s newly established—Miner Family wines.

Miner Family wines debuted in 1999 with Cabernet, Chardonnay and Merlot at the forefront. “These are high-end Reserve-type wines that are for the most part vineyard-designated,” says Dave. “We use the finest grapes from our own Oakville Vineyard and hand selected fruit from high-quality neighboring vineyards. We have complete control over the viticultural practices of the vineyards we’re buying from, so they are virtually our own,” he states. Production is about 19,000 cases now and is expected to remain below the 20,000 case level. Other than the big three varietals, other principal varietals include Pinot Noir, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier.

Winemaker Gary Brookman, is responsible for crafting Miner Family wines. Gary has accumulated over 20 years experience, mostly with Joseph Phelps Winery and then Franciscan Oakville Estate before joining the Miners. Besides managing the large winery facility, Gary is responsible for both the Oakville Ranch and Miner Family wines. He has made quite a splash with the Miner Family wines, receiving numerous ratings in the 90s from the major wine industry publications.

“The most significant changes in the wine industry have been in attitude, both with the consumer and the producers,” believes Gary. “Relentlessly, vintners have preached of the wonderfulness and enjoyment of wine and both Napa grape growers and winemakers have pursued techniques and ideas on how to grow great grapes and make world class wines. Finally wine drinkers have raised their glasses to applaud these efforts and signify that California and Napa Valley in particular is producing some of the finest today.”



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