Sonoma County region
Extremely selective in choosing the best possible grapes for his various wines
Nestled in the emerald hills of beautiful Dry Creek Valley, Kokomo Winery prides itself on making small production, single-vineyard wines from Dry Creek and the Russian River Valley. With a terroir-driven philosophy in mind, owner Erik Miller teams up with his best friend Josh Bartels to make wines as individual and unique as the vineyards they were born from.
Originally from Kokomo, Indiana, Miller had always dreamed of moving west and after graduating from Purdue University in 1999, he set his sights on Sonoma County to pursue his dreams. With a degree in Organization, Leadership, and Supervision, Miller first dabbled in business and financial planning, but quickly found it was not the path for him. He took a chance working the harvest at nearby Belvedere Winery and never looked back.
Taken under the wing of Belvedere winemaker Troy McEnery, Miller immediately fell in love with the wine industry and knew this was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. It wasn’t discovering that rare glass of Burgundy, and it wasn’t after touring the majestic wineries of Bordeaux; but instead, it was the manual labor, the time spent in the vineyard, the work in the cellar, the creativity, the chemistry, and everything in between. It was the whole winemaking experience that drew Miller to discover his true passion.
Immediately following that harvest at Belvedere, Miller enrolled in eonology classes at nearby UC Davis and came in contact with Amphora Winery owner Rick Hutchinson in 2003. Hutchinson offered Miller a full-time cellar worker position. The transition from a large-scale 100,000 case winery to a tiny 2,500 case winery was a refreshing change for Miller, and he embraced the rustic, boutique winery atmosphere.
In 2004, Miller was offered some Cabernet Sauvignon from Mounts Vineyard and he decided to experiment with his own winemaking. Hutchinson allowed him to use Amphora’s winery space, and Miller was on his way. That bottling marked his first release and Kokomo Winery was born.
Kokomo was named for Miller’s hometown in Indiana, although many assume it refers to a certain Beach Boys song. The coastal cypress tree on the wine label was chosen to signify his move out west.
For the second vintage of Kokomo wines, Miller called on his best friend from Purdue, Josh Bartels, to come out and help. Bartels had worked in a local wine shop while in Indiana and shared Millers’ growing passion and knowledge for fine wines. The offer to move out west and be a part of the new venture was too hard to pass up, and Bartels became Kokomo’s assistant winemaker.
With Bartels on board, the two upped production and expanded on the wines being made. Following the 2006 harvest, they were able to move Kokomo Winery into its own facility at Timber Crest Farms in Dry Creek Valley. The site was home to a 150 acre vineyard that had been farmed by Randy Peters since 1974, and showed serious potential for the growing boutique winery.
Peters eventually became a partner in Kokomo Winery in 2008, creating a great opportunity for Miller to have a stable source of premium grapes, and also giving Peters the chance to break into the winery business as he’d always dreamed of. Having farmed the land for so long and knowing the different blocks and soil types, Peters chooses the Kokomo vineyard rows accordingly and secures the best fruit for their allocation.
Kokomo Winery currently produces between 5,000 and 6,000 cases of mostly Zinfandel, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir, with smaller amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Petite Sirah. The wines are produced exclusively from Randy Peters’ vineyard sites within Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma Coast, and Alexander Valley appellations. With their partnership, Miller has the opportunity to be extremely selective in choosing the best possible grapes for his various wines.
Now entering its eighth year of production, Kokomo Winery has joined the elite boutique wineries of Sonoma County and gains more 90+ ratings and Gold Medals with each anticipated release. Not bad for someone who just 10 years ago participated in his first harvest! We invite you to enjoy Kokomo’s latest achievement, as they are truly a producer to watch. Cheers!
About the Vineyard
The grapes for this lovely Kokomo 2008 Pinot Noir come from Randy Peters’ own site, Peters Vineyard, in the western Sonoma Coast appellation. Just 15 miles from the coast with consistent fog and cool sea breezes, Peters Vineyard is the perfect location for producing Pinot Noir. The fruit is allowed long growing seasons and extended hang time, promoting fully developed fruit loaded with complexity and bright flavors.
The Sonoma Coast appellation contains more than 500,000 acres, mostly along the coastline of the Pacific Ocean. Extending from San Pablo Bay down to the border of Mendocino County, the appellation has a broad range of microclimates, but is known overall for its cooler climate and higher rainfall. Some of the state’s best Pinot Noirs come from this world-class region.
Erik Miller - Owner & Winemaker
Erik has a specific philosophy when it comes to crafting his award-winning wines, and his enthusiasm for the land and terroir of his vineyards is readily evident. Miller's goal at Kokomo is to make wines that, rather than leave his mark, show the distinct terroir, character, and flavor from where they are from. With an emphasis on single vineyard wines, Miller utilizes small production techniques and his relationships with the growers to craft wines that are outstanding and unique.
At Kokomo, Miller is all about balance. He wants his wines to be enjoyable on their own, but also with food; he wants wines that can be cellared and aged, but also excellent while they are young; and he wants wines that have enough acidity, but also show the varietal character with enough flavor and complexity that sets them apart.
His attitude and passion for the industry is so genuine and refreshing, that it is easy to see why Kokomo Winery has garnered the success and reputation it holds today.