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Miner Family Winery

Paso Robles AVA

Crafting the high-end Reserve-type wines that are for the most part vineyard-designated

Bob Miner, while attending a French language class in Paris, met his wife Mary. The two were married in Paris in 1969, then shortly after moved to Maryland where Bob began working for IBM. A few years later he quit IBM to work for technology giant, Ampex Corporation in San Francisco. It was at Ampex in the early 1970s where Bob Miner met up with Larry Ellison. A research paper on the concept of relational databases had just been published which piqued the two friend’s interest. Using this new concept as a basis, they theorized they could bring a usable product to market years quicker than behemoth IBM. They teamed up with two other ex-IBM’ers and founded Oracle. As you may be aware, Oracle is now the world’s second largest maker of software. And now, virtually every company in the world uses software based on the relational database concept.

The word oracle is defined as “any person reputed as uncommonly wise, and whose opinions have great weight.” We’re not sure if Bob Miner literally fits this description as we did not have the fortune to meet him before his untimely death. As co-founder of software giant Oracle and founder of highly successful Oakville Ranch Winery in the Napa Valley, seemingly, the decisions he made during his lifetime do reflect extraordinary wisdom.

The Oakville Ranch 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, and buying the 334-acre parcel 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, and 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 rather 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 the family bought an 8,500 square foot building down the road that became home to Oakville Ranch and Miner Family Winery. Miner Family wines debuted in 1999 with Cabernet, Chardonnay and Merlot at the forefront.

Winemaker Gary Brookman, is responsible for crafting the high-end Reserve-type wines that are for the most part vineyard-designated. Gary has accumulated over 25 years experience, mostly with Joseph Phelps Winery and then Franciscan Oakville Estate before joining the Miners. He has made quite a splash with the Miner Family wines, receiving numerous ratings in the 90s from the major wine industry publications over the years.

“The most significant changes in the wine industry have been in attitude, both with the consumer and the producers,” believes Gary. “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 wines today.”