The Crush October 2022 - 9

CAWG Members Honored
Wine Enthusiast's 2022 Wine Star Awards
Wine Executive of the Year
Nicholas Miller, Miller Family Wine Company
There was nothing textbook about how the Miller family evolved from
being primarily an agricultural company family on California's Central
Coast into managing nearly a dozen brands and partnerships, from
luxury-level estate bottlings to nationally distributed retail lines and
even a stunningly successful no-alcohol wine.
" We started backward, " admits Nicholas Miller, who is the chief sales
& marketing officer and executive vice president of the Miller Family
Wine Company. " We had an upside-down pyramid. "
The Millers, who got into the grape business in the early 1970s after a
century of growing lemons and avocados in Ventura County, already
owned more than 2,000 acres of vineyards and large production facilities
by the time they ventured into winemaking about 15 years ago.
But their business model was selling grapes-from Bien Nacido and
Solomon Hills in the Santa Maria Valley and French Camp in Paso Robles-and leasing out processing space, where
dozens of now-famous wineries launched their brands.
" We were doing everything except making our own wine, " explains Miller, who's the fifth generation in the business
along with his brother, Marshall Miller. " That's the front-row seat to telling your own story and marketing the grapes
you're growing. "
Person of the Year
Jeff O'Neill, O'Neill Vintners & Distillers
After building Golden State Vintners into the country's fourth largest winery, taking it public and then selling it, Marin
County native Jeff O'Neill founded O'Neill Vintners & Distillers in 2004. It's steadily grown into the 10th largest winery
in America, with 13 nationally distributed brands and two dozen private-label wines-all amounting to more than
seven million cases produced annually.
" We basically brought coastal winemaking techniques to the Central Valley, " says O'Neill of the value-minded wines
he makes primarily in Parlier, California. " We're trying to please many consumers rather than a few upper luxury consumers. "
a philosophy of " no drama, " he's proud of treating people
right. In an industry still dominated by white males, almost half of
O'Neill's 350 employees are female, 40 of them in executive-level
roles. Alongside former NFL star (and Intercept vintner) Charles
Woodson, O'Neill started four-year scholarships for BIPOC students
at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo and Sonoma State. And this year, O'Neill
Vintners became a certified B Corporation, putting transparency, charity
and equity above the bottom line.
O'Neill's sustainability initiatives may change the entire industry.
He installed enough solar panels to power the company's bottling,
cooperage and storage operations and created the country's largest
worm-powered wastewater treatment system in the wine industry.
He's testing the effects of large-scale regenerative farming at Robert
Hall Winery in Paso Robles, which he purchased six years ago, and
just launched ingredient-labeling on his Harken Chardonnay. By 2024,
100% of the grapes that they purchase from more than 200 farmers across 15,000 acres of vineyard will be certified as
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The Crush October 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Crush October 2022

The Crush October 2022 - 1
The Crush October 2022 - 2
The Crush October 2022 - 3
The Crush October 2022 - 4
The Crush October 2022 - 5
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The Crush October 2022 - 10