As Erin Miller was preparing to go into the Peace Corps, she took a detour that would change her life. “I was on my way to Niger, West Africa and I wanted to work down some of my student loan debt before becoming a volunteer for 2 ½ years. I heard about a harvest job in Napa, and I thought, what better way to earn a little money than by working 12 hours a day, 6 days a week as a harvest cellar rat?” But in working that harvest job Erin discovered “the sheer joy of winemaking,” and when she returned from Africa, she pieced together her love of agriculture, the outdoors and winemaking, and determined to make her career in wine.
After earning her Masters of Science from U.C. Davis, Erin headed to France, working as a vineyard and cellar intern at Domaine de Coume delMas in Banyuls-sur-mer and then Domaine Rene Lequin-Colin in Santenay. In France Erin was taken with the concept of the “vigneron,” the idea that the winemaker is also intimately involved in the vineyard. “We tend to separate those two things here in the U.S., but I love the idea of bringing them together, of that seamless transition from vineyard and grapes to wine and ultimately, to the table.”
That philosophy has guided Erin throughout her career. Upon her return to the U.S. in 2006 she took a position as Viticultural Enologist for Kendall-Jackson’s Vinwood Cellars’ Bordeaux Program, and in 2007 moved to an enologist position at Hartford Family Winery in Forestville, CA. In 2010 she joined Provingage Wine Associates, managing wines for four luxury wineries and working as the Oregon Assistant Winemaker and California Winemaker for Evening Land Vineyards. Each position afforded Erin the opportunity to work both in the vineyards and the winery, and she worked closely with her vineyard manager counterparts to increase quality through fruit load and canopy management and overall vine monitoring and observation.
In 2014 Erin joined Twomey Cellars as Winemaker, a move that allows her to continue her work with vineyard-driven wines crafted to express a distinct sense of place. She spends much of her time working in Twomey’s Pinot Noir vineyards in Sonoma, Mendocino and Santa Barbara counties, as well as its Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc vineyards in Napa Valley.
“At Twomey I’m drawing on the excellence that has been established while refining the wines to develop an even greater sense of place,” she says. “For me, wine is an attempt to capture a time and place in the bottle. It is the prism we look through to the past while enjoying the present.”