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Milliaire grows alongside Murphys wine scene

Milliaire Winery likes to say they are pushing the limits of wine-making one barrel at a time. For the family run winery, pushing the limits started by setting up shop in a relatively unknown wine region and making wines that would come solely from the harvests of the Sierra foothills, including a concentration on the emerging White Zinfandel trend.

Founded by Steve and Liz Millier, Milliaire Winery is truly a family business with Steve handling the wine-making and Liz running the sales and marketing operations. Their children, Robert and Catherine, grew up in the business and have now made it their careers as well, with Robert now assisting his father in the wine-making process and Catherine operating the Black Sheep tasting room, which the winery purchased in 2007. Robert’s wife Jana manages the Milliaire tasting room, located at 276 Main St., in Murphys.

The Milliers moved to Murphys in 1982 to help with the burgeoning Stevenot winery. In this rolling and rural land, the husband and wife found something growing other than grapes. It was a speck of inspiration that they could tap the potential of the area and launch their own winery. Within a year they rolled out their first vintage that was cellared in their basement and consisted of three barrels of Cabernet Sauvignon under the Milliaire label.

In 1990, the Milliers pushed the limits again by converting an old gas station into a tasting room. With barrels in the repair bays and wine tanks in the backyard, the place was dubbed the Roadside Chateau and has been drawing crowds ever since.

As the Milliaire label was taking root, the winery launched a tradition that continues to delight wine enthusiasts 30 years later. The “Christmas Cuvee” tradition began in 1986 when Steve took 55 gallons of trained of juice and fermented it into a blush wine just in time for the holidays. Now each new vintage of their White Zinfandel is first labeled "Christmas Cuvee" and is released each year just prior to Thanksgiving.

Milliaire Winery produces seven varieties of white wine and 14 types of red. Their 2010 Ghirardelli Zinfandel, which comes from a 110-year-old vineyard deep in the heart of Calaveras County, won Gold at the 2013 California State Fair and recently took silver at the san Francisco Chronicle Win Competition.

The Milliaire Tasting Room is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily in downtown Murphys. For more information, visit

or call (209) 728-1658.