Chris Millard’s bike tour through the wine regions of France during high school would ultimately lead to his career as a winemaker. In college, Chris started as an unenthusiastic Computer Science major, then parlayed his analytical skills to an industry more aligned with his passion for wine. He went on to major in Enology at Fresno State University. Chris’ first job after college was at Bernardus winery, starting in the cellar and ending his 4-year tenure there as Assistant Winemaker. In 1998, he left to manage Bridlewood before moving on to Sterling in June 2000. Chris joined Newton Vineyard in May 2008 – an interesting parallel given that Peter and Su Hua Newton founded Sterling vineyards in the 1960’s and sold it before creating Newton Vineyard in 1977. While at Sterling, Chris discovered an appreciation for mountain terroir working with their Diamond
Mountain Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon. At Newton’s Spring Mountain Estate, Chris is located on the same Mayacamas mountain range that defines Napa Valley’s eastern border and can leverage his expertise with intensely concentrated mountain fruit.
As Newton Winemaker, Chris continues the legacy of producing the winery’s highly acclaimed wines, including the Unfiltered Chardonnay and its Bordeaux-style red wines from the estate on Spring Mountain in St. Helena. “Newton Vineyard is a very special place,” he says. “The rugged terrain can be difficult to cultivate, but the purity and intensity of flavors in fruit from this estate are great. All of the 112 vineyard blocks are different; each one becomes a unique component that helps create the final composition. Even with a single varietal, I have a lot of options for blending, which helps me make a more interesting wine.” Newton's custom-built winery was carved into the hillside property and designed to create an ideal palette for blending distinctive wines. For Newton's award-winning Chardonnay, Chris maximizes the eight separate galleries in the Chardonnay cave by grouping similar barrel lots together to allow for optimal fermentation of individual batches. To craft Newton's acclaimed red wines, he takes advantage of the winery's small tanks to keep the fruit from each vineyard block separate before artfully blending them to create the final Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Bordeaux-blend red wines. In addition to making and enjoying fine wine, Chris has uncovered a passion for coffee, going so far as to roast his own beans at home. This artisanal hobby hones his winemaking skill because like wine, coffee offers the refined palate a variety of aromas and flavors to savor. He also spends free time woodworking, allowing him to express his art-meets-science craftsmanship in another arena. Chris is married to his high school sweetheart, Christina, and the couple has two children.
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