Open: Year Round
H. Lloyd Miller, Airfield's founder, was a successful businessman and pioneer of the Yakima Valley. In 1909, Lloyd became a partner in the Sunnyside Land Investment Company, which was largely involved in buying and selling farm properties.Â
Just prior to the United States entry into World War II, the Olympic Air Transport Company contacted H. Lloyd Miller about the possibility of leasing land from him to build an airbase to train military pilots. Construction of the airbase commenced in the latter part of 1941. The buildings erected on the site included a 70 foot water tower, several airplane hangars, a mess hall, barracks, and several smaller storage buildings. Three dirt runways were also formed, each of which was over a half mile long. The pilots trained primarily on bi-winged Stearman Airplanes.
The airbase continued operations until the mid 1940's. Shortly after WWII came to an end, the pilots moved off site and the recently constructed buildings were auctioned off to the highest bidder. The only bidder turned out to be H. Lloyd Miller, and it is said that he got one heck of a deal on all the buildings.Â
These unique WWII buildings became the headquarters of the Miller family's farming operations up to today. In the area surrounding the airbase, Lloyd began clearing the land, installing water delivery systems, and shifting his assets from his older Sunnyside Valley farms to the new Roza farm, which he named Airport Ranch. Lloyd's son, Don, soon returned home after serving in the war and became a partner in the new family business.
Initially, the prime focus was livestock. The earliest plantings consisted of alfalfa and grains. These crops helped add organic content to the soils and began to alter the soil structure. Over the next few decades, the focus of the business shifted to agronomic crops, such as sugar beets, corn, asparagus, beans, and mint.
The first wine grapes were planted in 1968 by Don Miller. Like so many other local farmers, Don was persuaded to plant wine grapes by WSU research scientist Dr. Walter Clore, who is regarded as the "Father of Washington Wine."Â
Don visited the Napa Valley, and the staff at Freemark Abbey was of significant help to him in the procurement of heat-treated, certified, virus-free plant material from Napa nurseries. Those first vines were planted the following spring. The planting covered 3 acres and consisted of 4 different varieties (Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Riesling).Â
In 1971, Don decided to make his first commercial plantings. The vines were planted on a 10 acre parcel of ground. The varieties consisted of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and White Riesling. After a period of observation and at least one hard winter, Don had decided that those 3 varieties had the highest likelihood of success. In those early years, most of our markets were across the border in Canada. The wine grapes, although planted on a commercial scale, were still secondary to our four main cash crops (sugar beets, spearmint, peppermint, and asparagus).
The first large scale planting, headed by Mike Miller (Don's son), took place in 1978. It consisted of 71 acres of White Riesling. The following year, we planted 25 acres of Merlot. Over the years, Mike Miller continued to plant grapevines. Today, we have approximately 950 acres of wine grapes consisting of 27 different varietals.
In 2007, Mike Miller, along with his son Marcus and daughter Lori, estblished Airfield Estates Winery in Prosser. Marcus heads up the winemaking and Lori manages the marketing and tasting room.Â
As you step through the doors of the Airfield's Prosser Tasting Room, you step back in time to the 1940s. The winery was built to resemble the old WWII airplane hangars that were once located on the Miller's family farm. As you enter the tasting room, you are greeted to the tunes of 1940's Big Band Music, and you can feel free to browse the historical photos and remnants that are on display. The Miller family established a Tasting Room in Woodinville in 2010, and currently, they are in the process of building a new Production Facility on the farm near Sunnyside, WA. If all goes according to plan, it will be up and running by the 2014 Harvest Season.
Thursday, Jun 24, 2021 at 6:00pm Pacific Time
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Friday, Jun 25, 2021 at 2:00pm Eastern Time
Monday, Jun 28, 2021 at 11:00am Eastern Time
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