Published on 30-04-2024
The Miller House at Frank Family Vineyards
Blends Vineyard Views with Outstanding Hospitality

Napa’s “Hollywood Meets Wine Country” darling, Frank Family Vineyards, was born in 1993, when longtime Disney and Paramount executive, Rich Frank, purchased the old Larkmead Winery property on Larkmead Lane. Somehow, 30 years transpired, and during that time, Rich met Leslie Miller – an Emmy-winning, Canadian-born broadcast journalist with a stellar career in reporting, including as a TV news anchor at top rated KACB in Los Angeles. They fell in love, both with each other and with Napa, acquired over 380 acres of premium vineyard properties (Lewis, Winston, Benjamin and S&J), hired winemaker Todd Graff in 2003 (Artesa, Stag’s Leap, and Schramsberg), and grew the brand into a formidable store shelf presence and a destination in Napa Valley.


The Miller House at Frank Family Vineyards

Wanting to commemorate this big anniversary, and also to create a special space for people to celebrate all of life’s occasions, including your average Tuesday afternoon, Leslie Miller Frank envisioned and then manifested The Miller House. It happens to be on the very spot where Leslie and Rich were married, between the old yellow farmhouse that serves as the Frank Family tasting room, and the surrounding vineyard.

Working together with architect, Howard Backen, and Napa-based interior designer, Robin Beck of Hawkins Interiors, the stunning 2300-square-foot architectural statement came to life. Its enormous floor-to-ceiling walls of glass slide open to let in both the light and the outdoors. Fireplaces both inside and out, with the indoor one surrounded by cognac leather sofas, add to the ambience on chillier days. When the weather is balmy, birdsong abounds, as you taste in the capacious outdoor area, beneath white awnings, surrounded by the abundant green of the vineyards. Inside, the custom tables were lovingly made from recycle ashwood by Leslie’s brother in Canada. The place has a modern farmhouse feel that marries perfectly with farmhouse, and the older stone winery, which dates to 1884.

The Miller House at Frank Family Vineyards

Hospitality Director, Liam Gearity, a Midwest-born, Hollywood transplant – lured by Leslie and Rich to work for them in Napa – leads the tastings at The Miller House, and is a master of describing wines and their provenance. With his documentarian elocution, he weaves in all the rich historical details of the property, from its Larkmead roots to the story of Rich’s own father, who gave up a baseball career to serve in the Army during WWII. He survived Omaha Beach and went on to drive trucks through Europe carrying oil for Patton’s tanks.


Frank Family wines

A Tasting Journey

The tasting experiences here at The Miller House vary with the seasons, but  generally begin with sparkling, as Todd Graff is a master of bubbles. During a recent visit, we enjoyed a plate of pairings to accompany several of the special wines accessible to club members, including the 2016 Blanc de Blancs, a classic lemon peel and fresh ginger-laced sparkler, made of 100-percent Chardonnay from the Lewis Vineyard in Carneros. It was paired with Marin French Petite Supreme Brie: a superbly unfussy combo, but it might also be accompanied by a homemade yeasted blini with caviar and crème fraiche.

Gearity also poured us the 2021 Lewis Vineyard Chardonnay, a heady mélange of orange blossoms, lemon cream and mango, aged for 11 months in 100% new French oak barrels. The lively Meyer lemon acidity keeps it fresh as the afternoon breezes that grace Carneros, and made it sing nicely with Cypress Grove Lamb Chopper and a 24-month aged Comte.

To provide a contrast of flavor and texture, Gearity had the kitchen drizzle basil pesto and olive oil on the plates, which also included Marcona almonds and some lovely finocchio salami (made with fennel, a digestive aid), as well as braciola for pairing with the heavy reds. He encouraged tasting the different cheeses with and without the pesto along with each wine, just for fun. After all, that’s the whole idea.
Our first red, the 2019 RHF Rutherford Cabernet, named for Rich (Richard Harvey Frank), delivers bold, unmistakably Napa flavors, including blackberry, boysenberry, peppery cocoa with a hint of savory earth. We next tasted the 2019 Winston Hill Cabernet, a big-boned wine, with expansive black currant and chocolate covered caramel flavors from the first vineyard Frank purchased in 1990, and where the couple has made their home. Both wines are tuned with a bit of Merlot, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot, making them more accessible in their youth.

We finished with the 2019 Patriarch, a 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, first made in 2012 to celebrate Rich’s father, Hy, who was turning 96 at the time. Graff selected the best Cabernet grapes from Winston Hill to make a wine fit to honor the man Rich admired so much. This was paired with some savory macarons, laced with bits of lavender and bacon: definitely not your preconception of macarons.
As Gearity says, be open minded and enjoy the journey.

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Keeping it Green

Solar panels are currently being installed on the roof of the winery building, which will enable the winery to provide all of its own energy needs. Certified a Napa Green winery since 2014, Frank Family has been sourcing energy from 100% renewables since 2022, but onsite solar will allow the winery to be grid-independent.

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Miller House Elevated Experience

The exploration of food and wine offered at The Miller House is ideal for private groups (minimum 12 guests) or for guests (groups of 2 to 6) who enjoy meeting others with shared interests in food and wine. The Miller House Elevated Experience is available for booking online, at $100 per guest, and $60 per club member. The outdoor patio serves as a club-exclusive lounge, providing complimentary tastings for members and their guests every Friday and Saturday. Reservations can be made online at FrankFamilyVineyards.com. Private event inquiries can be made at FrankFamilyVineyards.com/Private-Events.

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