White Pine Winery
Sandy and Dave Miller love the State of Michigan and have made a commitment to spend their time and effort here to produce world class wines for all to enjoy. Dave grew up in and around South Bend, Indiana where he learned to love the great outdoors and the natural world that surrounds us. During his Baccalaureate studies, Dave worked on a BS in Biology with a specialty in Plant Ecology and Botany at Ball State University. Upon graduation in 1982, unable to find meaningful work near home during the great “Rust Belt Recession” he decided to move to Colorado and enjoy the winter working at a ski resort. It was during this Ski Bum period that Dave discovered the popularity of wine among the skiers who frequented the slopes in Summit County. A light bulb went on and Dave decided to continue his studies with pursuit of a MS degree in the Horticulture Department at Michigan State University. He worked with the legendary Dr. Stan Howell who is one of the preeminent viticulturists in North America. Dave fell under Stan’s spell and accepted a job as his technician upon completion of his MS degree which focused on grapevine cold hardiness. During the next twelve years Dave produced the research wines at Spartan Cellar’s, MSU’s research winery, and managed the research plots, and graduate student projects with Stan. The last four years of Dave’s tenure at MSU culminated in his PhD degree which he earned while working as Stan’s technician. Dave’s PhD focused on grapevine photosynthesis and how crop level influenced fruit and wine quality.
Dave looked for a position as a grapevine research scientist but none were available. A position was offered from Clemson University for a peach tree researcher and then came the offer from St. Julian for an assistant winemaker. The decision to leave academia was difficult but Dave’s love of grapes and wine prevailed and he accepted the challenge of raising the status of Southwest Michigan’s grape and wine industry through his work as a winemaker and viticulturist at Michigan’s oldest and largest winery. Change comes slowly in the wine industry. One must wait four years after planting a vineyard for the first crop, then another 6 months to bottle white wines and another 12 to 18 months to bottle reds. However there was great interest in and support for his work at the winery and the changes came, slowly at first, then with increasing speed. The awards given to wines produced from new plantings made under Dave’s direction were numerous.