Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
 
09.11.2008  
 

Mark Miller, Wine Pioneer, Dies at 89

Artist and founder of New York's Benmarl Vineyards

 
by Hudson Cattell
 
 
Mark Miller, Benmarl Vineyards
 
Mark Miller in the Benmarl Vineyards high above the Hudson River in 1977.
 
Wilmington, N.C. -- Mark Miller, a noted magazine illustrator and the founder of Benmarl Vineyards in Marlboro, N.Y., died at the age of 89 on Sept. 9 in Wilmington, N.C., after a long illness. He was one of the last of the pioneers of the wine industry in the eastern United States.

Born in Eldorado, Okla., on Jan. 2, 1919, he had a long career as an artist that culminated in the 1950s and 1960s, when he was an established illustrator for The Saturday Evening Post and other leading magazines of the pre-television era. He became a hobby winemaker in 1951, and in 1957, as his interest grew, he and his wife Dene bought a 40-acre property on a hill overlooking the Hudson River in Marlboro, the site of a vineyard established by the early American viticulturist, Andrew J. Caywood.

In 1967, following several years as an artist living in Europe and studying vineyard and winemaking practices in France, he completed his first harvest at Benmarl. The winery was licensed in 1971. Winery licenses in those days cost $1,500 per year, and Miller played a leading role in securing passage of New York state's farm winery act in 1976, which reduced the annual license fee to $125, in addition to expanding allowable retail sales at the winery. In recognition of Miller's role, Benmarl was granted farm winery license No 1.

Borrowing the idea of a brotherhood that he had seen in France, Miller established Benmarl's Société des Vignerons, whose members could buy the rights to two vines, come to the winery for a special tasting in the spring, and later receive a case of wine with the Société's label, which included the member's own personal signature. The romance surrounding the Société gave it an elite status that attracted many prominent people, including the ambassador to Ireland and many members of New York's "400." At its peak in the early 1980s, the Société had about 1,400 members.

Mark Miller, Benmarl Vineyards
 
Mark Miller holds his bronze statue, "Angel of Benmarl," surrounded by other pieces of his artwork.
Benmarl and Miller won recognition not only in New York, but nationally. Time magazine ran an article in its Nov. 21, 1977, issue titled "Shaking California's Throne," which included Miller and Benmarl. The July 1978, issue of National Geographic had an article "The Hudson: That River's Alive," which prominently mentioned Benmarl under the subhead "Wines to Rival the Rhine's."

When New York's farm winery act was passed in 1976, there were only 19 wineries in New York state, compared to more than 250 today. There were about 125 in all of eastern North America.

Miller and Benmarl were in the forefront of the small farm winery movement. His memoirs, Wine--A Gentleman's Game: The Adventures of an Amateur Winemaker Turned Professional, was published in 1984.

Miller turned 80 in 1999, and his son Eric, who had been the winemaker at Benmarl for many of the early years, helped assure the continuation of Benmarl by guiding the winery through the years leading to Miller's retirement in 2004 and the winery's eventual sale in 2006 to Victor Spaccarelli Jr.

Miller was predeceased by his first wife, Nadine Grant Miller, always known as Dene, and a son Kim. He is survived by his wife, Grace Pendell Miller, their son Eric and his wife Lee, the proprietors of Chaddsford Winery in Chadds Ford, Pa., four grandchildren and one great-grandson.

A memorial service is tentatively planned for Nov. 2 at Benmarl Vineyards. For further information, phone (610) 388-6221.
SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
CURRENT NEWS INDEX »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
February 2015 $643 million
7%
$7,954 million
5%
February 2014 $601 million $7,560 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
February 2015 $132 million
4%
$1,823 million
14%
February 2014 $126 million $1,598 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
February 2015 275
26%
238
16%
February 2014 219 206
     
 
MORE » Released on 03.13.2015
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2015
 
Download full report »
 
 

Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • March 31
     
    Wine Market Council Consumer Research Conference
     
  • April 17
     
    Newsom Grape Day
     
  • April 17-19
     
    Earth Day Food & Wine Festival
     
  • April 21
     
    Ahead of the Curve
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Is Organic Grape Growing Possible in the East? »
 
Some Long Island, NY, vineyard farmers are already using nearly organic methods. They have worked...
Reader: envcat
 
Article: Loosening AVA Regulations »
 
When I see 'Napa Valley'on a wine label, it doesn't only suggest the flavors I...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Loosening AVA Regulations »
 
I should be able to live in MA, buy Napa, CA grapes, truck them across...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: The Stark Disparity in Critical Tastes »
 
The disparity is all well and good for consumers. More opinions and a kind of...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Commercial Teaching Winery for the Midwest »
 
Please visit www.lakemichigancollege.edu/wine for more information about the program.
Reader: Guest
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2015 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 Accountant
 Saint Helena, CA
Finance
 Tasting Room Sales Ass...
 Kenwood, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Graphic Designer (Juni...
 Santa Rosa, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Harvest Positions
 Sonoma, CA
Cellar, Lab and Production
 Tasting Room Associate
 Healdsburg, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Business Analyst
 San Francisco, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Cellar Master
 St. Helena, CA
Cellar, Lab and Production
 Harvest Cellar Worker
 Calistoga, CA
Cellar, Lab and Production
 2015 Harvest Intern
 Yountville, CA
Cellar, Lab and Production
 Tasting Room Professio...
 St. Helena, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2015 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.