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  
October 2014 $570 million
6%
$7,775 million
6%
October 2013 $539 million $7,342 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
October 2014 $284 million
18%
$1,751 million
13%
October 2013 $240 million $1,556 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
October 2014 139
6%
226
18%
October 2013 131 192
     
 
MORE » Released on 11.13.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2014
 
Download full report »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • November 16-23
     
    San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival
     
  • November 19-23
     
    Flavor! Napa Valley
     
  • November 20-21
     
    San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers annual meeting
     
  • November 20-22
     
    Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Kluge Saga Continues in Virginia »
 
Not everybody likes Pat Kluge, but she and Moses built a first class winery /...
Reader: Josh Moser
 
Article: Canada Adapts to Kegged Wines »
 
I am a wine agent in Manitoba & there certainly are kegs of cider here....
Reader: Guest
 
Article: What's Your Winery's IP Worth? »
 
If you would like more information on this seminar please visit The Seminar Group's website....
Reader: Danielle Bingham
 
Article: DtC Is Lifeblood of Wineries, Banker Says »
 
Seems like another locical option would be to have more small niche distrbutors. Consolidation of...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Tasting Wine From PD-Resistant Grapes »
 
Congratulations Andy! Lots of grapebreeders and southern growers will be looking through the catalogs. i...
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
 Viticulturist 1 (Grape...
 Modesto, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Assistant Winemaker
 Healdsburg, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Cellar Worker 3
 Napa, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Market Sales Manager
 San Diego, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Pernod Ricard Retail A...
 Cheyenne, WY
Sales and Marketing
 Sales Consultants
 Fairfield & New Haven Counties, CT
Sales and Marketing
 Territory Sales Repres...
 Monterey, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Fine Wine And Spirits ...
 New York, NY
Sales and Marketing
 Accounting Clerk
 King City, CA
Finance
 Experienced Lab Tech/B...
 King City, CA
Winemaking and Production
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





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

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2014 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.