Airfield Estates has a deeply rooted history that traces back to 1907 when our founder and great-grandfather, H. Lloyd Miller, pioneered to the northwest settling in Sunnyside, Washington. As an entrepreneur and successful real estate man, H. Lloyd was largely engaged in the buying and selling of farm properties.
By 1920, H. Lloyd had acquired the site where our estate vineyard is located today. At that time, the property did not have access to irrigation water. Over time, H. Lloyd became instrumental in bringing irrigation water to the higher regions of the Yakima Valley. He met directly with President Roosevelt and acquired the political support necessary to get the Roza Canal Project funded.
In 1941, H. Lloyd leased a portion of our family property to the Olympia Air Transport Corporation, which constructed a flight school for hundreds of Army Air Corps pilots during World War II. 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 airbase closed in 1944, and in 1946, the buildings were auctioned off to H. Lloyd Miller for $1. This marked the beginning of Airport Ranch. H. Lloyd converted the site of the airbase into his farm headquarters. Shortly thereafter, our property gained access to irrigation water. And Airport Ranch became quite diversified with cattle, hogs, alfalfa, asparagus, potatoes, onions, and oats.
The beginning stages of our estate vineyard took shape when our grandfather, Don Miller, became interested in growing wine grapes. In 1967, Don purchased 3 different varietals, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Cabernet Sauvignon. He planted them the following spring to see what would grow best with the ranch’s climate and soil. The year after that, Don partnered with a local nursery planting 20 different wine grape varietals in greenhouses for propagation. By 1971, our first commercial planting was established.
Our father, Mike Miller, joined the family farm in 1974. He became highly involved in wine grape production and transitioned our farm into what it is today – 830 acres of wine grapes and 350 acres of Concord juice grapes. We sold our wine grapes exclusively to other wineries until 2005 when Mike founded Airfield Estates Winery.