Owner / Winemaker
Originally from Kokomo, Indiana, Erik had always dreamed of moving west. After graduating from Purdue University in 1999, with a degree in Organizational, Leadership, and Supervision, he set his sights on Sonoma County in order to pursue his dreams. "I traded in the soybeans and cornfields for the brighter skies, rolling hills and vineyards", Erik said. "With my Midwestern values, I approached the new territory with a promise to always treat the farmers and business the same - with respect."
Erik had his first opportunity to make an impression as a wine professional while working crush at Belvedere Winery in the Russian River Valley. Starting at ground level as a cellar worker, there was an immediate connection to the industry. After working that first harvest, Erik decided to enroll at U.C. Davis to study Oenology and learn from the best in the field. During the time he was attending classes, he met Rick Hutchinson, owner and winemaker of Amphora Winery, and was offered a full-time cellar worker position.
While handling his duties in the cellar, Erik began Kokomo Winery with a 2004 single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Dry Creek Valley. In naming his new venture, the winemaker decided to pay homage to his Indiana hometown. In 2005 Erik brought on his best friend and college roommate, Josh Bartels, to assist with the new winery's second vintage. With Josh on board, the two upped production and increased the product line. After the 2006 harvest, Kokomo Winery moved into its own facility at Timber Crest Farms in Dry Creek Valley.
In 2008 Erik brought on his partner in the winery, Randy Peters, who is a fourth generation farmer in Dry Creek Valley. "Having a partner who grows in three appellations in Sonoma County really completed the loop for us and ensures consistency in quality and terrior"
Grower / Partner
Randy Peters is a 4th generation farmer in Dry Creek Valley. Farming 70% of Kokomo Winery's fruit production in three different appellations, Randy's expertise in the vineyard completes the Kokomo team. The vineyards he farms includes Peters Vineyard, Timber Crest Vineyards, Pauline's Vineyard and Ruth's Vineyard.
Pauline's Vineyard is the ranch Randy grew up an and is named after his late mother. Peters vineyard is Randy's vineyard in the Sonoma Coast/Russian River Valley, which is where his wife Robin grew up. Timber Crest Vineyard has been farmed by Randy for 40 years and is the home of the winery on Dry Creek Road.
Josh first met Erik Miller while studying at Purdue University. The two ended up being roommates while there and graduated a year apart with the same degree. It was during these formative years in academia that Josh started developing a palate for the "finer tastes" in life. While experimenting with different business ventures, he worked part-time at a local wine shop in Indianapolis and his passion and knowledge of fine wines began to bloom.
One summer day in 2005, Josh got a call from his best buddy Erik in California who wanted him to come out to Sonoma County to work harvest with him at Amphora Winery. Unable to pass up this incredible opportunity to work in a boutique winery, Josh was immediately bitten by the wine bug.
Erik was persistent in wanting Josh to move to Sonoma County to assist him in creating incredible wines. All Josh had to do was to convince his wife to relocate 2000 miles! Josh absorbed as much knowledge as possible from the ground-up while working hand in hand with fellow "cellar dogs" Rick and Erik. When Kokomo Winery moved into their own facility after the 2006 harvest, they put all of their focus into creating ultra-premium wines.
Hospitality & Sales Director
Raised in the Bay Area, Ross managed Gourmet grocery stores until the wine bug bit him 19 years ago. Once he was hooked, he moved his family to Windsor and worked as a wine buyer for Lucky stores. After enjoying many days of visiting wineries and wine tasting he realized that Hospitality was truly his calling. “Wow …a job that allows me to educate, motivate, meet guests and make friends from all over the world!”
Over the course of his winery tenure, Ross has managed Tasting Room and retail operations for a number of both large and small wineries in Sonoma Valley and Dry Creek Valley. After meeting our fearless leader, Erik Miller, at an event, Ross decided to join the team at Kokomo. “Making the move has been an amazing, rewarding and exciting experience in my wine career!”
Customer Service, Marketing & Sales
- Kimia Miller - Kyla Kitagawa - Kim Murdock - Cynthia Austin - Karen Anderson - Leslie Hanson
- Joel Garcia - Stephanie Kerkhof - Jared Aizenstadt - Sean Mayall - John-Clare Laxton