Milla Handley, winemaker and owner Handley Cellars, has announced her retirement and plans to pass on the Anderson Valley winery to her two daughters.
“I am proud and happy that my daughters want to be that next generation to continue farming this land and giving back to our community,” Handley stated in the announcement issued Wednesday.
Taking over as co-owners will be Lulu McClellan and Megan Handley Warren. McClellan will be national sales manager.
“My sister and I are thrilled to be carrying forward the legacy that my parents started, and as Handley Cellars enters its 36th vintage, we could not be more proud of our past and excited for our future,” said McClellan in the announcement. “My mom has made extraordinary wines with Handley Cellars, and her principles have led her to do so much more with her winery. She has fostered an atmosphere here that supports dynamic and creative people while making beautiful wine that respects and celebrates our environment. Our vision for Handley Cellars is that it always continues to be more than just a winery — we are a family, part of a larger community, and stewards of our land.”
Taking on Handley’s role as winemaker will be former co-winemaker Randy Schock, now becoming lead winemaker. Travis Scott will become associate vice president.
Handley’s 36-year career includes milestones such as being one of the first female graduates in fermentation science at University of California, Davis, in 1978.
According to the company, Handley decided to start her own brand from Mendocino County, a largely uncharted winemaking territory at the time. Along with her late husband, Rex, and the support of her parents, she chose Anderson Valley, which had always been considered too cold for growing winegrapes. The winery opened in 1982.
Breaking out on her own, she made 250 cases of chardonnay, becoming the first woman winemaker and owner to establish a wine label with her own name in the U.S., the company stated. In 2003, she applied for organic certification, which was granted in 2005.
The winery’s small-lot production includes pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot gris, riesling, gewurztraminer, syrah and zinfandel.