November 20, 2018 – What was once the Figge Cellars tasting room at 3 Pilot Rd. in Carmel Valley is set to open on December 7 with two new brands: BOLD and Little Figge. The former is the province of Christopher Miller, a Master Sommelier, with experience developing world-class wine lists in places like LA, New Orleans and Seattle. He also makes wine, more on that in a minute. The latter brand is that of the late Peter Figge’s wife, Amy, whose maiden name happens to be Little. At first, Amy wasn’t crazy about the name, but it grew on her. In fact, she helped design the label.
All of the wines served under the BOLD brand and some of those under the Little Figge brand were made by Miller, who came to the Monterey area in 2014 with his former business partner, Todd Seabold, to make wine together.
Says Miller, “After 6 years in Beverly Hills, I was burned out on the restaurant business and moved to Napa to be a consultant. I’d been making wine for 5 or 6 years, and took a year off. Todd said to me, ‘Why aren’t you making wine? I love it!’ Let’s do some Pinot!”
Miller loved making wine and wanted to spend more time in the vineyard, so they looked around at Yakima, WA, Oregon and Santa Barbara. Then Todd suggested Monterey, saying it had the potential to be great. That rang a bell. He knew a guy from Monterey. His name was Peter Figge.
Miller met Peter Figge at the Naples Winter Wine Festival about ten years ago and they instantly hit it off. “He was such a really nice and pleasant guy, and a bit goofy, too!” recalls Miller, who was working at the time at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in Beverly Hills.
It would take some time for Miller to actually get Peter’s wine into his restaurants. “He just never seemed to get around to sending me samples!” says Miller. But eventually, the two connected when Miller, came to work a Pebble Beach Food & Wine event. They went to Peter’s winery and tasted through barrels. “Some were outstanding!” says Miller. He took some and quickly sold through them at the restaurant.
When Seabold and Miller met in Monterey in 2014, they visited Figge and quietly began making wine with him that year, which they didn’t release. In 2015, they made a bit more, and started releasing it commercially under the Seabold label. “You just don’t realize how quickly the wine business sneaks up on you!” says Miller.
In 2016, they decided to get more involved and approached Figge about investing in his operation, which they did. They bought him some new equipment so he could make better wines and things were looking up, until Figge’s tragic death last year.
Afterwards, Todd and Chris talked with Amy’s Dad, Matt, and decided to buy the winery outright. Naturally, that led to the tasting room space in Carmel Valley that Peter had recently acquired next to Quail & Olive.
Miller says that Little Figge and BOLD will share the space. For BOLD, expect Pet Nats, Pinot Blanc, several Pinot Noirs, Grenache and Chardonnay. The Little Figge label will offer a 2017 Grenache Rose, made by Miller, and a 2016 Syrah from Peter.
There’s a nice synergy to this whole setup. We can only hope that Peter is smiling that adorable, friendly smile as his wines—and those he helped birth—once again splash into somebody’s glass. Hopefully, it’s yours.
Laura Ness is a longtime wine journalist, columnist and judge who contributes regularly to Edible Monterey Bay, Spirited, WineOh.Tv, Los Gatos Magazine and Wine Industry Network, and a variety of consumer publications. Her passion is telling stories about the intriguing characters who inhabit the fascinating world of wine and food.