Milla Handley

Milla Handley

Handley Cellars (Founding Winemaker and Proprietor)

Winemaker Emerita

After earning a degree in Fermentation Sciences in 1975 at the University of California, Davis, Milla worked for winemaker Richard Arrowood at Chateau St. Jean. Following the birth of her first child in 1978, she moved to the remote winemaking region of Anderson Valley, where she became assistant winemaker to Jed Steele at Edmeades Winery.

Milla struck out on her own in 1982, making the first Handley Cellars Chardonnay in her basement. At that time, Anderson Valley was still uncharted viticultural territory. “I was captivated by its possibilities,” Handley says. “Anderson Valley’s beauty and isolation appealed to me. My husband Rex and I felt that Anderson Valley was a good place to raise children. The people here possessed an independent spirit, and I felt I could follow my own course, somewhat removed from the entrenched winemaking culture. I wanted my wines to capture the essence of this extraordinary place.”

In the last several decades, Milla has emerged as a champion of Anderson Valley as a winemaking region. Committed to producing Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer, sparkling wines, and other varietals that are elegant depictions of her valley and her art, she retired in 2017. Her legacy will continue with her daughters, Lulu McClellan and Megan Handley Warren, becoming co-owners of the winery. Randy Schock, previously Milla’s co-winemaker, has been named as the lead winemaker.