Silverado Vineyards owner and ex-Disney CEO Ron Miller dies

Tributes have been paid to Ron Miller, son-in-law to Walt Disney and co-founder of Silverado Vineyards in Napa Valley, who has died aged 85.

Ron Miller, who was also president of the board of directors at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco and had previously been Disney CEO, died in Napa, California, announced the team at Silverado Vineyards.

Miller and his wife, Diane Disney Miller, founded Silverado Vineyards in 1981, together with Disney Miller’s mother, Lillian Disney.

They built up the winery during a transformational period for California and its standing in the wine world.

‘Since its first vintage, Silverado has won a fine reputation for consistent and full-bodied Cabernets from Stags Leap District,’ wrote Decanter contributing editor Stephen Brook last year.

Miller is survived by his seven children, plus 13 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. His wife, Diane, died in 2013.

ron miller, disney

Ron Miller, co-founder of Silverado Vineyards with his wife, Diane Disney Miller. Credit: Silverado Vineyards.

The Walt Disney connection

Miller was a 21-year-old American football player for the University of Southern California when he met 20-year-old Diane Disney on a blind date. They married in Santa Barbara on 9 May, 1954.

After a period in the army and playing football professionally for Los Angeles Rams, he was recruited by his father-in-law to work at Walt Disney studios.

Miller is credited with helping to lead the expansion of the business following Walt Disney’s death in 1966.

As CEO of the Walt Disney Co between between 1978 and 1984, he drove the creation of Disney home video, Touchstone Pictures and the Disney Channel, as well as a move into computer animation.

‘Everyone at The Walt Disney Company is deeply saddened by the passing of Ron Miller,’ said Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Co.

‘Few people had Ron’s understanding of our history, or a deeper appreciation and respect for our company, and he shared it generously with anyone who wanted to know more. I was fortunate to have known him, and even luckier to have called him a friend. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.’

In 2009, he helped to establish the Walt Disney Museum in San Francisco.

Silverado Vineyards said that the museum has set up a memorial fund to receive donations in tribute to Miller’s life.

Both Ron Miller and his wife were known for their philanthropy, notably in the areas of classical music and ballet.

Beyond film and wine, Miller also enjoyed skiing, fishing, hunting and golf.


See also: 

Travel guide: Riding Napa Valley’s Silverado Trail