If you’re a fan of FnB, the innovative, diminutive Scottsdale restaurant run by James Beard Award-winning chef Charleen Badman and front-of-house Manager/Beverage Director Pavle Milic, you might have noticed that Milic is seemingly missing in action lately. But Milic, whose wine expertise also garnered the restaurant an outstanding wine program nomination from the James Beard Foundation, has not quite left the building.
Instead, he and his wife, Carla, are spending time launching a dream project, their own vineyard and winery in Elgin, Ariz. “We bought a 20-acre parcel in the foothills of the Mustang Mountains,” says Milic, who has been a player in Arizona’s wine scene for nearly a decade, promoting the state’s wines through FnB and writing wine columns for local media. “We’re calling this new winery and vineyard Los Milics, which is a tip of the hat to my family and to my Serbian and Colombian heritage.”
Milic admits it’s a bit strange to “not be on the restaurant floor in an apron for the first time in 30 years,” but he’s up to his elbows planting more than 16,000 grape vines at his new vineyard, including petit verdot, Montepulciano and marsanne varietals. He’s also plotting the tasting room and planning the design of eight lodge rooms, which he’s working on with Chen + Suchart Studio, the Scottsdale architecture firm known for its modernist, minimalist aesthetic.
Above: Winery owner Pavle Milic.
“There aren’t many lodging and dining choices in Southern Arizona’s wine country,” Milic explains. “We want to offer people a cool place to stay, and, on weekends, we’ll be making dinner for overnight guests.” Milic plans to open the winery this fall, have the tasting room up and running by spring, and lodging completed by the end of 2020.
For now, Milic does trek north to FnB, popping in weekly, but his heart has clearly moved south. “I’ve been coming down to Southern Arizona’s wine district for nearly 10 years,” he says. “When I turn off I-10 and head down Highway 83 through those undulating grasslands, I get a visceral, calming reaction—it’s the feeling of coming home.”