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From Croatian Vineyards to Napa Valley Heights: The Legacy of Miljenko (Mike) Grgich

Miljenko (Mike) Grgich

In the realm of winemaking, there are individuals whose passion, talent, and dedication leave an indelible mark on the industry. This series of blogs would be complete without acknowledging Miljenko (Mike) Grgich and his significant impact on the New World wine industry. Let's take a look at the life and legacy of this remarkable winemaker.


Mike Grgich's story begins in Desne, a small village in Croatia, where he was born in 1923. Growing up in a family of winemakers, Grgich developed a deep appreciation for the craft from an early age. However, his dreams extended far beyond the borders of his homeland, and at the age of 20, he embarked on a journey that would change the course of his life forever.


In 1954, Grgich immigrated to the United States, armed with little more than his winemaking knowledge and a burning ambition to succeed. He landed in California, where he found work at a variety of wineries, honing his skills, and gaining invaluable experience along the way. His talent and passion soon caught the attention of industry leaders, and in 1958, he joined the team at Lee Stewart Cellars (later known as Chateau Montelena) in Napa Valley.


It was during his time at Chateau Montelena that Grgich would leave an indelible mark on the wine world. In 1973, he crafted the Chardonnay that would go on to win the white wine category at the historic Judgement of Paris tasting in 1976, putting California wines on the map and forever changing the perception of American winemaking.


Chateau Montelena Wines

Following his success at Chateau Montelena, Grgich pursued his passion for winemaking further by establishing his own winery, Grgich Hills Estate, in 1977, alongside Austin Hills. Located in the heart of Napa Valley, the winery quickly gained acclaim for its commitment to quality and sustainability, producing exceptional wines that reflected Grgich's meticulous attention to detail and respect for the land.


Throughout his career, Grgich remained dedicated to his craft and to sharing his knowledge and expertise with future generations of winemakers. He became known as a mentor and inspiration to many, embodying the values of hard work, integrity, and innovation that define the best of the wine industry. Mike Grgich passed away on December 23, 2023, at the age of 100.

Miljenko (Mike) Grgich

Today, Mike Grgich's legacy lives on through his wines and the countless lives he touched during his lifetime. His pioneering spirit, unwavering commitment to excellence, and enduring passion for winemaking continue to inspire and influence the world of wine, ensuring that his impact will be felt for generations to come. As we raise a glass to toast his memory, we celebrate not only the man but also the incredible journey that took him from a small village in Croatia to the pinnacle of the wine world. Cheers to Mike Grgich, a true winemaking legend.


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