Luiz Alberto, #winelover. Founder of the #winelover community, member of the Circle of Wine Writers, judge at International wine competitions, wine educator and communicator. /•/ Philip S. Kampe, #winelover: Growing up in New Orleans has opened my eyes to the world of wine, food, and culture. My heritage is a combination of French, British, and Hungarian. Add eight years of European life coupled with a wife of Italian roots and you will understand my journey into this amazing world.
Saturday, November 19, 2016
Mike Grgich of Grgich Hills Celebrates His Life In America by Philip S. Kampe
93 year old Mike Grgich
The 'Judgement of Paris' 40th Anniversary Wine
Violetta named after Violet
40th Anniversary Chardonnay
The Judgment of Paris, definitely the biggest judgment in favor of accepting
and respecting the wines from America, occurred 40 years ago- in 1976.
If you are unaware of what happened, a Napa Valley
wine from Chateau Montelena beat out its French counterparts in a blind
tasting. If you read the account in George Taber’s book, ‘Judgment of Paris’, you will learn
first-hand about the account, since Mr.Taber was the only journalist that was
present at the event.
Recently, I had the opportunity to have lunch with Violet Grgich, a masterful
storyteller and daughter of famed winemaker Mike Grgich, who combined with
Stag’s Leap winemaker, Warren Winiarski to create the ‘Judgment of Paris’ winner.
Both winemakers worked for Robert Mondavi, who brought California wines to international, global
attention 40 years ago. In fact, 40 years after the event, we are still talking
or in this case writing about the achievement.
With the help of Violet Grgich, the opportunity to learn about her 93 year old
father was intriguing. Yes, he makes great wines. Yes, Mike Grgich is a household
name to wine lover’s worldwide. And Yes, everyone knows his famed wines from
But, who is this man who entered America as an immigrant whose only
dream was to see ‘paradise.’Daughter
Violet tells the story of her father’s journey from a family of eleven children
(he was the youngest) to his move from Croatia
to the ‘New World’, known as America.
Violet goes on to say that her father, Mike (born with the name, Miljenko) came
after WWII. He was a survivor with a dream.
He had grown up around vineyards in his native Croatia. In his early 20’s he
emigrated to California, worked in the
vineyards-eventually working with the Zinfandel grape- a relative of the Plavac
Muli grape-a grape he knew well in Croatia.
Somehow, the grape brought Mike’s mind back to Croatia-
sort of uniting his wine experience past with the present-a feeling, he
expressed-of not being alone anymore in America.
Years of hard work anf gratefulness blossomed as his winemaking skills were
recognized by Robert Mondavi. He joined the team that catapulted California wines into
As time went by, his reputation as a winemaker spread and the opportunity to
invest his hard earned money paid off immediately. He opened Grgich Hills. His
reputation grew and is still alive.
Mike Grgich is an icon in the undustry.
To learn more about the Mike Grgich story,I suggest that you read Mike’s
biography in ‘A Glass Full of Miracles.’ It is a wonderful book that affirms
that a positive attitude mixed with a lot of talent breeds success.
Its easy to affirm that the wines served by Violet show the many facets of
Mike’s winemaking life he excelled at. As I can attest to, Grgich Hills Chardonnay,
Sauvignon Blanc, Plavac Muli (Zinfandel), Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon and a
Late Harvest Violetta (guess who that is named for?) confirm that 93 year Mike
Grgich has found his nirvana in America.