A Napa Valley Icon: The Grgich Hills Estate Experience

April 26, 2022
Arts & Culture History & Culture Tasting & Learning

A Napa Valley Icon: The Grgich Hills Estate Experience

It’s not every day you get to sample the work of a true wine legend. But, with the Napa Valley Wine Train’s Grgich Hills Estate Tasting, that’s exactly what you’ll have the chance to do! 

 Given how influential and far-reaching Napa Valley wine is today, you may be surprised to learn it hasn’t always been world-renowned. In fact, while wine has been produced in Napa since the 1800s, it took the hard work of dedicated winemakers to put the region on the global sommelier map. One of the key winemakers in this achievement is Croatian-born Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, founder of Grgich Hills Estate, who is celebrated for his role in a shocking landmark wine tasting known as the “Judgment of Paris.”

Putting Napa Chardonnay on the Map

Picture this: the year is 1976. A group of French judges is conducting a blind tasting of white wines, including well-known white Burgundies from France and some new Napa Valley chardonnays. The judges are tasked with choosing the very best white wine. To the shock of the panel and the entire wine world, they select Mike Grgich’s 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay — and a legend is born! In fact, Grgich’s 1973 chardonnay is so important to the history of American wine that it was selected by the Smithsonian Institute as one of the “101 Objects That Made America.” To put this in perspective, other items on this storied list include Abraham Lincoln’s hat and Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit. According to the Smithsonian, the selection of Grgich’s chardonnay at the Judgment of Paris led to massive growth in the Californian wine industry. 

Despite its lofty history, Grgich Hills Estate remains family-owned, and its grounds are simple, quaint, and charming. Mike is now a Vintners Hall of Fame inductee and James Beard Award winner. He turned 99 on April 1, 2022, and serves as Winemaker Emeritus at Grgich Hills Estate. 

The Grgich Hills Estate Experience

Your Grgich Hills Estate Tasting experience begins with an elegant train journey northbound through Napa Valley. There’s no better way to take in the timeless beauty of the region than from a luxury car with your choice of gourmet entrees. How does porcini-dusted beef tenderloin, daily fresh seafood, or ricotta gnocchi sound? Enjoy a tranquil ride in the Petit Gourmet Car en route to glorious Grgich Hills Estate in breathtaking Rutherford. 

When you arrive, your one-hour seated tasting will be hosted on an outdoor patio, allowing you to take in the serene majesty of the vineyard. Enjoy a selection of sustainably produced wines produced with Grgich’s signature care and passion. Once you’ve completed your tasting, hop aboard the Wine Train for a special treat on your return trip: coffee or tea and a decadent dessert. Savor this indulgence at your leisure as you head through the valley back to Napa, where your journey concludes.

Where Will You Go Next?

After tasting some of the world’s best wines at Grgich Hills Estate, check out some of our other unforgettable experiences. We provide memorable excursions for lovers of wine, gourmet food, old-world luxury, and fun. We even have something for lovers of murder mysteries! Or, for more winery-focused fun, consider booking a trip on our 6-hour Legacy Tour. This fantastic tour includes visits to Charles Krug and V. Sattui, two Napa winemakers with over 200 years of combined history.

Not sure which of our experiences to try first? We’ve designed a handy quiz for you to choose the right Napa Valley Wine Train journey for you.

Book Your Grgich Hills Estate Tasting

Ready to experience the celebrated winery that shocked the world and put Napa Valley on the global wine map? Book your Grgich Hills Estate Tasting online now or call 1-800-427-4124. We can’t wait to welcome you aboard!

Savor the Season

Celebrate the holidays with the ones you love on our Legacy Experience. Toast to togetherness on this signature Napa Valley adventure and delight in three exquisite tastings, four delicious courses and iconic photo opportunities along the way. Start planning your journey today.