October 7, 2019
History & Culture
Famous for putting Napa Valley on the map, it’s no secret that the Grgich Hills Estate Winery is an all-American icon—which is why we’re so excited to offer them as one of our stops on our scenic Wine Train tours. This family-run winery takes you down memory lane as you bask in the notable history of the 1976 Paris Tasting and showcases all of the incredible wine they’ve been making ever since. If you’re looking for scenic views, world-class wines, and a story unlike any other, this is the winery for you!
Mastermind Milijenko “Mike” Grgich first rose to notoriety after what became known as the Paris Tasting of 1976. In a now-historic blind tasting, a panel of French sommeliers sipped on a selection of white Burgundies from France and a small pick of Chardonnays from Napa Valley. After the scores were tallied, the true winner stood tall—Mike’s 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay was dubbed the finest white wine in the world. This surprising win resulted in Mike being crowned as one of the wine industry’s most adored wine pioneers. Thus, on Independence Day, 1977, Mike Grgich partnered with Austin Hills and his sister, Mary Lee Strebl, from the Hills Bros. Coffee family to create The Grgich Hills Estate. With a portfolio of six beautiful wines, Grgich Hills Estate has served at State dinners for Presidents Raegan and Clinton, Queen Elizabeth II, and even French President François Mitterrand.
In 2008, Mike was inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame in honor of the many contributions he made to the wine industry in Napa and abroad. Now at 96 years old, Mike still plays a hand in his prized Estate. Utilizing modern wine-making techniques, Grgich Hills Estate is committed to crafting the finest of wines without artificial fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. The Estate even switched to solar power in 2006—creating outstanding wines by the power of nature, simply from vineyard to wine glass!
Grgich Hills Estate Winery treats each of their wines as their own “special child”—carefully nurturing their development at each stage in the process. The pride and joy of the estate is the awarded Chardonnay. As a complement to the Chardonnay, they also produce a refreshing Fumé Blanc, a spicy Zinfandel, a complex Cabernet Sauvignon, a fragrant Merlot, and a decadent dessert wine named ‘Violetta’—an ode to Mike’s daughter, Violet.
There are two ways to transport yourself to the beautiful oak barrels of Grgich Hills Estate Winery with the Napa Valley Wine Train—on our Grgich Hills Winery Tour, or the Grgich Hills Estate Saturday Evening Winery Tour. Each tour will offer an inside look at the legendary winery that put Napa Valley wine on the map—and who knows? You just might see the amazing Milijenko “Mike” Grgich in person.