Miljenko "Mike" Grgich is unquestionably the most revered winemaker in California, if not the entire U.S. At 99 years of age, he is certainly the oldest. Mike was born into a winemaking family in Croatia and learned it from the ground up. By 1954 he had established quite a name for himself there, but because of its Communist control, he decided it was time to leave. He first went to Germany, then Canada, and finally the US in 1968 where we went to work for the Robert Mondavi Winery.
In 1972 he became the first winemaker for the newly established Chateau Montelena in Napa. His fame skyrocketed in 1976 when a group of French wine judges picked his Chardonnay as the best over their own famous Burgundies. That single event made the cover of Time Magazine and put California on everybody's wine map.
In 1977 he founded Grgich Hills winery and never looked back. For the past 45 years, Grgich has been one of the most awarded and heralded wineries in the country. The reasons are obvious. The wines are always spectacular.
Winemaking is now done by his nephew, Ivo Jeramaz, who was also a winemaker in Croatia but followed his famous uncle to Napa Valley. It's almost unfathomable that nothing has changed. The wines are as spectacular now as they have ever been. Mike was known as "Mr. Chardonnay," making his Fume Blanc one of the best kept secrets in the wine world. The compelling fresh fruit and herbal swing begs for a seafood risotto or baked halibut.