Pop quiz!

What do Paris, Chardonnay, Croatia and 100 all have in common?

The intersection is Mike Grgich. A masterful winemaker from a little town in Croatia, who beat the French with his magnificent Chardonnay during the 1976 Judgement at Paris, died December 13, 2023, at age 100.

In Memoriam: A Centenarian Winemaker

In the heart of wine history, Mike Grgich stands as a centenarian luminary. His journey, reaching its pinnacle in the 1976 Judgement at Paris, left an indelible mark on the winemaking world. On December 13, 2023, at 100, the maestro bid us farewell.


The Croatian Beginnings

Mike’s story begins in Desne, Yugoslavia, a small Croatian town where he was the youngest of 11 children in a humble farming family. His parents, in addition to cultivating grains and vegetables, crafted wine. Yet, this wasn’t a luxury; it was a necessity, blending wine with local water for safety.


The Odyssey to California

Driven by a passion for winemaking, Mike journeyed from Croatia to California. His path was not direct; it included stops in West Germany and Vancouver, British Columbia. In Napa, he honed his skills at iconic wineries, shaping the course of his ambitions.


Château Montelena Years: A Turning Point

At Château Montelena, Mike crafted the 1973 Chardonnay that shocked the wine world in the Judgement at Paris. It was a turning point, and soon after, he founded Grgich Hills Estate, becoming renowned for a range of varietals, including the famous Chardonnay.

Grgich Hills Estate: Napa’s Renowned Winery

Grgich Hills Estate in Napa echoes Mike’s vision and commitment to quality. From the iconic Chardonnay to Fumé Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel, the winery stands as a testament to his winemaking prowess.

Return to Croatia: Grgic Vina Winery

In 1990, as Croatia declared independence, Mike returned to build Grgic Vina, perched on bluffs overlooking the Adriatic near Dubrovnik. Wine Lovers Travel has been fortunate to visit, savoring both the magnificent setting and the distinctly European taste of Croatian-produced wine.

A Special Tribute Trip to Croatia

In September 2024, we had planned a unique trip to Croatia, including a visit to Grgic Vina. Mike’s passing adds a poignant layer to this journey. Join us to honor a legend in the very land where his winemaking story began.


Farewell to a Legend

We invite fellow wine enthusiasts to celebrate his legacy as we bid farewell to Mike Grgich. The Croatia trip details are available at Gourmet Stars and Vineyard Trails on our website. Here’s to Mike Grgich! Živeli! Neka počiva u miru!