Grgich Hills Cellar

Driving down I-29 in Napa, I could not help but stop by one of my favorite producers, Grgich Hills.  The winery was started by a man I idolize, Miljenko "Mike" Grgich.  Mike came to America from Croatia with nothing and has become one of the leading wine producers in the nation.  His ability to work with new equipment, innovations, and techniques has created a world class reputation.  He worked with Andre Tchelistcheff at Beaulieu Vineyard (BV), Robert Mondavi, and created the 1976 Paris Wine Tasting winning Chardonnay, 1973 vintage Chateau Montelena.  After the Paris Tasting, he struck out on his own at Grgich Hills. 

The property is welcoming and simple.  I noticed on the way in a sign stating the estate is both biodynamic and organic certified- a suggestion from his nephew, Ivo Jeramaz.  Ivo has been with Mike for two decades and his wine background goes back to Croatia, growing grapes and making wine with his family.  Mike and Ivo were also able to create a winery in Croatia, Grgic Vina, in Dubrovnik.  Mike may have some great help, but at 85 years of age, he is still very active at the winery.  We hoped to speak with him but he was very busy with scheduled visitors and harvest.

We were greeted by Connor, a California native who was very knowledgeable about both the winery and the wines.  The tasting room is offset by both stainless steel fermentation tanks and oak aging barrels- nice to be surrounded by future great wines!  Here is what we tasted:

  • 2007 Napa Fume Blanc- this Sauvignon Blanc was aged in oak and sur lie, giving it good body.  Great tropical and citrus fruits, oak, and oily texture.  Long finish.

  • 2006 Napa Chardonnay- this is the first vintage of both biodynamic and organic certification.  Mike's Chardonnays are always done in Burgundian style- oak aged with no malolactic fermentation, leaving a crisply acidic full bodied wine with great floral, citrus, mineral, and honeyed components.

  • 2005 Napa Chardonnay, Carneros Selection- this is the best of the best.  More contact with new oak makes this wine more rich and nuttier.  Tropical fruits and creaminess shine through with elegance.

  • 2004 Napa Merlot- is a Merlot meant for aging with rich tannins and structure.  Has a silky texture along with dark fruit, spice, and cedar.

  • 2005 Napa Zinfandel- a rich dark color accompanies lively fruit, leather, and earth.  This wine gains great structure from the addition of Petit Syrah.  Perfect pizza wine.

  • 2004 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon- a complete balance of body and fruit, this wine also gives off floral and chocolatey components.

Every wine we tasted is of the best quality and not only garner high WG scores, but also high scores from all expert tasters and writers.  The price tag on these wines are very moderate for the quality, ranging from $30-135 and considering the cellaring potential, all are a steal.