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  • Theresa Downs

Grgich Hills Estate: Enjoy Amazing Chardonnay Wine By A Famous Winemaker

What's Their Story:

Some wine experts would argue that there would be no Napa Valley without Miljenko "Mike" Grgich, a Croatian immigrant, Grgich Hills Estates namesake. That's probably somewhat of an exaggeration. But without his contributions to the Napa Valley wine industry, it would have taken a lot longer for the world to recognize Napa Valley as the premium wine area it is. For you see, Mr. Grgich was the winemaker behind the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that bested some of the most prestigious French white burgundy wines in the 1976 Judgement of Paris competition. That milestone put Napa Valley on the map, and the rest is history. At that time, Mr. Grgich had been an accomplished winemaker for decades.

After his victory in France, Mike Grgich and Austin Hills (of Hills Brothers coffee fame) collaborated and founded Grgich Hills Cellar in 1977 in Rutherford (Napa Valley). And, once again, Mr. Grgich showed his mettle by winning the Chicago 1980 Great Chardonnay Showdown with the winery's first Chardonnay; he beat out over 221 domestic and international wines.

In recognition of his vast contributions, he was inducted into the Culinary Institute of America's Vintner's Hall of Fame on March 7, 2008. Mr. Grgich has rightfully earned the affectionate moniker of Mr. Chardonnay.

Why The Winery Made The Grade: Chardonnay

California Chardonnay and Mijenko "Mike" Grgich are synonymous (go ahead, google and see), so I would have been remiss to exclude this winery from the list. Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnays have been included in numerous wine publications "Top 10" for decades. Grgich Hill Estate Chardonnays have less oak and butter than is usually associated with California Chardonnay wines. Their Chardonnays tend to be more acidic, citrusy, and fruity, which I find delightful and easier to pair with food.


The winery is lovely, with ample outside seating in its well-shaded patio and garden. The staff is welcoming and knowledgeable, and visitors are encouraged to relax from the rigors of wine tasting.

Which Winery Visitor Type Would Love It :

The winery would appeal to all wine visitor types. The outside patio will delight all, particularly Casual Wine Drinkers: Oenophiles and Luxury Seekers will love an opportunity to visit where it all happened, and Authenticity Seekers will appreciate the wine and the history of the winery.


Address: 1829 St Helena Hwy, Rutherford, CA 94573

Phone: (707) 963-2784


Appointments are required

Hours: 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM Daily

Tours/Tastings Offered: Grgich Hills Estate winery offers several different tastings ranging in price from $75.00 to $250.00 (some tastings offer food). I'd recommend the "Seated Miljenko's Tasting" for $ 75.00 per person, which tastes five different wines. Visitors will get a great idea of their wine profile. I should mention that wineries are into sharing; buying one tasting for two people is perfectly acceptable.

Read the next blog in the Chardonnay series: Hudson Ranch

Or read all of the Chardonnay blogs in our new guide, Chardonnay Wineries of Sonoma and Napa.

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