Grgić? That Sounds Familiar…
Suspiciously close to California based Grgich Hills, Grgić Vina is no imposter: the two are one in the same. Even if you aren’t familiar with the Grgich name you probably know more about the Croatian-born Miljenko Grgić than you think.
Miljenko “Mike” Grgić was born in Yugoslavia (present day Croatia) and valued his freedom above all else — which means he didn’t get along with his communist government all that well. Mike toughed it out long enough to attend the University of Zagreb, during which time he saved enough money to buy himself a life in California. In the 1950’s he left for what he thought of as “paradise on earth,” and I bet you know what happened next.
Vintners Hall of Fame inductee Miljenko “Mike” Grgić first earned world-wide recognition and fame in 1976 when the Chardonnay he crafted while working at Chateau Montelena bested every other wine at the Judgement of Paris. Not only was this victory huge for Grgić, but it was also 100% completely unprecedented. Up until now French wines reigned supreme, and it was this blind tasting event that shattered the myth that only French soil could produce the world’s greatest wines.
The following year Mike opened his own winery in Napa, Grgich Hills Estates, where he promptly hung two flags across the gates — American and Croatian — both of which still hang there to this day. Proud of his homeland and eager to help democracy form, Mike returned to Croatia for the first time in 1991 and met with the newly appointed president, asking how he could help. The president replied, “make wine!” and in 1996 Mike opened the doors to Grgić Vina in the name of Croatia.
Remember: it took Grgić just under 20 years to produce the World’s Best Chardonnay which forced international wine enthusiasts to officially take American wines seriously. It has been just 20 years since Mike began producing his wines in Croatia, and if history is to repeat itself I’d keep make sure to keep one eye on Pelješac.
Your Quick Guide to Grgich
How to Get There: Head northwest from Dubrovnik down the Pelješac Peninsula until you reach a town called Trstenik. It’s on your left, you can’t miss it.
Things to Know: Grgić is a big name in the wine biz, but due to a couple hard-hitting natural disasters it may be a few more years before you start to hear about his Croatian wines in the states. In 2014, the entire peninsula suffered an extremely wet summer which unfortunately caused the grapes to swell and burst, giving them very little time to develop a proper sugar content. As a result, most wineries in the region were only able to salvage about 25% of their crop and Vina was no exception. Less than 12 months later a wildfire ravaged the lands outside Trstenik and devastated Grgić Vina’s storage, burning up 25,000 bottles of wine and turning them to ash.
Be Sure to Sample: Unlike other wineries in the area, Grgić Vina offers only two varieties of wine: Plavac Mali and Pošip. Make sure to try them both as these are the most common grapes found along Pelješac.
Our Favorites: Truth be told, neither Grgić’s Plavac or Pošip really stood out for us. While many of the other vineyards in the area have wines that are full of unique complexity, the wines from Grgich had a more standardized, international style. That being said, I’d still say this winery is worth a visit, especially once the construction has finished and you can sample wines from their new terrace.
Points of Pride: The modern cooling system used in wineries across Pelješac is largely due to Grgić. When he first brought this technology to the peninsula in the 1990’s other vintners questioned the process, but now it’s common knowledge that the chambers allow for a cold and slow fermentation process which leads to a higher quality wine.
Future Outlook: It has been a tough two years for Grgić, but they are resiliently rebounding. Luckily, they are rebuilding and even expanding. With a trusted name in the states and years of experience we can expect Grgić to be one of the front-running names when it comes to Dalmatian wine.
Who to Meet: Krešimir Vučković: firstname.lastname@example.org