Napa Valley icon Miljenko “Mike” Grgich has released his memoir, “A Glass Full of Miracles,” in celebration of his 93rd birthday on April 1st. The book, published by Violetta Press, was written with Napa Valley Register editor Sasha Paulsen and chronicles the long and storied life of a young Croatian boy whose search for freedom and the chance to fulfill his American Dream led him through countless hardships to become one of the most revered and beloved winemaking legends in history.
“My life has been filled with miracles’” Mike Grgich says. “How else do you explain that a little boy from a little village in Croatia now has his wine on display in the Smithsonian Institution, in the same place as Abraham Lincoln’s hat and Neal Armstrong’s space suit?”
Grgich, the youngest in a family of 11, studied enology and viticulture at Croatia’s University of Zagreb with the goal of making great wine. While he was a student, a professor whispered to him about California, a paradise where winemakers were free to make the best wine possible. Just before graduating, he fled Croatia to escape communism. With $32 sewn in his shoe, Grgich finally arrived in California after four years of adversity and uncertainty. The book transports readers along Grgich’s journey from communism to freedom, becoming a California winemaker and earning his place as a Napa Valley icon.
An inductee to the Vintners Hall of Fame, Grgich crafts wines in the classic Old World tradition that have won a stream of local and international awards, establishing Grgich Hills Estate as one of the premier wineries in the U.S. and the world.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the famous Judgment of Paris. In 1976, Steven Spurrier, an Englishman who ran a fine wine shop in Paris, decided to promote his wine shop by organizing a blind tasting to coincide with America’s Bicentennial celebrations. For the tasting, he gathered together the best French judges, the finest French wines and he added in a few wines from some upstart winemakers in California. The unimaginable happened: the 1973 Chardonnay, crafted by Mike Grgich for Chateau Montelena, won with the highest total score of 132 points. This momentous verdict placed Napa Valley on the global wine map and set the bar for Chardonnay in Napa Valley.
The following year Grgich joined with Austin Hills of the Hills Bros. Coffee Company to open what became Grgich Hills Estate. The first vintage that Grgich crafted at the new winery was one of 221 Chardonnays from around the world entered into “The Great Chicago Chardonnay Showdown.” The 1977 Grgich Hills Chardonnay emerged triumphant with the first place ribbon and the Chicago Tribune called it “The best Chardonnay in the world!”
George Taber, the Time magazine reporter who broke the story of the Paris Tasting and later was the author of “Judgment of Paris” about the famed tasting, praises “A Glass Full of Miracles:” “Mike Grgich may be small in stature, but he is a giant in the world of wine. His new book dramatically tells his full story, which is a great tale of a dream come true…there are a lot more aspects to Mike’s life than just Cabernet and Chardonnay. It’s a great and fun read.”
“A Glass Full of Miracles” retails for $40, to pre-order visit www.ViolettaPress.com, www.grgich.com and www.amazon.com. The book will ship in mid-April. For more information about the book, visit www.ViolettaPress.com.