Grgich Hills Estate Celebrates 90 years of Living And Loving Wine
By Kaye Cloutman
Main photos courtesy of Rocco Ceselin
When you finally have an opportunity to visit the winery of a brand you’ve loved and served to guests over the years, the feeling you’ll get upon entering its doors is beyond invaluable. Grgich Hills Estate has been one of my go-to wines for some time now, especially when I’m not very familiar with a restaurant’s menu. Their wines pair easily and beautifully with any dish and I am never disappointed because from whites to reds, Grgich Hills Estate’s wines are clean, natural and have great acidity that makes your mouth water, which is why it works well with food. The wine has also been very well received during parties or intimate gatherings at home and perhaps it’s that very reason why I feel super easy and comfortable with all their bottles. One doesn’t have to be a connoisseur to enjoy its flavors and complexities.
Grgich Hills Estate was one of my recent stops when I took a group of first time visitors to the Valley and I almost wanted to hit myself on the head for not going sooner. It was like a homecoming, and the winery folks probably had built in wino-radars because they immediately sensed that the majority of the bunch in my party were not very familiar with the technicalities of wine tasting. Enter Mike Adair, tasting-room manager extraordinaire – who immediately won us over with his vivacious and accepting persona. Mike quickly immersed us into the history of the winery and its founder Miljenko “Mike” Grgich who turns 90 next month. The winery will have a year-long celebration in honor of his accomplishments and contribution to Napa Valley. A private birthday dinner with a guest list which includes food and wine luminaries from the Valley is rumored to happen during the first week of April but Grgich Hills Estate will also be conducting satellite dinners throughout the US (NYC, Chicago, Colorado, Florida, Texas & Southern Cal) as well as at their winery in Croatia. Lots of big things are happening for them this year and you wouldn’t want to miss any of that so visit their website to check out more about their upcoming festivities. [Click here]
Tasting with Mike
What’s certainly refreshing about Mike Adair was that he wasn’t just about the whole vine-to-wine talk. He made conversations other than the wines and actually gave my friends a run-down of things to do while in the valley. He even took the time to get to know more about them and their places of origin. Hospitality galore indeed, and certainly was much-appreciated because it broke down the initial intimidation they felt coming in. “You know to me, enjoying wine is best done when you’re sitting around people you love – we talk about life, I serve my homemade food – that’s how I take pleasure in wine – it really is a social beverage and sometimes the most important factor in livening up any communal setting,” explained Mike.
While pouring a bottle of our favorite Violetta, Mike proceeds, “No one wants to go to a party where most of the guests are uptight – they may start that way but have them take a glass or two of wine, you tell a joke or two and suddenly they start to loosen up. Turn on the music and then you see them starting to have some fun – that’s what life and drinking wine is all about. It’s not about who knows what or how advanced your palate and nose might be. I’ve drank a lot of wine, I don’t consider myself an expert but I do know what I like and I think about that when we have visitors here. They won’t like my favorite blends all the time but I will not be offended at all. Wine is subjective – I want to learn as much from them as they do from me. Usually, some people will go here and tell me that they prefer this certain type of wine and I refer them to another winery which carries that kind of wine they enjoy. My advice is to taste as much as you can handle and go from there. It’s your preference, no one should dictate what wines are good or not. I’m all about making sure you walk out of this place satisfied with the fact that you’ve found something you really like.”
It’s exactly this kind of down-to-earth point of view about wine and emphasis on all things social which makes Grgich Hills such a wonderful winery to visit. Their wines, like the people who make them, get people from all walks of life talking together.
1829 St Helena Hwy Rutherford, CA 94573
Throwback Photos from Grape Crush Fashion Editorial GEV Issue 5.0
Photography by Marebeth Gromer
Second Photographer Daniel Gromer
Lighting Assistant & Video Fred Fuchess
Models: Kim Flink (HMM Models), Benjamin Kline
Featured Designer / Clothing Store Franco Uomo Santana Row and Sugar Shack, Sacramento CA
Stylist Awnalee Morr
Hair & MUA Top Shelf Beauty by Dejah Rachelle
LOCATIONS: Grgich Hills Estate Winery
PO BOX 450 Rutherford, CA 94573
Special thanks to: Bicycles Getaway Adventures
To see the entire spread, visit GEV Magazine Issue 5.0