Grgich Hills Cellar was founded in 1977 by Mike Grgich and Austin Hills, a member of the Hills Bros. Coffee family. Mike Grgich has an amazing story of how he came to own and run this winery. He is a living legend in the Napa Valley and a member of the Vintner Hall of Fame. Mike produced a winning Chardonnay in the 1976 Paris Tasting for Chateau Montelena. He was born in a small village along the Croation coast before immigrating to the USA in later years and arrived in Napa in 1958 with his worldly belongings in one suitcase. Talk about a self made man. Mike also later founded a second winery in his home country of Croatia called Grgiæ Vina. Grgich Hills is the largest Biodynamically farmed winery and grape grower in the USA. They have one of the best descriptions of Biodyanamic farming we have seen available on a printed sheet at the winery at the info counter, or visit their website for additional details about this type of farming.
They also use solar for most of their power and when you visit you can check out their real time usage screen in the tasting room or view this info online here. They are located on the west side of St. Helena Highway (Highway 29) and the wine train comes right across their driveway. You may be treated to a blast from its loud horn if you are visiting in late morning or mid afternoon when the wine train returns. In fact this is one of only two wineries that the Napa Valley Wine Train stops at. Grgich Hills manages and owns over 360 planted vineyard acres in the Napa Valley ranging from American Canyon & Carneros in the south to vineyards north of Calistoga in a warmer growing region. In fact a small block of Zinfandel in their Calistoga vineyard dates from 1889. Talk about old vine Zinfandel! The small tasting room and gift shop is located right at the main entrance.
The wines are excellent including several Chardonnays, Cabernet Sauvignons, their much sought after Old Vine Zin from the grapes planted in 1889 and their delicious botrysized Violetta wine (Chardonnay & Riesling) which is rarely made (4x in past 13 years) and when produced is limited to only several hundred cases. You think this wine sells out fast?! A tasting includes a souvenir glass. A tasteful souvenir section is located near the tasting counters. Mike Grgich Bobble Head Dolls. Now THAT’S AWESOME. This is the only winery we’ve visited who has memorialized their founder with the bobbing bobble head! You can also take tours given bi-daily by appointment. The tasting on the tours is at the end of the tour in their VIP room. Also note they have barrel tastings every Friday from 2-4pm and this is included with the main tasting fee. Should you be in the area during September and typically much of October, ask about their free grape stomping in which you can help out during this process. You will make juice the old fashioned way; be prepared to get dirty. Be sure to also pick up their Grgich Hills newsletter – available near the main entrance. Lastly Grigich has worked for many years with Roots of Peace, an organization dedicated to removing landmines from war affected countries.
Also of note is their Roots of Peace Fountain located at the entrance to the winery. On the 7th anniversary of 9/11, Grgich Hills founder Mike Grgich and Roots of Peace founder Heidi Kuhn placed the first coins in this fountain. From then on, any coins tossed into the waters will be collected and donated to Roots of Peace (their primary focus is to turn minefields into vineyards and or make the land once more productive). Visit: www.grgich.com