by Fred McMillin
for April 23, 1999


Winery of the Week

My Grgich Problem

Grgich Hills

The Problem—Clues

1990—It started so innocently. I put a 1982, $32 Grgich Hills Late Harvest Riesling into a large tasting and it tied for second best wine of the program.

1997—By now I had noticed that whenever I put one of Mike Grgich's wines into a tasting (always blind), it finished at or near the top. His '95 Chardonnay had just blown the sox off my conservative panel.

How about his red wines?

1990 Cabernet Sauvignon—I conducted 50 tastings the year it was released, and this Grgich won Best Wine of the Year!

1994 Napa Valley Cab, $30—At the time of release, it won Best of Tasting. Would readers think I'm rigging this to favor Grgich (grr-gich)? By now I was almost hoping a bottle would stumble, to verify the objectivity of the programs...So how did the 1995 vintage do in a recent tasting?

1995 Napa Valley Cab, $45—Shucks, it won Best of Tasting, with a startling 15% higher rating than the second-place finisher. Despondent, the very next week I put the '94 Yountville Selection (3/99 release) Cab in the program. RATS! It also won Best of Tasting.

Conclusion:—All I can say is that I have no economic connection of any kind with Grgich Hills (but I sure wish I did).


George Calvert Yount (1794-1865), a sturdy trapper from North Carolina, rode east from Sonoma. Crossing the ridge "he saw before him the Napa Valley covered with golden California poppies, and decided that was where he wanted to spend the rest of his life." (Ruth Teiser)

He became the Valley's first white settler (the native American population was some 5,000). He also became the Valley's first winemaker, producing some 200 gallons a year by 1844. and what region furnished the vines that made Napa's first wine? Keep it quiet, but Napa's first wine vines came from....Sonoma.

Note: For more about Grgich-Hills, see "A Cab To Remember," WineDay, June 2,1998.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


WineDay Annex

More articles by
Fred McMillin


Welcome to WineDay, the electronic Gourmet Guide's daily update. Monday through Thursday, WineDay presents a wine profile. Then on Fridays we present the Winery of the Week to take you through the weekend.


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