by Fred McMillin
for June 2, 1998

A Cab to Remember  


Miljenko (Mike) Grgich, who toiled in the family vineyard in Croatia, is a master with Cabernet Sauvignon, having worked for years under Andre Tchelistcheff. Grgich Hills Cabs are rich, beautifully sculpted wines with the intensity of fruit flavor and delicate balance making them suitable for cellaring.

...James Laube in California's Great Cabernets.

The Early Years

The tenth of eleven children, Mike stomped grapes since he was able to stand in a vat. After pressing, the juice was drained by gravity because the family had no electricity. "Every evening before bed, we stomped grapes. My feet were always red. We never bottled wine in those days. People would come with pitchers and buy for each meal."

...Natalie Berkowitz in the Wine Enthusiast

Cab Milestones

1980 Vintage—Three years after he founded the winery with Hills Bros. coffee heir Austin Hills, Mike turns out their first Cabernet Sauvignon. It is an immediate success when released, rated with the Napa Valley's best for that year.

1990 Vintage—I held 50 tastings the year it was released. The Grgich (grr-gich)Cab won Best Wine of the Year.

1992 Vintage—Each vintage is collecting golds but this one also wins Best Cab of California at the huge, annual California State Fair competition.

Latest Release—Mike says the 1994 has a real chance of being his "all-time favorite." There's no argument from my tasters. They give an EXCELLENT rating to about three Cabs a year. This is the first one for 1998.

The Wine

1994 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Grgich Hills, St. Helena Highway, Rutherford, CA.
Phone—(707) 963-2784
Price—$30 range


The highly-respected Wine & Spirits publication selected Grgich Hills as the "Winery of the Year for 1997." Not bad for someone who used to stomp grapes with his feet in a winery without electricity.

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 and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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