Miljenko "Mike" Grgich
President and Vintner's Hall of Fame inductee
An inductee to the Vintner Hall of Fame, Miljenko “Mike” Grgich is a legend in the Napa Valley. Over the past 50 years, Mike’s wines, crafted in the classic Old World tradition, have won a stream of California and international prizes, establishing Grgich Hills Estate as one of the premier wineries in the U.S. and the world. Passionate and relentless in his quest for quality, Mike has also helped pioneer a number of significant breakthroughs in California winemaking techniques, including the use of cold sterilization and malolactic fermentation and the use of oak barrels for proper aging.
Mike’s most celebrated achievement came in 1976 when a Chardonnay he crafted for Chateau Montelena beat the very best wines in France in a now famous blind tasting in Paris. This event that stunned the wine world catapulted the Napa Valley into the front ranks of the leading wine-producing regions of the world. “For years, everybody in the world believed that only French soils could produce great wines,” Mike explains. “We shattered that myth. That was probably the most significant result of the Paris tasting. Our victory pumped new energy into the California wine industry, particularly in the Napa Valley, and it energized winemakers in many other parts of the word, such as Argentina and Chile. They realized that if we could do it, so could they.” Read More
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
Violet’s passion for wine began at an early age, as she literally grew up accompanying her father in the vineyards and cellar. She spent her summers at the winery, doing everything from bottling line work to laboratory analysis and working in the tasting room.
Attending the University of California, Davis, Violet earned a BA in music while taking classes in biology, chemistry, and enology. After graduation, she returned home to Grgich Hills to continue her education in the wine business, learning about daily operations of the winery from Mike. She received her Master of Music in harpsichord at Indiana University, and then joined the winery fulltime in 1988. She’s now responsible for daily management of the winery, as well as sales and marketing. She says that she has the ideal job: “I believe that wine is part of a healthy, happy and long life. Wine brings people together and makes them happy, which makes my job extraordinarily fulfilling.” Read More
Austin E. Hills
Austin Hills received his A.B. degree from Stanford University and his M.B.A. from Columbia University. He began working at Hills Bros. Coffee, Inc. as an assistant coffee buyer, then as Assistant Market Research Director, Acting Secretary, Secretary, Vice President, and finally as Chairman of the Board. Austin was a director of the firm from 1960 until 1976 and served as a member of the Finance Committee, the Marketing Policy Committee, and the Executive Committee. Read More
Vice President of Vineyards & Production
Ivo was born in Croatia to a family of grape growers and as boy he assisted in making wine for his family’s enjoyment. However, he didn’t plan on becoming a winemaker. Ivo earned a master’s of science degree in engineering from the University of Zagreb and dreamed of coming to California to work as an engineer.
In 1986, with the help of his uncle, Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, Ivo followed his dream and came to Napa Valley. He quickly fell in love with the scenic beauty of the area and became fascinated with wine making. Ivo decided on a career change and Mike immediately put him to work washing barrels. During his almost-three decades at Grgich Hills Ivo has worked his way up in responsibility, learning the classic style and art of winemaking from his uncle, supported by the tools of science and technology. “There’s nothing in the winery or vineyard that I haven’t done, not just for one day, but really worked at it,” he explains. Read More