A LEGEND | AUTOBIOGRAPHY | Miljenko “Mike” Grgich

A Glass Full of Miracles

The Long-Awaited Autobiography of Napa Valley Legend Miljenko “Mike” Grgich.

Humble Beginnings

In 1923 in an obscure village in Croatia, a little boy named Miljenko was born, the youngest of eleven children. Soon enough, their small world was torn apart by war and their home destroyed. By luck, determination, a few miracles, and with the assistance of kind relatives and friends, Miljenko survived the war years and the rise of Communism. Where others gave up hope, Miljenko nurtured a dream: to one day grow wine in California.

Putting Down New Roots

It was never easy, but Miljenko arrived at his goal when he was still a relatively young man, carrying with him his trademark black beret and a cardboard suitcase containing the wine textbooks he had brought with him from the Old Country, and little else. Miljenko, now “Mike” Grgich had arrived at a Napa Valley that was on the rise.


In 1976, a blind tasting of California and French wines at the Judgment of Paris sent shock waves through the wine-drinking world. The upstart Californians had triumphed over the best of the established French wineries. And at the center of the hubbub was Mike Grgich, who had crafted the winning 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that beat all contenders.

An American Success Story

Mike Grgich went on to co-found Grgich Hills in 1977 with Austin Hills and has been showered with awards and accolades, including inclusion into the Vintners Hall of Fame in 2008. His wines have been served at the White House to presidents, royalty and celebrities. His famous beret and the battered suitcase he carried with him from Croatia now reside in the Smithsonian Institution alongside the winning bottle of 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay. The Smithsonian even included that legendary bottle in “The History of America in 101 Objects”! Mike Grgich’s remarkable story and his passion for wine and for life have made him a legend and a true American success story.

Advance Praise For A Glass Full of Miracles

“Mike Grgich may be small in stature, but he is a giant in the world of wine. His new book dramatically tells his full story, which is a great tale of a dream come true. I heard some of his stories when I was working on my book Judgment of Paris, and in reading his book I felt like I was listening to him tell them again. You hear the voice of Mike come through loud and clear. The book also shows clearly that there are a lot more aspects to Mike’s life than just Cabernet and Chardonnay. It’s a great and fun read.”

George M. Taber, author of “Judgment of Paris”

“Anyone who has spent more than a few minutes with Napa Valley winemaker Mike Grgich knows that he loves to tell stories. This penchant for spinning tales, when combined with the incredibly long, storied life he has led, makes an engaging, almost lyrical memoir that’s entertaining for the average person and compelling for the person who appreciates fine wine or modern history.”

Jim Gordon, Editor, Wines & Vines

“This would be an important oral history of one of Napa Valley’s most famous winemakers even if it were dull. Fortunately, it’s not. Mike Grgich’s voice is personable and his brisk retelling of events puts you right there, whether he’s losing his shirt in a river before an important boyhood religious ceremony, or hoping for the color to return to normal in an important Chardonnay. Mike has lived an amazing life and this book captures it.”
W. Blake Gray, wine columnist and publisher of The Gray Report

“His Old World gumption packed in a flimsy valise, diminutive Miljenko Grgich fled oppression in his native Croatia more than half a century ago to stand tall in the emerging in the emerging California wine industry. His travails and triumphs are laid out by the 92-year-old vintner in an autobiographical page turner that wine enthusiasts all over the world will appreciate. I’m proud to have crossed paths with Mike Grgich and to call him a friend.”
Pierce Carson, Food/Arts/Wine Reporter, Napa Register

“The journey of Miljenko ‘Mike’ Grgich from his homeland, Croatia, to rock star status in California’s Napa Valley is a gripping tale, made all the more inspiring by Mike’s spectacular success as a winemaker. Grgich figured prominently in the dramatic rise of the Napa Valley as the man who made the legendary 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that triumphed at the infamous Judgment of Paris tastings. He went on to even greater acclaim as winemaker/proprietor of Grgich Hills Cellars, an estate that now boasts more than 300 acres of planted vineyards. ‘A Glass Full of Miracles’ is a remarkable story well told.”
Robert Whitley, publisher and managing partner of Wine Review Online and author of “Wine Talk,” a column syndicated nationally by the Creators Syndicate.

“Mike Grgich not only changed the course of the wine world at the Judgment of Paris 40 years ago, but the wines he made – and still makes – have always set a standard for other producers to emulate. Though many California winemakers have followed chic trends over the years, the standard has once again returned to the classic elegance Mike has always espoused. This book helps explain why.”
Paul Franson, publisher of NapaLife and author of The NapaLife Insider’s Guide to Napa Valley

“Even though Grgich is America’s most influential winemaker, this book is more about life than wine. It has lessons for us all—and you needn’t be a wine lover to enjoy it.”
Dr. Michael Apstein, Columnist, winereviewonline.com

“My wife Sheila and I have been great friends with Mike Grgich from his early days at Chateau Montelena in the 1970’s. We were delighted and enjoyed reading his biography of his family and background in this book. It was my privilege to have sponsored Mike to become a Supreme Knight in the SF Bay Area chapter of the Brotherhood of Knights of the Vine. He joined with other California great Supreme Knights such as Robert Mondavi, Julio Gallo, Joseph Heitz, Warren Winiarski, and Andre Tchelistcheff in this honor. The KOV is a member of the International Wine Brotherhoods of the World, FICB.”
Dr. Ron Light, Master Vice Commander, San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Knights of the Vine

The True Story of How One Man Achieved His American Dream

An inductee to the Vintners Hall of Fame, Miljenko “Mike” Grgich is a legend in the world of wine. Over the past 50 years, Mike’s wines, crafted in the classic Old World tradition, have won a stream of international prizes, establishing Grgich Hills Estate as one of the premier wineries in the world. One of Mike’s most celebrated achievements came in 1976 when a Chardonnay he crafted for Chateau Montelena beat the very best wines of France in a now-famous blind tasting in Paris.

In honor of his lifelong achievements, The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History featured Mike Grgich in its first major exhibition on food history. Mike’s accomplishments are also the subject of the documentary “Like The Old Vine” that premiered at the 2012 Napa Valley Film Festival and won the Grand Jury’s Special Award at the 20th annual Oenovideo International Grape & Wine Film Festival in France. In 2013, the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay crafted by Mike was included in Smithsonian’s “101 Objects That Made America.

Turning 93 years old on April 1, 2016, Mike continues to guide Grgich Hills Estate and to plan for its future, focusing on continually improving the quality of the vineyards and wines, always according to his unique artistic and intuitive touch.


We are excited to release the long-awaited autobiography of Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, Napa Valley legend and Vintner Hall of Fame inductee, on his 93rd birthday, April 1, 2016.

A Glass Full of Miracles is a memoir about the triumph of the underdog. Miljenko “Mike” Grgich’s story of his search for freedom and the chance to fulfill his American Dream is intensely personal and told with his characteristic charm and passion. It contains Mike’s personal angle on the major figures in the winemaking ferment of the Napa Valley, and an abundance of stories and lore. But it is more than just a good read: the text, in combination with more than 150 carefully chosen photos and maps, makes this book a moving meditation on the art of a life lived in the pursuit of making the perfect wine.

Violetta Press was created when Miljenko “Mike” Grgich asked his daughter, Violet Grgich, to publish his memoirs.

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