NAPA (CBS SF) – Violet’s passion for wine began at an early age, as she literally grew up accompanying her father, Vintners Hall of Fame inductee Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, 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 her father, Miljenko “Mike” Grgich. 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.”
Involved with every aspect of the wine business, Violet enjoys wearing many different hats, often at the same time. She explains, “My dad insisted that in order to lead the winery I needed to work at every single position, starting at the bottom.” Violet continues to enjoy learning something new each day and following her grandfather’s and father’s philosophy of “Every day do something just a little better.”
Her father’s memoir “A glass full of miracles” is an inspiring and riveting read. It tells the amazing story of his early days in war torn Yugoslavia (now Croatia) and how he fulfilled his American dream. Mike Grgich helped put Napa wines on the world map after winning the judgement of Paris in 1976 with a 1973 Chateau Montalena chardonnay. Napa has never looked back.
Violet shares her story and her father’s amazing journey in wine in our Foodie Chap chat taped recently at Grgich Hill Estate in Napa. While there I enjoyed the wine stomp – a must do experience around harvest where visitors stomp wine grapes in an barrel, then imprint their wine stained feet on a T-shirt. The $30 experience includes a glass of wine and a wine country memento for life from one of California’s best wineries.
Grgich Hills Estate
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley, Estate Grown
- Alcohol 14.6%
- pH 3.63
- Total acidity 5.7g/L
- Fermentation: Indigenous yeast. 4 weeks of skin contact
- Aging: 21 months in French oak, 60% new
- Harvest dates: Sep. 18-Oct.11, 2013
- Brix at harvest: 24.8 °average
- Varietal blend: 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot 5% Petit Verdot
- 4% Cabernet Franc
- Bottling date: June 2015
- Release date: May 1, 2016
- Case production: 16,361 cases 750ml
- SRP: $69
Vintage: We enjoyed a beautiful vintage in 2013 with consistent sunshine and moderate temperatures that grapes love. After a wet start to winter in 2012, spring was warmer than usual, triggering an early bud break and flowering and fruit set under sunny skies. With only one heat spike in late June/early July, Napa’s typical warm days and cool nights produced healthy vines. We started harvesting about two weeks earlier than usual and never seemed to stop with grapes coming in at a steady pace.
Vineyards: Our Yountville Vineyard forms the heart of our Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, with grapes from our Rutherford and Calistoga vineyards rounding out the blend. We farm all of our vineyards naturally, without artificial pesticides or herbicides, and they are certified organic. The result is a full-bodied, elegant Cabernet Sauvignon with pure flavors and a pronounced sense of place.
The wine: We believe in minimal intervention winemaking, fermenting the grapes with indigenous yeast at moderate temperatures that allows the wine to gain flavors and color from extended skin contact. Each lot is aged separately for several months, and then blended to create a wine that is more complex than the individual parts. After blending, the wine spent another year and half in barrel to completely harmonize before bottling.
The wine’s complex flavors of black currants, clove and mocha are topped off by licorice. Its full bodied, rich mouthfeel carries these flavors for a long, lingering finish that loves seared steak, Gorgonzola gnocchi, beef bourguignon and ratatouille.
Grgich Hills Estate
Napa Valley, Estate Grown
- Alcohol 14.1 %
- pH 3.29
- Total acidity 6.6g/L
- Sugar at harvest 23.5 ° Brix average
- Fermentation: Indigenous yeast.
- Fermented and aged 10 months in French oak: 60% neutral barrels, 40% new.
- Harvest dates: Aug 30-Sep. 13, 2013
- Bottling date: July/August 2014
- Release date: March 2016
- Production: 30,300 cases of 750ml
Vintage: The 2013 vintage was nearly perfect, with consistent sunshine and moderate temperatures. After a wet start to winter in 2012, spring was warmer than usual, triggering an early bud break and flowering and fruit set under sunny skies. With only one heat spike in late June/early July, Napa’s typical warm days and cool nights created wonderfully flavorful grapes. We started harvesting about two weeks early than usual and never seemed to stop with grapes coming in at a steady pace.
Vineyard: Our Chardonnay thrives in our American Canyon and Carneros vineyards in the southern tip of Napa Valley, near San Pablo Bay, which spills into the San Francisco Bay. The cool maritime breezes and morning fog allow the grapes to slowly ripen to develop complex flavors while maintaining a pleasing natural acidity that is impossible to achieve in warmer areas. We farm all of our vineyards naturally, without artificial pesticides or herbicides, and they are certified organic.
The wine: Miljenko “Mike” Grgich has been called “The King of Chardonnay” since the winery began in 1977, and you can taste why in this classically-styled wine. We did not allow the Chardonnay to undergo malolactic fermentation, preserving its natural acidity. The wine displays ripe peach, mango and tropical flavors, with a note of minerality. Enjoy with fresh seafood, roasted chicken, grilled pork, and creamy cheeses.
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