Our drive from San Francisco to Napa was approximately 1 1/2 hours – not too bad. We decided to not waste any time and head straight to Grgich Hills Estate. This was my winery choice. My background is Croatian and Grgich Hills winery owner Mike, is Croatian as well.
Miljenko “Mike” Grgich first gained international recognition at the celebrated “Paris Tasting” of 1976. Then, in a now-historic blind tasting, a panel of eminent French judges swirled, sniffed, and sipped an array of the fabled white Burgundies of France and a small sampling of upstart Chardonnays from the Napa Valley. When their scores were tallied, the French judges were shocked: they had chosen the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, crafted by Mike Grgich, as the finest white wine in the world. Mon Dieu! The results stunned the international wine establishment and immediately earned Mike a reputation as one of the greatest winemakers in the world.
“Grgich Hills Estate is an iconic Napa Valley winery, consistently producing world-class wines. Committed to natural winegrowing and sustainability, we farm five estate vineyards without artificial pesticides or herbicides, rely on wild yeast fermentation and use our passion and art to handcraft food-friendly, balanced and elegant wines. Our portfolio of wines consist of three distinct tiers.”
Of course when we arrived my husband spotted the grapes that were about to be crushed…….you know he had to try them.
Once we entered the tasting room there were shelves of wine barrels.
We walked over to the tasting bar where we were greeted by our host who would be taking us through our tasting. We decided to go with the Napa Valley Flight that included 5 different wine tastings for $25 USD per person. The wine servings were very generous for a tasting.
Although we usually drink red wines, Grgich Hills is known as the King of Chardonnay.
Out of all the wineries we visited, this was the only winery that offered crackers with their wine tastings. When you are drinking several glasses of wine it is nice to have something light to eat in between tastings.
Chardonnay, Napa Valley: $43 USD
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.
Fumé Blanc, Napa Valley: $31 USD
The Wine: Relying on naturally-occurring yeasts, we fermented 80% of the grapes in 900-gallon French oak casks, called foudres, with the remainder in previously- used small French oak barrels. We then aged the wine six months on its lees (the spent yeast) in neutral barrels. The combination of the right clones and cool growing region produced juicy tropical fruit and lemongrass flavors with a touch of minerality at the end of a long finish that are perfect with a wide range of food, including grilled seafood, chicken, oysters, creamy pastas dishes and summer salads.
The Wine: This is a Cabernet lover’s Merlot! Its bright flavours of strawberries, cherries, licorice and a hint of coffee are wrapped in a velvety texture that make your taste buds ask for more! The wine’s firm tannins and vibrant acidity create the perfect partner with beef tenderloin, rack of lamb, duck and barbecued pork.
Zinfandel, Napa Valley: $36 USD
The Wine: We co-fermented the Zinfandel with a touch of Petite Sirah to add complexity and structure and then aged the wine in large oak casks so the flavors are well integrated but not overwhelmed by oak. This food-friendly Zinfandel’s fresh flavors of ripe blackberries, black cherries and a hint of pepper on the long finish is the perfect match for grilled meats with barbecue sauce, sausage pizza and hearty pastas.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley: $69
The Wine: We believe in minimal intervention winemaking, fermenting the grapes with indigenous yeast at moderate temperatures that allow 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 o 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.
We enjoyed all of the wines. We purchased a bottle of the Merlot and Zinfandel to bring home since these are hard to find in Toronto.
After our tasting we walked around the grounds.
Rows and rows of grapes.
There was a gentleman that was kind enough to ask if we wanted him to take our picture – after he saw us struggling trying to take a selfie.
We had a great time at Grgich Estates. The winery has a warm, welcoming feel. I already want to go back.
Okay……off to the next winery.