The sturdy wooden or metal shipping trunk is one of the standard symbols of immigration history. Whether carved, painted, held together with leather straps or lock and key, the immigrant's trunk remains an important element in "coming to America" stories.
Grgich was still hoping to get to the U.S., and, in particular, to California, where he had heard about the wine industry. While living in Vancouver, he put an ad looking for work in the Wine Institute bulletin, and was hired by Lee Stewart, of Souverain winery, in the Napa Valley. He finally secured a visa to the U.S. and in 1958 moved to Napa, where he began his career in grape growing and winemaking. Throughout his celebrated career, he kept the scratched and dented cardboard suitcase as a reminder of his long journey to America.
In 2006, Miljenko Grgich donated this suitcase, as well as selected Croatian and German textbooks, an atlas of Old World grape varieties, and other items he had brought with him when he emigrated in the 1950s. He also donated his personal papers to the Museum's Archives Center. These materials join a bottle of 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, the wine made by Grgich that placed first in the 1976 Paris Tasting, and donated by Jim Barrett, the winery's owner, in 1996.
Object Name
Physical Description
cardboard (overall material)
plastic (handle material)
metal (buckles/lock material)
overall: 22 in x 13 1/4 in x 7 in; 55.88 cm x 33.655 cm x 17.78 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Family & Social Life
Artifact Walls exhibit
See more items in
Work and Industry: Food Technology
Artifact Walls exhibit
Food: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Miljenko Grgich

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