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FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000

Immigrant Winemaker

In 1949, Miljenko (Mike) Grgich began his studies in viticulture and enology at the University of Zagreb in the former Yugoslavia (now Croatia). In 1954, fearful of political unrest, he fled and in 1958 he found his way to California. Grgich worked with various winemakers including André Tchelistcheff and Robert Mondavi. In 1972, he began working at Chateau Montelena, where, only a year later, he made the Chardonnay that placed first in the Paris tasting. In 1977, he and his business partners established Grgich Hills Estate in Napa Valley.

Winemaker Mike Grgich, 1974

Winemaker Mike Grgich, 1974

Courtesy of Mike Grgich


When he left Yugoslavia, Grgich carried this suitcase filled with his agriculture and winemaking books (see below). Gift of Miljenko (Mike) Grgich.

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Serif Bubic: Specijalno Voc'Arstvo (textbook on orchard plantings)

Bolesti I Stetnici: Ratarskog Bilja (textbook on plant diseases, pests, and farming)

Da Li Znate Engleski? ("Do You Know English?")


Mike Grgich’s European roots are reflected in his favorite headgear. Gift of Miljenko (Mike) Grgich.

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Grgich used this instrument for determining the alcoholic strength of wine samples by observing the temperature at which the sample boiled. Gift of Miljenko (Mike) Grgich.

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