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Legendary Winemaker Mike Grgich, Key Figure in the Judgement of Paris, Passes Away at 100, Leaving a Lasting Impact on the Global Wine Community

CorkRules | Dec 18, 2023

It is with a heavy heart that we bid farewell to the legendary winemaker, Miljenko "Mike" Grgich. His passing marks an end of an era in the world of wine; his legacy, however, will continue to inspire generations.

Born and raised in Croatia, Mike found his passion for wine at a young age. His journey led him across oceans where he became instrumental in putting Napa Valley on the global viticulture map. In 1976, at what came to be known as The Judgement of Paris - one of the most pivotal moments in modern wine history - Mike's Chateau Montelena Chardonnay outshone its French counterparts. This monumental victory not only brought international recognition for California wines but also shattered preconceived notions about New World Wines.

Grgich Hills Estate was born soon after this historic event and quickly gained fame for producing some of America’s finest wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Merlot alongside their signature Chardonnay. Each bottle crafted under Mike's meticulous supervision bore testimony to his commitment towards quality over quantity – a principle that won them numerous accolades including consistent 90+ scores from critics such as Wine Spectator and Robert Parker.

But even amidst all these achievements abroad, Mike never forgot his roots. He returned home to Croatia establishing Grgić Vina on the Pelješac Peninsula where he produced Posip (white) and Plavac Mali (red), bringing international attention back onto Croatian wines.

The impact left by Mike Grgich extends beyond just awards or high critic scores; it lies within every vineyard inspired by his sustainable farming practices; within every sommelier who appreciates the balance between tradition and innovation; within every sip savored by a connoisseur who recognizes quality when they taste it.

As we mourn this great loss today let us also celebrate what he stood for – a testament to the power of passion, hard work and an unwavering belief in one's craft. We raise our glasses to you, Mike Grgich - for teaching us that wine is not just about tasting notes or vintage years but about people, places and stories. Your life’s work has forever changed the landscape of winemaking; your spirit will continue to inspire it.

Rest in peace, dear maestro. The world of wine is richer because of you.

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