April 2012

Ultra Violet

By: Meridith May

Magnetic personality: Violet Grgich is the only daughter of Mike Grgich, whose 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay bested the top white Burgundies to win first place in the 1976 Paris Tasting. His own winery, Grgich Hills Cellars, founded in 1977, changed its name in 2007 to Grgich Hills Estate in recognition of its Napa Valley property. “My father is still very much in charge. This is not about the next generation taking over and saying ‘Let’s go crazy.’”
Violet Grgich radiates energy. On the road as many as four times in one month, the youngest daughter of wine icon Mike Grgich, leads the national sales program, working with distributors, organizing consumer events and producing vintner dinners. Ultimately, she believes, it’s more about marketing than about sales.

Look at us—we’re guilty of wanting to meet the woman behind the brand. “I may be a hermit when I’m tasting in the cellar or in the lab,” Violet tells THE TASTING PANEL, “but when I’m out and about, I am creating relationships and getting people to taste our wines. My dad learned from his own father that if you do nothing else but make one friend a day, you’ll have 365 friends at the end of every year. That was his approach to sales and marketing.”

And, unlike gaining friends on Facebook that you harvest but hardly know, the Grgich approach to hospitality sure worked for us.  

Tasting with Violet

The Grgiches are truly stewards of their land. Backed by an estate that is five vineyards strong (366 acres, all certified organic and Biodynamic) and rich in history and wine lore, their family-owned winery, founded in 1977, is one of Napa’s most revered. A European style of wine—texturally lighter and more elegant, with a characteristic racy acidity—defines Grgich Hills.

Here are two of our highlights:

Grgich Hills Estate 2009 Estate Grown Chardonnay, Napa Valley (SRP $42) Violet Grgich says preventing ML is important in this blend of five clones, grown in the winery’s estate vineyards in American Canyon and Carneros, at the southern tip of Napa Valley. “We already have plenty of sunshine and we can get as much sugar as we need, along with natural acidity.” What we love: the brioche nose, apple-crisp middle and voluptuous soul. Released mid-February 2012.

Grgich Hills Estate 2007 Merlot, Napa Valley (SRP $42) Notes of bacon fat whetted our appetites. The wine is lean and structured, but with depth and vitality, and is also blessed with a perfume of cherry oak. Blended from four different Napa Valley growing regions. Just a hint of Cab Sauvignon is added.


“My dad did not name this after me because I’m so sweet. I actually think I’m rather tart!”

Grgich Hills Estate 2008 Late Harvest “Violetta,” Napa Valley (SRP $85), is sweet but not cloying. Picked at an average of 36.1 Brix, it’s surprisingly clean and refreshing. A field blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Gewürztraminer, the 375-ml. bottle should be reserved for any pleasurable moment—with or without ice cream on top!

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