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Grgich Hills Estate celebrates the 35th anniversary of The Great Chicago Chardonnay Showdown
By Ken Morris
Published on 04/19/2015

Chicago Tribune called 1977 Chardonnay “The Best Chardonnay in the World”

In 1980 “The Great Chicago Showdown” brought together 221 of the best Chardonnays from around the world. Chardonnays from France, California, New York and even Bulgaria were collected for a historic first, the largest blind tasting of that time of one single varietal. The first vintage that American Croatian Miljenko “Mike” Grgich crafted at Grgich Hills, his 1977 Chardonnay, emerged triumphant with a first place ribbon and the Chicago Tribune called it “The best Chardonnay in the world”! With this win so close on the heels of the famous 1976 Paris Tasting, where the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that Mike made took first place over some of the best French white Burgundies and American Chardonnays, he soon became affectionately known as the “King of Chardonnay.”

Miljenko "Mike" Grgich - the King of Chardonnay

In 2015, Grgich Hills Estate celebrates the 35th anniversary of this historic tasting and its legacy in Chardonnay with vintner dinners across the country, a photo contest, a new mobile application launch and much more, all culminating into two festive gala dinners. The first will be in Chicago on May 7, 2015 and the second in the Napa Valley at the winery on May 16, 2015. Mike Grgich believes these are significant events not just for Chicago and Grgich Hills but for all of America since it proves that “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” Mike's daughter Violet Grgich adds “This is a great opportunity for our winery not only to celebrate my father’s many accomplishments but also Chardonnay, a varietal that is enjoyed and loved by so many people."

#Taste The Legacy - Photo/video contest

Beginning February 1, 2015 and continuing through May 31, 2015 Grgich Hills Estate is enlisting creativity in a photo/video competition for wine lovers to showcase their enthusiasm and passion for Grgich Hills Estate. Each month has its own "Taste the Legacy" contest theme. Competitions for the month of February and March are now closed. Currently the theme for April is “Happy Birthday Mike!” to help celebrate Mike Grgich turning 92 years old on April 1st. The winner for the April competition will receive an iPad Air 2 with an approximate retail value of $500. See for Official Rules and more details.

Each monthly winner from the #Taste The Legacy photo/video contest will enter into the drawer for the Grand Prize. The Grand Prize Winner will receive a 4 day, 3 night round trip for two people (winner and one guest of winner, each of whom must be at least 21 years old) to Napa, CA. Approximate Retail Value of Grand Prize: $3,000.00. Please visit for conditions of entry and more details.

The Great Chicago Chardonnay Showdown Gala Celebration dinners
- Chicago May 7, 2015
It is only fitting that an anniversary celebration will take place in the City where the accolade was won. Violet Grgich will host this historic event with an unforgettable evening of wine, food and friends at the Signature Room at the 95th Floor, John Hancock Center, Chicago, IL . VIP guests expected in attendance will include but not limited to:

  • Mayor of Chicago - Rahm Emanuel;
  • Toni Kukoč retired Chicago Bulls basketball player;
  • Archbishop of Chicago Blase J. Cupich;
  • Sam Toia, President, Illinois Restaurant Association;
  • Josip Paro, Croatia’s Ambassador to United States;
  • Jelena Grčić Polić, Consul General of the Republic of Croatia in Chicago; and
  • Craig Goldwyn: wine writer for Chicago Tribune in 1980 who organized and judged the Great Chicago Showdown.

-Napa Valley May 16,2015

Miljenko “Mike” Grgich and Violet Grgich will host the celebrations at the Grgich Hills Estate, Rutherford, CA.

Violet and Mike Grgich

Both evenings will include a multi-course dinner paired with current and vintage Grgich Hills Estate wines, with a "roaring 20's theme": fedoras, bow ties and pearls encouraged and dancing shoes are recommended! Tickets for both events can be purchased from

American Croatian Day Celebrations

Violet Grgich will also be present at the annual Croatian American Day celebrations in Chicago, on Friday May 8, 2015. The Annual celebrations will include Croatian food, pastries, folk dancing, arts and crafts and run from 10 AM to 3 PM, Daley Plaza (50 W. Washington), Chicago. While in Chicago, Violet will also meet with Croatian American artist Tatiana Cameron Tajči, as a guest on Tajči's online multi-platform show Waking up in America.

Formatted for CROWN by Marko Puljic
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