Man on a Mission
Croatian President Stipe Mesic visits San Francisco to attract U.S. investment, meets with local Croatian American community and finds time for some gardening
President Mesic and Mike Grgich planted a vine commemorating Roots of Peace efforts in Croatia - a campaign to replace mines with vines
In a bid to promote joint economic ventures between his country and U.S. investors, and entice Americans to visit Croatia, President Stjepan Mesic traveled to California April 8-10, 2006. Mesic's trip to the West Coast also included meeting with some of the 50,000 Croatians in the San Francisco Bay area at a reception at the Croatian-American Cultural Center to inform them of the latest developments in Croatia's efforts towards EU and NATO membership. During his visit Mesic expressed his satisfaction with the level and quality of Croatian-U.S. cooperation. The President's itinerary also included speaking before the World Affairs Council in San Francisco on the role of small nations on the 21st century international political scene, an interview for the San Francisco Chronicle and a meeting with former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz.
One of the highlights of Mesic's visit was a meeting with famed Napa Valley winemaker Miljenko “Mike” Grgich on April 9, 2006, with whom he planted a vine commemorating Roots of Peace efforts in Croatia - a campaign to replace mines with vines - in front of Grgich Hills Cellar in Rutherford, CA.
Not only is Grgich one of United States’ best-known winemakers, he is a Croatian who is equally well known in his homeland for winemaking and for his support of Roots of Peace - a humanitarian non-profit organization dedicated to the eradication of landmines by returning de-mined land to productive agricultural use. Heidi Kuhn, President of Roots of Peace, attended the vine planting at Grgich Hills Cellar. Kuhn had just returned from New York City where she joined Mrs. Kofi Annan at the United Nations for the inaugural UN Landmine Awareness Day on April 4, 2006. Grgich also owns a winery in Croatia called Grgic Vina and was instrumental in establishing that the origins of Zinfandel can be traced back to the Croatian grape variety Crljenak. “I’m honored that the president came to my vineyard to show his support for Roots of Peace,” said Grgich. “We had an overcast sky but the sun broke through the clouds just long enough for us to plant the vine. I think that is a blessing from heaven on our efforts.” Echoing the president’s invitation for Americans to visit his homeland, Grgich added, “Croatia is a beautiful country that is perfect for a vacation. In fact, my daughter, Violet, is leading a tour that’s taking a spectacular cruise along the Dalmatian Coast in August.”