After 55 harvests in Napa Valley, Mikjenko “Mike” Grgich, who turns 90 in April, was one of the California winemakers represented when the Smithsonian National Museum of American History opened its first major exhibition on food history, “Food: Transforming the American Table 1950–2000,” on Nov. 20.
A major section of the exhibition focuses on the revolution in American wine in the second half of the 20th century. It features the 1973 chardonnay Grgich made that won the 1976 Judgment of Paris tasting, which brought U.S. wines to the attention of the world. The exhibit also includes the small cardboard suitcase Grgich traveled with when he left Croatia, his winemaking textbooks and his famous beret.
The exhibit explores some of the major changes in food and eating in postwar America. Julia Child’s kitchen, which she donated to the museum in 2001 along with its hundreds of tools, appliances and furnishings, serves as the opening story of “Food,” demonstrating Child’s influence on the culinary field, food television and the ways many Americans think about food and cooking.
Violet Grgich represented her father at the exhibit’s opening reception on Nov. 18 and presented Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay and late harvest Violetta wines at a press preview dinner on Nov. 19.