When Mike Grgich came to the Napa Valley decades ago, the $32 of life savings in his pocket wasn’t enough to fill an average gas tank these days, but this Calistoga resident learned the value of a dollar and the importance of an education. He has partnered with The James Beard Foundation to offer a new scholarship to a wine professional.
It is Grgich’s humble beginnings and emphasis on the importance of education that inspired Grgich and his winery Grgich Hills Estate to create the “American Dream” Scholarship to provide young wine professionals an opportunity to succeed.
“We wanted to share my dad’s success and legacy in a meaningful way and The James Beard Foundation’s mission and educational pursuits resonate strongly with us” said Violet Grgich, daughter and vice president of operations.
Miljenko “Mike” Grgich turned 91 on April 1, the same date the scholarship offering was officially posted on the foundation’s website. An image of Grgich appeared in Times Square announcing the scholarship, too.
Grgich has another scholarship, the Miljenko Grgich Wine Studies Scholarship for students of the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone’s Accelerated Wine and Beverage Certificate Program. Winners must have a minimum GPA of 3.0, be already working in the wine or hospitality fields and submit a short essay on their dream position.
Applicants for the American Dream scholarship must be planning to enroll or currently be enrolled in an accredited wine studies program. Go to JamesBeard.org for more information.
Grgich, a Vintner Hall of Fame inductee, created the fund in 2006.
“I feel I am the luckiest man alive to have my dream come true of making wine in California,” Grgich said. “This scholarship allows me to help the next generation achieve their own dreams by starting a foundation for professional wine studies.”
Grgich was able to fulfill his American dream first by having his 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay win the 1976 Paris Tasting and then by founding his own winery, Grgich Hills Estate in 1977. A bottle of the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay is currently displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History along with his signature beret, original suitcase and textbooks, and was included in the book “The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects.” For his contributions to the wine industry, Grgich was inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame in 2008.
May 24 is the 38th anniversary of the famed Paris Tasting, and this year Grgich will release his Paris Tasting Commemorative Chardonnay, with a portion of sales during this “Day for Peace” to benefit Roots of Peace.
Grgich has been a longtime supporter of Roots of Peace and its mission of replacing landmines with grapevines in war-torn regions worldwide. In commemoration, the winery will donate 5 percent of all purchases during this day for peace.
The public is invited to join the Grgich family at the winery to celebrate the release of the newest vintage with an afternoon devoted to wine paired with small bites. The afternoon event, from noon to 3 p.m., will also feature live music by jazz legend Mike Morris. Tickets are $65 per person for Wine Club members, $75 for the general public and $85 for reserved. They are available at the door. Grgich Hills Estate is 1829 St. Helena Highway in Rutherford. Make reservations at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (800) 532-3057.