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Legendary Croatian Winemaker Wins 2018 James Beard Award in America

Grgich Hills Estate (Photo: Facebook)

Legendary Croatian-American winemaker Miljenko ‘Mike’ Grgich has been honoured at the prestigious 2018 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards in Chicago last night.

The James Beard Awards are considered among the highest honours in the American restaurant community and are often called the “Oscars of the food world”.

Miljenko Grgich, who just turned 95 and owns Grgich Hills Estate in California, won the award for Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional.

Born in Desne on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast, Grgich studied viticulture and enology in Zagreb. He moved to America in his 30s via Canada and Germany after receiving a job offer from a winery in California.

Mike Grgich (Photo: Grgich Wines)

After working at a number of wineries in the Napa Valley Grgich became the winemaker and limited partner at Chateau Montelena. His 1973 vintage Chardonnay was selected to compete in the historic Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, where it was ranked the number one white wine.

He then established his own winery, Grgich Hills Cellar in Rutherford, California. The winery owns 366 acres of vineyards and produces over 70,000 cases of wine each year. In recognition of his contributions to the wine industry, Grgich was inducted into the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintner’s Hall of Fame.

Check out all the winners from last night’s awards here.

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