Violet’s passion for wine began at an early age, as she literally grew up accompanying her father, Vintners Hall of Fame inductee Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, in the vineyards and cellar. She spent her summers at the winery, doing everything from bottling line work to laboratory analysis and working in the tasting room.
Attending the University of California, Davis, Violet earned a BA in music while taking classes in biology, chemistry, and enology. After graduation, she returned home to Grgich Hills to continue her education in the wine business, learning about daily operations of the winery from her father, Miljenko “Mike” Grgich. She received her Master of Music in harpsichord at Indiana University, and then joined the winery fulltime in 1988. She’s now responsible for daily management of the winery, as well as sales and marketing. She says that she has the ideal job: “I believe that wine is part of a healthy, happy and long life. Wine brings people together and makes them happy, which makes my job extraordinarily fulfilling.”
Involved with every aspect of the wine business, Violet enjoys wearing many different hats, often at the same time. She explains, “My dad insisted that in order to lead the winery I needed to work at every single position, starting at the bottom.” Violet continues to enjoy learning something new each day and following her grandfather’s and father’s philosophy of “Every day do something just a little better.”
MILJENKO MIKE GRGICH
Founder and Winemaker Emeritus | Vintners Hall of Fame Inductee | James Beard Award Winner
Vintners Hall of Fame inductee Miljenko “Mike” Grgich first earned world-wide recognition when the Chardonnay he crafted won the 1976 Paris Tasting, beating the best of France. This tasting helped shatter the myth that only French soil could produce the world’s greatest wines and drawing international attention to Napa Valley wines. Mike then partnered with Austin Hills to open their family-owned-and-operated winery in 1977.
Today, his famous beret, the suitcase he carried to America and a bottle of his 1973 Chardonnay that won the Paris Tasting are on display in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. In addition, a Croatian TV documentary about his life, “Like the Old Vine,” won the Grand Jury’s Special Award from France’s Oenovideo Film Festival.
Discover how Mike achieved his “American Dream,” traveling from his remote village in Croatia to becoming a celebrated winemaker in the Napa Valley. He was born in 1923 and celebrated his 100th birthday in 2023.