Grgich Hills Winery
The Grgich Hills Winery is located in the heart of Napa Valley in the town of Rutherford. The winery is right on Hwy 29 which is the main artery traveling along the western edge of the valley. The tasting room is open daily from 9:30am – 4:30pm. This is one of the “old dog” wineries so it has location, location, location. If you see the wine train, you almost had to drive passed Grgich Hills.
Grgich Hills is definitely a winery to put on your list of “must visits” if you ever come to the valley. Grgich Hills, and more specifically Mike Grgich, played a central role in the history of making Napa Valley, the wine-mecca of the United States. The story goes back to 1976, a wine competition in Paris and a huge award. (Actually its awards plural but that is the long version of this story.) Mike Grgich was the winemaker that shocked the wine world in 1976 while working with Chateau Montelena and soon after opened his own winery with some help from the pretty hefty coffee company named Hills Brothers. Since 1977, Mike Grgich has been making great wine in Napa Valley and he can still be seen in the winery to this day. Well actually, its a cardboard cut out of the famous winemaker that you will see in front of their barrels but you are welcome to take a picture with it. I was lucky enough to catch the the 90 year old legend cruising through the winery on a week day when I stopped by to taste in July of this year. He seemed to be there doing some work in the back but made sure to take the time to chat with some tasters, sign their bottles and take a few photos. Talk about a gift for a wine snob. How about a bottle of their Chardonnay signed by the legend himself.
The Grgich Hills tasting room not as large as it appears from the street. It has multiple counters for visitors to taste but can get very crowded, especially during peak season. Do not expect a warm welcome or overly friendly staff. Like most Napa Valley wineries, tasting has left the pleasantries of sharing a casual glass of wine behind. This is a business, tastings are expensive which makes them profitable. This is what you should expect from most places in the valley so don’t be insulted. The folks pouring are very knowledgable so have your questions ready because they won’t likely be standing in front of you very long unless you visit mid-week. My suggestion, if you are visiting the valley, definitely put Grgich Hills on your list. Plan for as early as possible for mid-week so it isn’t so crowded. Make sure you don’t leave without taking a picture with the cut out and definitely taste their Chardonnay.
1829 Saint Helena Highway
Rutherford, CA 94573
How to get there:
Travel South from Sacramento on CA-99. Exit CA-99 on Acampo Road, just as you enter Lodi. Turn Right on Acampo Road from the freeway. About 1 mile from the freeway, you will cross a railroad crossing, (look for the large building to your right with the sign “McCormack-Williamson Winery – that’s the building” just after the tracks, turn Right on N Sycamore Road and an immediate Right on Orange Street. Orange Street will lead into the gate that leads directly to the Dancing Coyote Tasting Room. It looks like and industrial entrance but you are in the right place. Look for the brick archway and you are there!