The beautiful Tropica Restaurant on the beach in Kaanapali at the Westin Maui will be the backdrop of a lovely Grgich Wine Dinner hosted by none other than Violet Grgich. (call Tropica at 808-667-2525 to reserve and check the menu out below) I had the opportunity to have a chat with her and ask about what makes a wine girl like Violet grow.
Maui Dish: Growing up on a vineyard did you always love the business or was there a time when you thought you might do something else?
Violet Grgich: I spent my summer vacations at the winery, doing everything from bottling line work to laboratory analysis and working in the tasting room. I did receive a Master of Music in harpsichord at Indiana University, but wine has always been a part of my life and I joined the winery fulltime in 1988.
MD: Tell me a little bit about what some of the challenges in the winery business are.
VG: People forget we are an agricultural product: every vintage is different but that also is very exciting.
MD: What inspires you about creating wine?
VG: Wine has always been shared with friends and family and that’s who we think of when we make our wines.
MD: What are some of the wines Grgich is most known for?
VG: My father, Miljenko “Mike” Grgich crafted the Chardonnay that won the 1976 Paris Tasting, where California wines defeated the best of France. Ever since, Mike has been known as the “King of Chardonnay” and we’ve gone on to win countless awards for our other wines, too.
MD: What are some of the distinctions in how Grgich makes their wines?
VG: We are a family owned and operated winery, begun by my father and Austin Hills. Today, we are completely estate owned, meaning we control every aspect from the farming of our grapes, to picking to aging the wine and bottling the wine at the winery. Our grapes are certified organic and Biodynamic, meaning we do not use any artificial pesticides or herbicides in the vineyard.
MD: What are the challenges of being a female in the wine making business?
VG: Back when I was much younger, it was certainly more unusual to be a female in the industry. Being part of a family business (and an only child), I never thought twice about it. These days, most “cult” winemakers seem to be women, and many of the prominent sommeliers seem to be female.
MD: What are some of the goals for Grgich in the upcoming years?
VG: Continuing to increase our quality every year by making wines that are even more balanced and food-friendly, and continuing to make as many friends as possible
MD: How often do you get to visit Maui?
VG: Not often enough! once a year, or so. Since my first visit when I was 18, it’s always been one of my favorite places.
The menu for the dinner:
Passed Pupus Black Mussels, Avocado Mousse, Fresno Chili Preserve Seared Beef Poke, Kamuela Tomato Gazpacho Opakapaka Ceviche, Curried Plantains 3 small sample cocktails from Freddy–Tropica Mixologist 1st Course Fantasia Goat Cheese and Yukon Potato Soufflé Kapalua Baby Beet Jam 2009 Grgich Hills Estate Fume Blanc 2nd Rice Cracker Crusted Diver Scallops Golden Raisin and Caper Emulsion, Thai Basil Cauliflower Puree 2008 Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay 3rd Braised Short Rib Carrot Curry Brule, Mustard Greens with Lardoons, Green and White Anuhea Asparagus Bouquet with Balsamic Pomegranate Reduction 2008 Grgich Hills Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Dessert Milk Chocolate Lava Cake Espresso Gelato, Thyme Anglaise 2006 Grgich Hills Estate Merlot