Ivan Milicich Snr had few possessions when he left the village of Podgora on the Dalmatian coast, Croatia in 1893, but he had skills, strength and a deep abiding love for his homeland and people. These attributes continue to influence subsequent generations of his family in New Zealand.
For over a decade Ivan Snr worked as a gum-digger and on contract jobs, saving to help his brothers emigrate and to buy his own land. In 1906 he began to grow grapes on his small dairy farm at Ngahinepouri and in 1922 he obtained a license to make and sell wine. This was the beginning of a Waikato family business which is now in its fifth generation. The winery is now known as Vilagrad, where the great-grand sons of Ivan Milicich Snr make award winning wines using both modern and traditional techniques.