The Gamble of Generations: Investing in a Napa Valley Vineyard & Winery
I’m always fascinated as to how people decide to create businesses. That is especially true back in days when – seemingly – less information was readily at hand. But sometimes, less is more. The Gamble family began farming and ranching in Napa in 1916.
Third generation family farmer Tom Gamble has lived in Napa his whole life, but it wasn’t until 1981 that he purchased a vineyard. I’ve tasted some of the family’s Sauvignon Blancs before, so I was very curious to branch into their reds.
These two were utterly delicious from the moment I popped the cork. While not inexpensive by any means, their prices are very much in line with most Napa Cabernets today. Moreover, they have more reasonable (lower, that is) alcohol and better measured oak than many of the local wines that I tasted when I just visited the region in January for the Masters of Wine Residential Seminars.
The French have a saying that it takes three generations to see the cycle of a family business: one to build it, one to grow it then one to destroy it. I don’t know what the rest of the Gamble family farming business looks like today, but I can say that the “Gamble” of generations has paid off on the wine front. It seems Tom has started a new cycle, without finishing the first one!
Gamble Family Vineyards 2015 Paramount Red Wine Napa Valley 14.2% $90
A bold, smoky-nosed red, this expressive and expansive wine is downright cuddly on the palate. Its broad and easy-going tannins give it gentle structure while some mild, balsamic-like tones bring lift to the back palate. The coconut and toast tones from new oak dominate the bramble-based fruit as the wine open up. On Day 2, the wine was plush with vigorously youthful black plums and black currants. Showing well now, this has several years of enjoyment ahead of it. The biggest portion of this 832-case production wine composed of Cabernet Sauvignon 32%, Cabernet Franc 32%, Merlot 30% and Petit Verdot 6% comes from the Cabernet Sauvignon planted in the Gambles’ Family Home Vineyard in Oakville.
Gamble Family Vineyards 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 14.1% $60
Oakville fruit composes the core of this wine, too. Each sip unfurls an onslaught of punchy, bright fruit flavors. It’s a cornucopia of blackberries, blueberries and cassis! The lingering finish entwines tastes of honey-roasted walnuts, caramel and pipe tobacco. More powerfully structured than the Paramount, the fine tannins feel more muscular and the acidity seems racier. This is a combination of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Malbec, 5% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Winemaker Jim Close has extracted impressive elegance from Napa’s varied terroirs here.