Napa Valley-based Gamble Family Vineyards Bids Farewell to Founding Winemaker Jim Close and Welcomes Philippe Melka and Maayan Koschitzky of Atelier Melka as Winemakers

(June 28, 2022; Oakville, CA)—Tom Gamble, one of Napa Valley’s leading winemakers, producers and advocates of regenerative agriculture, is pleased to announce the appointment of Philippe Melka and Maayan Koschitzky of Atelier Melka as winemakers, effective January 1. June. Jim Close, who has been the founding winemaker since Gamble’s first vintage in 2005, will work with the Melka team to help transition winemaking duties.

“I am very proud of the wines and the winemaking and cellar team we have built at Gamble Family Vineyards over the past 17 years. I look forward to continuing to act as a resource for Atelier Melka, Tom and our in-house winemaking team during the transition and into the future,” says Close. “I believe the intrinsic quality of the wines will improve under new management, as the best of the old and the best of the new team are assimilated,” he adds.

The team’s transition comes at a crucial time in Gamble Family Vineyards’ wine production trajectory. In the coming years, Gamble plans to launch a new line of AVA-specific wines based on its sustainably farmed vineyards in Oakville, Mt. Veeder and Rutherford. Additionally, Gamble’s flagship wine, Paramount, will be further enhanced based on both farming, sourcing and selection in the cellar.

Melka is considered one of Napa Valley’s most respected winemaking consultants and comes to Gamble with over 25 years of Napa Valley winemaking experience. He was trained and influenced by some of the most notable personalities in the wine world such as Jean Delmas and Jean Philippe Masclef from Haut-Brion, Christian Moueix and Jean Claude Berrouet from Petrus, Paul Draper from Ridge, Daniel Baron from Silver Oak and globetrotting wine consultant Michel Rolland, with whom he continues to work on consulting projects. In 1994 he returned to Napa full time and has since served as a winemaking consultant for some of Napa’s most highly regarded properties under his company Atelier Melka, which he founded in 1995.

Koschitzky was born and raised in Israel where he practiced judo from the age of four until he joined the army at the age of 18. He served in the IDF for nearly four years as a paratrooper. After leaving the army, Koschitzky traveled the world for a few years and began to feel the call of wine. He got his start working at some of Israel’s leading wineries, including Margalit Winery. Koschitzky moved to Napa in 2011 and amassed an impressive winemaking resume from Screaming Eagle to Dalla Valle, working alongside some of the best and most coveted winemakers. terroirs in the world. In early 2014, he joined Atelier Melka as Winemaking Director.

The announcement of Gamble’s new winemaking team comes just over a year after Raymond Reyes was recruited as director of viticulture and cellar relations.

“We are delighted to have Philippe and Maayan on board,” said Tom Gamble. “As we have and continue to replant our vineyard properties, we do so in the spirit of improving quality and sustainability. Coupled with these intense viticultural efforts, I am certain that the expertise of the Melka team will continue to raise the wines of Gamble Family Vineyards in the years to come.

About Gamble Family Vineyards:

Founded by third-generation farmer Tom Gamble in 2005, Gamble Family Vineyards owns approximately 175 acres of prime vineyards from many of Napa’s most respected AVAs – Oakville, Mt. Veeder, Rutherford and Yountville. Its invite-only winery and tasting room has a quiet presence, sitting modestly in a secluded nook off Highway 29 in the heart of the Oakville AVA in Napa Valley. Set back from the main road, Gamble’s mission here is to carry on the agricultural legacy his ancestors sowed when they came to Napa as cattle ranchers in 1916. With a primary focus on Bordeaux varietals, including Sauvignon Blanc, all of the Gamble family’s vineyards’ wines are produced in small batches, with careful attention to ageing. Gamble Family Vineyards offers four wholesale/distribution wines, including Rosé ($26), Gamble Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc ($35), Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($60), and Paramount Proprietary Red Blend ($90).

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Elisha A. Tilghman