The family started off in Napa Valley growing walnuts, dates, and a small selection of grapes in the 1950s. That’s when Dr. Lewis Gibbs Carpenter Jr., a lifelong farmer and psychologist with a history rooted in the cattle ranches of Gilroy, moved to Saint Helena and bought land on the valley floor. An agriculturalist at heart, Lewis’ expansive orchards and personal garden were a testament to his hard-working attitude and dedication to Napa Valley’s natural resources. By the 1970s, he had replaced most of the nut and fruit orchards with several Bordeaux varietals of grapes, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Merlot, all of which were beginning to gain international attention following the Judgement of Paris in 1976.
It wasn’t until the year 2000 that Craig Handly, Lewis’ son-in-law who was working in the valley as a label designer at the time with his wife Susan, began making wine from Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes grown by Lewis. These first batches, made in a tank kept in their barn, were the beginning of Craig’s new career as a winemaker. Over the next decade, he honed his skills while making private label wines and bottling under his first labels, Terroir Napa Valley and Sentall. It wasn’t until Lewis passed away in 2013 that they introduced Gibbs, an expression of the quality of fruit that Lewis passionately grew for 60 years. To this day, their Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon Blanc come from the same vineyards planted by Lewis over forty years ago.
Delicate floral notes, vanilla bean, a hint of stone fruit, and lightly toasted French oak seamlessly carry into a body full of Bosc pear, honeydew melon, juicy nectarine, and subtle salted caramel pretzel. With its voluptuous texture, the wine leans to that of a classic Napa Valley Chardonnay with just enough fresh acid to help accentuate the fruit and drive a lengthy finish.
On the nose there are aromas of ripe black cherries and dusty French oak with a textured mid-palate bursting with plum, juicy dark fruits, and notes of black pepper. Soft, sizable tannins make for a smooth and silky finish.
Staying true to it’s warm-climate roots, Gibbs 2015 Napa Valley Merlot offers heaps of ripe red fruits and warm spice on the nose. Fresh plucked raspberry, juicy red plum, and fresh cranberry are layered over French oak, subtle cedar tones, and a hint of white pepper. Fresh acidity brings balance to the fruit filled body, while fine tannins make for a silky-smooth medium length finish.