Home Industry News Releases Napa Valley-Based Gamble Family Vineyards Bids Adieu to Founding Winemaker Jim Close,...

Napa Valley-Based Gamble Family Vineyards Bids Adieu to Founding Winemaker Jim Close, and Welcomes Atelier Melka’s Philippe Melka and Maayan Koschitzky as Winemakers


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

“I am very proud of the wines and the winemaking and cellar team we have built at Gamble Family Vineyards over the last 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 that the intrinsic quality of the wines will improve under new stewardship, as the best of the old and the best of the new team are assimilated,” he adds.

The team’s transition comes at an integral time in the wine producing trajectory of Gamble Family Vineyards. In the coming years, Gamble plans to release a new AVA-specific tier of wines based on his sustainably farmed estate-vineyards in Oakville, Mt. Veeder and Rutherford. Additionally, Gamble’s flagship wine, Paramount, will be elevated further 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 more than 25 years of winemaking experience in the Napa Valley. He was trained and influenced by some of the most notable personalities in the wine business 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 the globetrotting wine consultant Michel Rolland, who he continues to work with 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 almost four years as a paratrooper. After leaving the army, Koschitzky traveled around the world for a few years and began to feel the calling for wine. He got his start working at some of the leading wineries in Israel, including Margalit Winery. Koschitzky moved to Napa in 2011 and has amassed an impressive winemaking resume spanning Screaming Eagle to Dalla Valle, working alongside some of the top winemakers and among the most coveted terroirs in the world. In early 2014, he joined Atelier Melka as the Director of Winemaking.

The announcement of Gamble’s new winemaking team comes just over a year after recruiting Raymond Reyes as Director of Viticulture and Winery Relations.

“We’re thrilled to have Philippe and Maayan on board,” says Tom Gamble. “As we have and continue to replant our vineyard properties, we do so with the mindset of elevating quality and sustainability. Coupled with these intense viticulture endeavors, I’m certain that the Melka team’s expertise will continue to elevate wines of Gamble Family Vineyards in 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 estate vineyards from many of Napa’s most respected AVAs—Oakville, Mt. Veeder, Rutherford and Yountville. Its winery and by-invitation-only tasting room have a quiet presence, sitting modestly in an isolated nook off Highway 29 in the heart of Napa Valley’s Oakville AVA. Set back from the main road, Gamble’s mission here is to carry on the heritage of farming that 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 Gamble Family Vineyards’ wines are produced in small quantities, with careful attention to farming. Gamble Family Vineyards offers four wines through wholesale/distribution, including the Rosé ($26), Gamble Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc ($35), Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($60), and Paramount Proprietary Red Blend ($90).

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