Gibbs Napa Valley
Napa Valley AVA
A small family winery nestled on the Napa Valley floor, Gibbs Napa Valley offers premium wines that are approachable, affordable, and honor their family's grape-growing legacy.
While Craig Handly considers himself a successful grower in Napa Valley, his efforts on the winemaking side of the wine business have vaulted him into rarefied company. As co-owner and winemaker for the relatively new Gibbs Vineyards, Handly, 57, has produced some incredible scores and awards for his 6 year-old winery.
“I still consider myself more of a grower than anything,” a modest Handly said during an interview. “We grown our own Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc for our estate programs, and we source the remaining fruit we need from four of the finest vineyards in northern California. From the success we have enjoyed thus far, our aim must be doing something right.”
The Gibbs Vineyards story unfurled in 2014 when the company released its first 3,000 cases. That number has grown steadily and will approximate 7,000 cases this year. Handly points to the 10,000-case level as a goal for the future. “The 10,000-case level is where I feel we can be comfortable and stick to our goals and quality objectives,” he continued. “It’s all about the fruit you use and the sources that are available. Great fruit produces great wines, and terroir is the name of the game at our level.”
Gibbs Vineyards currently has 48.25 acres under vine that accounts for a large part of its reserve program, a fact that Craig Handly feels is an important element in his winery’s success story. Handly’s wife Susan is the daughter of Dr. Lewis Gibbs Carpenter, Jr., the former psychologist and farmer who bought the original valley floor land in the 1950’s that comprises Gibbs Vineyards Estate. Carpenter was a devotee to Bordeaux varietals and planted mostly Cabernet Sauvignon in the rich and fertile soil that bears the name ‘Centa Vineyard.’ At this point, the valley is only 3,500 feet wide and benefits from the heat reflected off the hills to the west and east. Cabernet Sauvignon thrives in this environment that has been under plant since 1865 and is almost entirely clay loam soil. Another ancient vineyard site, Cross Creek Vineyard, lies between Howell and Glass Mountains, and is the source of additional Cabernet Sauvignon that has been farmed since the 1870’s.
Handly’s decision to enter the incredibly competitive wine industry came after he saw his fruit capture high marks and awards for other wineries. “We just felt it was the right time to jump into another aspect of the wine industry and wanted to see how we could do on our own,” admitted Handly. “We had a degree of confidence in our fruit and that confidence has been borne out over the past six to eight years.”
When it came to developing the label for Gibbs Vineyards, Handly was right at home. “I had been a label designer for 26 years at the time and had worked with numerous large and small wineries,” he explained. “We wanted our label to stand out, to have a different shape, a shape that no other label in the wine business has. It is intended, through its background, to have a high class look that depicts the quality inside the bottle.”
To produce that quality, Gibbs Vineyards employs the talents of Assistant Winemaker Julie Schreiber, a UC Davis graduate with more than 20 years of experience with a host of Northern California wineries. Schreiber lends a veteran hand to the Gibbs Vineyard operation that also includes Craig Handly’s son Spencer, 28, who is the company’s director of operations. Spencer Handly’s high school friend, Lucas Walter, is the marketing director in this close-nit, family-oriented business.
The wines of Gibbs Vineyards are Bordeaux styled in keeping with its founder’s passion for the quintessential French grapes. Since there are not many estate bottlings in the St. Helena AOC, the Gibbs Vineyards selections tend to stand out. Their Cabernet Sauvignon style is definitely Bordeaux-flavored, and includes small portions of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot that are sourced from nearby Napa Valley growers.
“We age our Reserve Cabernets an extra year to eighteen months,” added Craig Handly. “We find the extra aging produces additional concentration, somewhere between the 15 to 20 percent range. It provides a distinct French accent to the wines and has become a hallmark for our Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.”
The future seems extraordinarily bright for Gibbs Vineyards and the Handly family. Their primary source of grapes is secure and they continue garnering top scores and individual awards for their extraordinary wines. It is a great pleasure to introduce Gibbs Vineyards to our Platinum wine of the month club members. We know you will enjoy this selection!
Map of the area
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
I started Gibbs with my son, Spencer Gibbs Handly, when his grandfather passed away in 2013 and we inherited the family vineyards. Our goal was to showcase the incredible quality of fruit Dr. Lewis Gibbs Carpenter had been growing for over 60 years and we like to think he would be immensely proud.
We are thrilled to share our 2016 Centa Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon with you! This wine is composed of fruit hand-picked from one low-vigor block in our Centa Vineyard; the best fruit we have to offer. Planted by my father-in-law in the early 1960’s, the vineyard is tucked between the Silverado Trail and Napa River at the narrowest part of the valley in Saint Helena. This block sees intense heat throughout the summer season and is chock-full of obsidian, allowing for optimal soil drainage. The combination puts just the right amount of nutrients and stress on the vines resulting in small, dense clusters bursting with complex flavor and tannins. In a typical vintage, this fruit will become part of our flagship Three Clones Cabernet, however, occasionally we have an extraordinary vintage, which means I will select six to eight barrels and set them aside to create our Centa Vineyard Reserve!
We hope you enjoy this wine as much as we enjoy making it and hope you will reach out on a future trip to the Napa Valley. Raise a glass of Gibbs!
Owner & Winemaker