Napa Valley AVA
GKG Cellars has won numerous awards and scored at the highest levels for the past decade
Greg Gorman is a 70 year-old Kansas native who has led a storied life in many aspects. He graduated from Kansas University with a major in Photojournalism and later secured a Master of Fine Arts in Cinematography and Film from the much-revered film school at the University of Southern California.
Gorman quickly established himself as one of Hollywood’s premier still photographers and began a career in the film industry that has lasted almost 50 years. During that time, he has photographed practically all film luminaries, from the great Marlon Brando and Dustin Hoffman to Al Pacino and Johnny Depp. His film credits include the likes of Tootsie, The Big Chill, Scarface, Pirates of the Caribbean and a host of other star-studded films.
“The studios usually had two photographers on board; one to shoot the stills for the movie and one to do the grunt work with the stars,” he recalled. “I always did the latter and many of the posters you saw for the movies were my work. It was great fun and I have enjoyed every minute.”
Greg Gorman’s interest in wine started after he finished college when he bought inexpensive Spanish and Italian wines. As his career progressed, the lavish expense accounts of the 1980’s provided by the studios allowed him to venture into rarer waters and his palate and taste increased considerably.
The heralded photographer became interested in California wines during the mid 1980’s and soon developed close relationships with a number of high-caliber wineries. A chance opportunity to shoot pictures for Dave Phinney, California’s wunderkind (Orin Swift, The Prisoner, Locations, etc.) for a new Orin Swift project called Papillion. The shoot proved very successful and the two became close friends. Twenty years later, Greg Gorman decided to enter the wine business for himself and his friend Dave Phinney was there to help.
“I wanted to produce a single wine under my GKG Cellars label,” recounted Gorman. “I had the idea to make it a mostly Cabernet Sauvignon blend with small amounts of other Bordeaux varietals, just like the great Châteaux of Bordeaux do. In 2006, Dave and I made the first samples, but I was still experimenting and didn’t sell any of the bottles. We did it again in 2007 and produced a wine that we all thought was quite enticing. It became our first release.”
The initial release of two barrels (around 50 cases) of GKG was immediately heralded and the entity was off to a flying start. Successive vintages scored incredibly high scores and the winery’s output has turned into a modest 275 cases at present. “We wanted to make something really special, and I believe we succeeded,” Gorman offered modestly. “Our formula was quite simple. Dave had excellent sources for grapes and we handpicked the fruit to go into our barrels. After the wine’s development, he chose four or five samples and I made the choice of what would become our final blend. Dave’s palate and mine are quite similar and, on many occasions, we have scored the barrels almost exactly the same.”
GKG Cellars’ exquisite packaging is another story in itself. “Since my reputation was made taking pictures, I decided against using a picture on the bottle,” he explained. “I decided on using my initials, making the label simple and elegant. At first, I tried etching, but that was basically too expensive. Next came silk-screening and that produced a better effect. The real winner was a bottle I came across that made the presentation exactly what I wanted. The bottle is high-punted and tapered. To me, that shows strength and prowess, exactly the way I wanted to describe my wines.”
The rest is history, a story for the ages. GKG Cellars has won numerous awards and scored at the highest levels for the past decade and is now considered among Napa Valley’s most revered brands. It still continues to produce a single wine, a rarity in today’s highly competitive wine industry.
Greg Gorman has stuck to his guns and never varied on his quest to produce the finest Cabernet Sauvignon blends possible. He is a shining example to anyone who develops the itch to become a top California winery owner. He humbly credits his winemaker, Dave Phinney, for most of his success, but keep in mind it is Greg Gorman who decides the final blends for GKG Cellars.
We are fortunate to have secured this incredible GKG Cellars 2016 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon as this Diamond Wine Club selection. It is a rare opportunity to enjoy a truly expressive wine that will continue to improve for the foreseeable future. Enjoy!