Tom Gamble at Lakewood Country Club
The moment I sat down with Tom Gamble of Gamble Family Cellars, he made it clear that it was as important to talk about how this was his family’s 100th year in farming as it was to talk about the wines he was there to pour. Tom’s a third generation farmer, the first in his family to make wine, and this is Gamble Family Cellars 11th vintage. As he said, “Prices for the land here make sense when paired with a successful wine label.”
“It is always said that the first generation buys the land; the second generation pays for it and the third generation starts the label,” he said. “And, we did too.” He sees it as a legacy, but admitted that not all of the next generation of twelve nieces and nephews think that tractors are as cool as he does. Nonetheless, he sees teaching them how to be good landowners as an important lesson.
And wearing his signature cowboy hat, you can tell that this is a man who gets his hands dirty. The family first sold grapes to very well-known stalwarts and even some cult wineries. When Tom decided he wanted to go to UC Davis to learn how to make wine after purchasing his vineyard in 1981, he wanted to bring the farming perspective to winemaking.
His commitment to sustainability and taking care of the land is evident. He and his wife farm 170 acres of vineyards that are made up of three distinct microclimates. He talked about the only thing being constant is continuous change.
The wines are only available through the wine club and the wholesale market, which is where I first became associated with the Gamble Sauvignon Blanc as a by the glass selection at Lakewood Country Club (full disclosure: I am the wine committee chairman). I enjoyed every bottle of Gamble that I tried and it was my first time trying the reds. Our line-up was as follows:
2015 Gamble Family Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc
2013 Gamble Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
2012 Gamble Family Vineyards Paramount Red Wine
2012 Gamble Family Vineyards Family Home
Getting to hear Tom’s story was a pleasure and expanding my knowledge of the goodness of the Gamble Family Vineyards red wines was even more fun.