Gamble Announces Changing of the Guard at Winemaker

Tom Gamble announced the appointment of Philippe Melka and Maayan Koschitzky of Atelier Melka as winemakers. 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.

The change officially took place on June 1 according to the announcement, which was released this week.

“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,” said 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.”

The team’s transition was announced amid plans to release a new AVA-specific tier of wines based on Gamble’s 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 comes to Gamble with more than 25 years of winemaking experience in the Napa Valley. He was trained and influenced by industry leaders 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 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. 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,” Gamble said. “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.”

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