Gustavo Wine is operated by long time Napa winemaker, Gustavo Brambilia; this is an excellent retail outlet for their wines considering this location. Nearby Copia (still closed), the center for Wine, Food & Arts initially attracted a number of tasting facilities all of which are located within several blocks of the main Copia center. Since Copia closed, these tasting rooms are still here and additional ones have also opened in this area.
The original partnership between Gustavo Brambila and Thrace Bromberger was the city of Napa’s first winery collective having opened in 2002 (different location). This tasting room is located just down the street from the Napa wine train and across the street from Gott’s Roadside (upscale burgers) and the well-regarded Oxbow public market. With the construction of a new hotel slated to happen “sometime” just east of here, this part of Napa continues to be a hub for food and wine!
The winery is run by long time Napa winemaker Gustavo Brambila. He was born in Mexico but moved to the Napa Valley with his father who worked for Beaulieu Vineyards. He was one of the first Latino graduates from UC Davis’s Fermentation Sciences program. While at BV, Gustavo met the now legend in the valley, Mike Grgich who at the time was their Enologist. Later Gustavo worked at Chateau Montelena alongside Grgich and when Mike started Grgich Hills Winery, Gustavo followed along and ended up working there for over 20 years.
Gustavo is spotlighted in the feel good wine movie Bottle Shock which loosely tells the story of the 1976 Paris Tasting in which wines from several Napa wineries won this now famous blind tasting. Their first vintage dates from 1996 with a harvest that year that totaled merely 250 cases of wine. Today they focus on producing small lot wines, usually in the range of just several hundred cases each. All wine is made in the south part of Napa in winery located in a business park.
Gustavo tasting room used to be a collective featuring other area wines; now they are licensed to taste their own wines. With long time business partner, Thrace Bromberger retiring and moving to California’s central coast, Gustavo is now focusing his efforts on all wines under his own label. His wines are reasonably priced, typically less than you would pay if you visited many Napa Valley wineries. Here is a situation where you have a long time vintner who is extremely well qualified, great fruit sources but no overhead of having a public “Napa” Winery. The savings are passed on to the consumer.
While the focus will continue to be on the Gustavo label – the Gustavo-Thrace wines are still available. A second label is called “3rd bottle” and includes a White and Red Table Wine. The thought behind these wines is they are the “3rd bottle” you would open after drinking the really high end stuff. This makes a lot of sense – as by the time you’ve had this much wine your palate is probably “shot”! As a result, this is an affordable alternative and makes a great addition to any party. Their white wine version is a delightful blend of Chardonnay with a touch of Chenin Blanc which has great citrus aromas and flavors. Their 2004 100% varietal Cabernet Sauvignon (sourced from Rutherford) is well balanced and is medium to full bodied. This wine saw extended maceration which contributes additional flavor. There is a hint of dustiness on the palate with beautiful sweet tannins lingering tantalizingly on the finish.
Their bottles are artfully displayed in the tasting room. Artists also display their work here – a featured artist at the time of this update is artistic photographer Miguel Cruz – www.miguelcruz.com
This review will continue to be updated over time.