Resource Jun 16, 2022

Like a Fine Wine: Conservation Strengthening Through Generations

A Q&A with third-generation Napa farmer, and proprietor of Gamble Family Vineyards, Tom Gamble

Tom Gamble founded Gamble Family Vineyards in the heart of Napa Valley’s Oakville District with the mission of carrying on his family’s long history of land conservation. Tom’s personal ties to the land are also reflected in his sustainable business practices; including protecting the Napa River to support safe spawning habitat for salmon, incorporating native plants that benefit insects and wildlife, and implementing robust water and energy reduction programs. NPCA is proud to announce a new partnership with Gamble Family Vineyards, rooted in Tom’s personal and familial legacy of land stewardship.

Q: We’re so thrilled to begin our partnership with Gamble Family Vineyards – and we understand, first and foremost, that this is a personal passion for you. Can you talk to us about your connection to our national parks?

I love the land and my passions always bring me back to it. While I am a farmer and owner of Gamble Family Vineyards, I’m also an avid hiker, camper and birder. I’ve had a strong connection to our national parks for as long as I can remember – a love of these special places that was sparked at an early age when my dad and I would leave the ranch and travel to the great outdoors. We visited places like Yosemite, Yellowstone, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, Grand Teton, Bryce Canyon and Glacier National Parks – to name just a few.

The two of us loved getting away and we always sought out the most under-visited and under-utilized sights, vistas and landscapes within these public lands – traveling into the back country where the wild things roamed. It was always an adventure. I remember seeing bears, elk, big horn sheep, mountain goats – there are all kinds of memories stuck together in my mind binding with reminisces of peanut butter, too many sodas, flat tires and lots of love.

Tom and George Gamble Glacier National Park

Tom and his father at Glacier National Park.

Q: Is it accurate to say these memories and this love of the parks tie into the importance you place on landscape conservation and sustainability? Can you elaborate on this personal mission of yours?

While the memories connect me to special moments and people, it also drives my desire to protect these special places – for others to enjoy and continue to enjoy as my dad and I did.

Napa totals 504,000 acres and only 47,000 acres are in vine. Besides a few small towns, most of the remaining land is in watershed nourishing those acres of vines. About 200,000 acres of the watershed are in public open space including the new Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. A feat made possible by citizen action directly and indirectly over more than 50 years.

Relating back to my work with our properties, I believe that legacy springs from the land in the Napa Valley, and we consider it part of our calling, at Gamble Family Vineyards, to sustain it. We as a family have farmed the land for more than 100 years, recognizing early on that the most powerful pathway to preservation is through continuous reinvestment both in the environment and in the people who support it.

In fact, my mother, Mary Ann McGuire was active in establishing the Napa Valley Agricultural Preserve in the late 1960s – an ordinance that protects vineyards and wineries from commercial development and ensures that the land is used strictly for agricultural and open space purposes. I credit my mother’s efforts as one of the main reasons I am able to make a living as a farmer and grape grower today, because had that initiative not passed, our land and all of Napa would have been paved over.

My hope is to continue the legacy of being a steward of the land and I was honored to participate in the original drafting of Napa Green in 2004. As a member of this voluntary program, we join a group of winegrowers that uphold the most stringent requirements in the most environmentally conscious state of California. And I’m proud to announce the launch of Million Trees Napa as a new initiative focused on improving the health and resilience of Napa County’s diverse forests through planting and stewardship.

Q: That’s an incredible legacy, Tom – and we often, at NPCA, think about legacy and how that applies to our national parks – especially where we work to ensure these places are protected for future generations to enjoy as you and your father did. To close, was it this idea of a legacy in land stewardship that inspired you to partner with National Parks Conservation Association?

It was – and this relates back to the Gamble family’s belief that supporting the environment is accomplished through continuous reinvestment, supporting the people who work to protect and preserve it – which to us, means organizations like NPCA. We look forward to lending a helping hand, and celebrating our shared missions, to further NPCA’s land conservation efforts.

As a business, we’re also excited to be able to share NPCA’s work and engage our consumers in national park protection. Where my family’s legacy and the experiences I shared with my father in our parks helped shape my desire to give back to and protect these places – I want the same for others. I believe that those who take the path less traveled experience a journey all the more filled with wonder. Be it for a day hike or a week in the wilderness, we reconnect with the natural world and our senses return in heightened form. We get to experience a world without asphalt, cell phones, sirens – just as so many generations before us were able to experience. And it is these journeys, and experiences, that turn enthusiasts into advocates.

Our fellow citizens from generations past had the foresight to begin protecting these special places that preserve nature, refresh our souls, and remind us that we are a part of something much larger than ourselves. And the best part is, these places exist for all to enjoy – and I’m thankful that National Parks Conservation Association exists to ensure this.

Not only does this partnership elevate the Gamble family’s long-standing celebration and stewardship of Napa’s land and waters, but it will also inspire new audiences to protect the places they love. By encouraging consumers to become park advocates, we can ensure that public lands can be enjoyed by all families for generations to come.

For more information on Gamble Family Vineyards visit their website here.

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