The founder of cult beauty brand Vintner’s Daughter hosts a leisurely lunch for her entrepreneurial friends
It’s one of those gorgeous autumn days in Napa Valley when the grapes seem to perspire in the sun and the air is heavy with their sweetness. High above Gargiulo Vineyards’ 575 OVX vineyard, on a patio with cascading views, April Gargiulo wanders in front of the dressed table, adjusting a plate here, straightening a tablecloth there, tweaking the wildflowers. The smell of chef Nash Cognetti’s roasting vegetables wafts through the air. Soon Gargiulo’s friends—women who own businesses in fashion, beauty and wine—begin arriving in billowy dresses, sunglasses and big hats.
There is brow guru Michele Holmes, facial massage specialist Julie Lynge, bloggers Ali Singer and Lisa Williams, plus fashion designer Lauren Podoll and others. Until today, they’ve yet to mix socially, but they are all part of a like-minded circle of women that Gargiulo has collected over the past four years while running the beauty brand Vintner’s Daughter, which has a single product, the 22-ingredient Active Botanical Serum.
Beauty is a relatively new gig for Gargiulo, who comes from old Napa Valley stock: Her mother’s cousins Barney and Belle Rhodes were instrumental in the U.S. wine industry’s revival in the 1960s. She also ran the family vineyards for eight years before she decided to start Vintner’s Daughter. The idea was to take the vintner’s approach to refinement and translate it to skincare.
Applying maceration’s beauty equivalent, effleurage, Gargiulo uses infusions from nutrient-dense plants and leaves, in contrast to the majority of mainstream natural skincare lines, which use inexpensive extracts and powders. Sourcing was also key: “Every ingredient is organic or wild crafted, coming from pristine sources,” Gargiulo notes. For example, some of her cypress is collected by basket off a coastal cliff in Spain. The resulting serum (which takes three weeks to make) presents a full spectrum of vitamins, antioxidants and nutrients for the skin, and is designed to combat inflammation, brighten, balance and tone, and help with fine lines and wrinkles.
But at this lunch, the conversation skitters over the beauty talk as the gals patter on about classic working-mom issues: schools, childcare, business complications, tricks and tips. They dine on rosemary chicken, figs with lavender honey, halibut rolled in herbes de Provence and raw chocolate pudding—a menu created with only 22 ingredients, a call out to the serum’s composition. Meanwhile, Gargiulo puts on her vintner’s hat and serves her family’s Wood Ranch chardonnay, smooth Money Road Ranch cabernet, Aprile sangiovese and G Major 7 cabernet. As the afternoon deepens and the sun begins to fade, the lunch continues, unhurried, just like the synthesis of Gargiulo’s own product. “We’re in it for the love of the game,” she says. “Things take time to make them the best. It’s a very old-world idea, but that’s how I grew up.” vintnersdaughter.com.
Written by ELIZABETH KHURI CHANDLER.
Photography by ANGIE SILVY.