The small size of Gantz Family Vineyards, just 4.5 planted acres, allows Clay Gantz to farm in a precise and labor-intensive manner. The hands-on work of trunk training, pruning, shoot positioning, leafing, irrigating and monitoring for pests have allowed Clay to get to know each and every vine; he works collaboratively with the rest of the vineyard team to make sure each plant gets what it needs. Clay and his wife Celeste bought the property in 2009, established the vineyard in 2010 and sold their first harvest to Kosta Browne Winery in 2013. Clay is an award-winning amateur winemaker who completed the certificate program in winemaking offered by the world-renowned Department of Viticulture and Enology at the University of California, Davis, Extension for individuals employed in the wine industry. He is president of the Russian River Valley Winegrowers and chair of the Russian River Valley Neighborhoods Initiative.
Celeste Gantz works alongside Clay to handle the shoot positioning, weeding and irrigation management in the vineyard and has taken over gopher control entirely. The two work together to produce and bottle the wine they make for friends and family. Celeste uses her 20-plus years overseeing legal departments to manage the administrative duties of Gantz Family Vineyards and gathers most of the content that populates their vibrant social media feeds. Celeste is an involved member of the Russian River Valley Winegrowers and the Russian River Valley Girls, an organization that connects women engaged in the local wine industry.
Viticulturist Kristin Lowe has been a vital part of Gantz Family Vineyards' success. Kris was one of Clay's teachers in his certification program and one of the first people he turned to after purchasing the property in 2009. As the owner of Vine Balance Consulting, Kris watches over Gantz Family Vineyards' vines to ensure that they are protected from pest and disease and that they receive adequate nutrition, water and appropriate canopy management. She specializes in ampelography, which is the study of the classification of grape varieties, and has an extensive knowledge of rootstock/scion characteristics, grape genetics, and grapevine physiology and phenology. Originally from Syracuse, New York, Kristin received a B.S. in plant sciences with a specialization in plant breeding from Cornell University in 2000 before coming to California for graduate work. Kristin completed her Ph.D. in genetics from UC Davis in 2006.
Vineyard manager Jim Pratt has over 30 years of experience overseeing vines in the Russian River Valley with a career that begin in 1980 working with Rich Kunde at Sonoma Grapevine, once one of the country’s largest grapevine nurseries. Now, Jim and his company, Cornerstone Certified Vineyard, oversee 220 acres that provide grapes for notable wineries like Siduri, Merry Edwards, DeLoach, Gary Farrell and Kosta Browne. Cornerstone specializes in managing small vineyards that require precision farming necessary for great Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Jim emphasizes having a collaborative relationship with his vineyard owners, and he works closely with the rest of the GFV team to make decisions about the care and maintenance of our vineyard. His crew, led by operations supervisor Raymundo Calderon, performs the highly skilled and arduous vineyard work such as annual spring pruning, canopy management and late-summer fruit harvesting.
Gantz Family Vineyards is proud to deliver our grapes to Kosta Browne Winery, which produces some of the most sought after Pinot Noirs in California. The relationship began with our first harvest in 2013 and continues to thrive today under the care of Kosta Browne viticulturist Sam Ausburn, assistant winemakers Jeremiah Timm and Nico Cueva, and winemaker Michael Browne. Kosta Browne Pinot Noir wines express the specific qualities and consistencies of their pedigreed vineyards of Sonoma Coast, Russian River and Santa Lucia Highlands. The Russian River Valley-based winery was started in 1998 when founders Dan Kosta and Michael Browne pooled their tips from working at a local restaurant to buy their first grapes. Later, they worked with founder Chris Costello and his family to acquire the resources they needed to grow. In 2011, Kosta Browne's 2009 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir was named Wine Spectator's number one wine of the year.
Jake is an invaluable member of the Gantz Family Vineyards team, taking very seriously his duties of pointing out active gopher holes, stomping lizards out of the ivy, chasing wild turkeys, and loudly warning us of circling hawks or innocent joggers who dare to pass near our property. We were lucky to adopt Jake from the Healdsburg Animal Shelter in 2012; he'd been on the euthanasia list of another shelter before Healdsburg rescued him (please adopt). He caught our attention immediately with his tendency to lean his entire body weight against people and stare at them with unblinking devotion. Jake had an active Facebook presence until we got tired of him hogging all the attention.