People

“BUILDING the right team is perhaps as critical as finding the right land.”

It’s not enough to possess the necessary skills. It becomes more about having extreme clarity on the goal to make the finest wine possible. The art of winemaking at Gandona is rooted in the age-old practice of apprenticeship, and the unique bond between mentor and protégé. The result is a tight-knit team well versed in tending to their craft and dedicated to the stewardship of the land and the development of hand-crafted wines.

Manuel Pires, Vintner
“Inspired by my grandfather’s legacy I became single minded in my need to work the land and more aware that farming was in my blood. I decided The Life of a Vintner was the right path.” – Manuel Pires –

Manuel Pires is President and co-proprietor of Morse Watchmans, a global technology leader in guard tour and key management systems. Founded over a century ago, the company emerged as the industry’s most recognizable name in security management products through innovations and advances in key security technology.

Philippe Melka, Winemaker
“Working at Gandona on Pritchard Hill has been nothing short of special. Since I first stepped foot in the vineyards, my goal has been to reflect in the wines the beauty, complexity and uniqueness of this truly exceptional site.” – Philippe Melka –

Philippe spent much of his youth in Bordeaux, France, earning a geology degree from the University of bordeaux. On a whim, he took a wine course in his final year of study — a decision that changed his life. Philippe’s journey in winemaking started at Chateau Haut-Brion, where his passion for Cabernet-based blends and Sauvignon Blanc was born. He completed a master’s program in Agronomy and Enology under the direction of Professor Sequin, the renowned terroir specialist.

Yearning to know more, Philippe traveled to Napa Valley (Dominus Estate), Western Australia (Chittering Estate), Chianti in Italy (Badia O Coltibuono) and Bordeaux (Chateau Petrus), where he divided his time between soil study and winemaking. Philippe honed his craft as winemaker by studying under such names as Jean Delmas and Jean Philippe Masclef from Haut-Brion, Christian Moueix and Jean Claude Berrouet from Petrus, and Paul Draper from Ridge.

Philippe has been named one of the top nine wine consultants in the world by Robert Parker. Using the knowledge he gained from his experiences around the world, Philippe has devoted the past 15 years to winemaking in Napa as consultant to the most highly regarded estate wineries and as co-proprietor of Melka Wines with his wife, Cherie.

Adam Casto, Associate Winemaker

Originally from Colorado, Adam spent the majority of a decade working in winemaking around the world; from New Zealand and Australia to South America and Europe before arriving to the Napa Valley. With a passion for mountains and the fruit character they provide, the opportunity to work with Philippe Melka at Gandona Estate has provided the fortuity to expand his unique understanding of wine as cultural device both functional and recondite.

Having studied Engineering and Fine Art, Adam’s diverse background has allowed him the opportunity to be involved with many facets of the wine industry, and he regularly utilizes a wide range of skills throughout it.