Introducing our first installment of 7x7's Style Council 2017, our annual look at the trendsetters and style mavens of the Bay Area worlds of fashion, beauty and design. Check back for more tastemaker profiles each day, between now and September 29th!
If you've ever been to a good wine tasting, you know there is a seemingly infinite amount of minutiae involved in the creation of a fine wine. Everything—the right grapes, an ideal spot to grow, amenable terroir, the weather—impacts the flavor and composition of a wine. April Gargiulo, founder of Vintner's Daughter, understands all of this unconditionally. With her background in fine wine-making and also in design, she has harnessed that critical attention to detail to create one of the most coveted skincare lines currently on the market. And, she only makes one product.
Her golden-hued Active Botanical Serum—a blend of 22 nutrient-dense botanicals (including alfalfa, dandelion, and nettle)—promises multi-correctional performance to restore skin's balance, texture and natural radiance. It's a big promise and, at $185 a jar, an investment, but Vintner's Daughter has garnered something of a cult following: Notable believers include Gwyneth Paltrow and Instagram influencer Courtney Halverson (@prettylittlefawn); the press accolades are countless; and his summer, the iconic Dallas-based retailer FortyFiveTen picked up the brand as part of the offering at its new downtown Napa store.
Neither the price nor the celebrity clientele seem surprising, though, when Gargiulo tells you about her process: "Vintner's Daughter rests upon the same philosophical foundations as fine winemaking," she says.
Having grown up and learned to make wine on her family's Gargiulo Vineyards in Oakville, it was natural for the daughter of a farming and winemaking family to take matters into her own hands when she needed to do something about her problem skin. She set out to make something better and safer than what she found at the drug store or at the cosmetics counter, where most everything seemed loaded with toxic ingredients. For two years she researched and sourced various oils and herbs.
Channeling her master vintner, she paired compounds until the perfect combination bubbled up, and established a process much like that of winemaking. She employs a similar extraction method, called extended maceration in the wine world and effleurage in the beauty world. And just like making, say, a bottle of Napa Valley cabernet, where you don't see the fruits of your labor for at least three or four years, the process of making Gargiulo's Active Botanical Serum takes three weeks for just one batch. The process is expensive, labor-intensive and, of course, completely worth it.
"I didn't want to compromise efficacy or my time on lesser products," she says. "Active Botanical Serum was designed to be your desert island product, the only product that you would never leave home without." And, it delivers.
"The aha moment for me, in terms of formulation, was when I used it on an active breakout and it went away overnight," Gargiulo remembers. "Other moments have come in the form of testimonials from clients who have had dramatic results with everything from rosacea to fine lines."
She keeps her own skincare regimen simple and consistent: gentle cleanser, lactic acid toner, and Active Botanical Serum, applied using her push/press process.
"Skin is 80 percent genes and lifestyle, and 20 percent product," she says. "There isn't much you can do about the genes part, but the others you have control of. Make them a priority. Your skin will thank you."
7x7: What the weirdest thing about you?
April Gargiulo: I prefer walking uphill.
7x7: Your last meal would be...
AG: It would involve barbecue and kimchi, for sure.
7x7: Describe your personal style.
AG: Minimal maximalist.
7x7: Your guilty pleasure?
AG: Fig Newtons
7x7: You shop till you drop at...
AG: March, and vintage shops all over the city.
7x7: When you want to get away...
AG: Tahoe, Mexico City, Kauai, Tokyo, Madrid, Jose Ignacio—I have terrible wanderlust.