Applying the principles of winemaking to skin care—for April Gargiulo, it just made sense.
She grew up in Napa Valley in a family of successful farmers and winemakers; now, as CEO and founder of Vintner’s Daughter, a San Francisco-based beauty company known for its Active Botanical Serum (the only product it makes), she has found a way to merge the patience, dedication, and craftsmanship of grape-growing with her interest in beauty.
“My parents purchased their first property of what would become Gargiulo Vineyards in 1992, followed by a second in 1999, with the dream of making a very high-quality cabernet sauvignon,” Gargiulo says, seated on the patio of the winery overlooking her family vineyards. “It took three years before they were in a position to release the first vintage because they were so adamant about following tradition and pursuing the kind of artisanship that consciously avoids shortcuts: a philosophical approach to winemaking that doesn’t just belong to my family, but underpins all of Napa Valley wine country.”
It is this profound heritage that formed the groundwork for Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum, a face oil offering the highest level of skin nutrition thanks to its 100 per cent active formula of 22 essential oils along with anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. “I had been dealing with skin problems for my entire life and had been using all kinds of skin care products for redness, acne, you name it,” says Gargiulo. “They were all very expensive and were considered by beauty experts along with the whole industry to be luxury products of the highest calibre. However, none of them really resolved my problems completely.”
“I focused on just one product because I wanted to make it perfect.”
In 2012, while pregnant with her first daughter, she started to really examine the ingredients that made up her daily face cream and, she says, realized that the active part of the formulation was just 0.01 per cent, with the rest being low-quality filler that in many cases could be toxic. “It was a real eye-opening moment for me. From there I decided that I wanted to personally take care of my skin by making a skin care product that would offer uncompromising quality as well as be safe and effective,” Gargiulo explains. “I felt that this was, and still is, what I deserve. And not just me, but everybody.” With her experience working in the family vineyards, she applied the concept of terroir to the formulation process of her serum.
Each of the oil’s ingredients is sourced from the most conscious growers and producers in the world, including citrus bergamia from Calabria and hazelnut from Piedmont. It takes three weeks to create the formula through a full-spectrum extraction method, which begins with the whole plant and allows all the vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, omega fatty acids, and other elements to be delivered into every drop of the finished product.
Launched in 2014, Active Botanical Serum promises to give the skin an immediate glow, followed by more elasticity, protection against free radical damage, and reduced signs of aging, redness, and inflammation. The product even has its own application process, designed for maximum efficacy, called the Push/Press Method: place five or six drops into the palm and rub hands together, then press them over the face and décolletage for 30 seconds. “With the right nutrients and when it is properly fed, the skin is able to renew, restore, and rebalance itself,” Gargiulo says, adding that the serum is designed to work for all skin types, tones, ages, and genders. Since its release, it has become a cult beauty favourite, being sold everywhere from popular online shop Violet Grey to famed Seattle lifestyle store Totokaelo (in Vancouver, it can be purchased at India Rose Cosmeticary and Rebecca Bree). Pretty good for a brand that only sells one thing.
“I focused on just one product because I wanted to make it perfect. It took us years to find the right formula. I could have done a cleanser, a scrub, but my goal was not to fill the shelves, it was and still is to make a face oil that can have an impact on people’s lives,” Gargiulo says. “You need a lot of attention and care to do that. I think I’ve learned this from my family; they make only cabernet sauvignon, and it is one of the best. The Active Botanical Serum would not exist without Napa Valley.” It seems that food and wine are no longer the only things Napa sparks greatness in.