Thomas J. Wargovich MD & Victoria D. Wargovich
Thomas was born in western Pennsylvania, in one was the heart of the country’s coal and steel industry. His grandparents immigrated to America from Eastern Europe through Ellis Island, like millions of others, in search of a better life. The very first generation of his family all completed graduate educations, becoming ballistic engineers, rocked designers, and physicians (Thomas’ father). The second generation continued to follow the American dream: Thomas is a retired interventional cardiac surgeon, and three of his brothers are doctors as well. His system is an industrial chemist.
Thomas has had a lifelong passion for horticulture, graduating with a decree in Botany/Biology from West Virginia University. He attended Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, completing his fellowship training in Interventional Cariology at the University of Florida, where he was faculty at the UF School of Medicine for 10 years.
Thomas became entranced with Napa Valley during an excursion from a medical meeting in the City nearly 20 years ago. Enamored with this seemingly agricultural paradise, Thomas found a beautiful 27-acre parcel of old rand land nestled in a secluded site in Pope Valley and soon began to plan and plant his own personal horticultural American Eden.
During this journey, Thomas met his spouse, Victoria, on a blind date set up by her sister, Carol, who worked in Thomas’ medical office. After a whirlwind romance, Victoria moved out to California from Virginia in 2004 to get the project rolling. Contrastingly different, members of Victoria’s family were some of the first to arrive in the country, she being the descendant of Irish and French settlers to Virginia over 17 generations ago. Victoria was educated in Virginia and went on to a career in mortgage banking. Thomas and Victoria share three daughters: Bliss, a therapist, and Lauren, an attorney, both living in Gainesville, Florida, and Amanda, a wine educator who lives and works in the Valley.
Thomas and Victoria slowly transformed their ranch into a lush vineyard and botanical arboretum. Thomas completed courses in viticulture and enology at Napa Valley College, working internships in both the field and winery. With the grateful help of many, ten acres of Bordeaux and Rhone varietals were planted. Robbie Meyer joined the team as winemaker and Gratus Vineyards produced its first vintage of 75 cases in 2012. “Gratus”, (pronounced ‘grah-tus’) is Latin for grateful. Thomas and Victoria are certainly grateful for this opportunity provided them through the hard work and resolve of their ancestors, and grateful to the many members of this community who helped them along the way.
Gratus Vineyards is currently producing about 500 cases per year. Its premium estate grown wines include a Red Blend (at least 75% Cabernet Sauvignon with Malbec and Petite Sirah), and a 100% varietal Malbec, 100% varietal Petite Sirah. This year’s bottling (2016 vintage) included our first production of a 100% varietal estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Additionally, Gratus offers a unique White Blend of Rhone varietals (Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier. Lastly Gratus produces intermittently a small lot of Rose, labeled LˊOvey, a term of endearment given Thomas by Victoria.