Seed to Skin

With its cult-favorite, plant-based face oil and essence, Vintner's Daughter paved the way for natural skin care.

BY July 2, 2020
After seven years on the market with its revolutionary face oil, the brand launched its second product last year—a powerhouse essence, which is said to hydrate, plump, smooth and resurface skin. Courtesy Vintner's Daughter

Spending extra time indoors (and separated from our typical grooming resources) has shifted our focus to the few aesthetic things we can control, like doubling down on our skin care routine.

Perhaps that’s why Marissa Collections has seen an increase in demand for Vintner’s Daughter, a beauty line founded by Naples native and third-generation winemaker April Gargiulo. “During times of stress, self-care is the one thing people can do for themselves to give that balance, since they can’t go to a hair salon or their favorite shop,” says Laura Pangallo, Marissa Collections’ jewelry and beauty sales manager.

Infused with 22 botanicals, the serum has earned a legion of fans among beauty editors, celebs and dermatologists.

Vintner’s Daughter has experienced a meteoric rise since it launched in 2013, as one of the pioneering names in the clean-beauty movement—a shift away from using chemical-ridden products and toward embracing simpler, plant-based skin care routines.

Marissa Collections started carrying the line three years ago, when Pangallo began noticing an uptick of natural skin care brands entering the market. With its local connection, Vintner’s Daughter was a natural fit for Naples. Garguilo, whose parents still live here part-time and are trustees of the Naples Children & Education Foundation, grew up with the shop’s CEO, Jay Hartington. Many members of the team also use the products and attest to their effectiveness. “One thing that’s unique is that Vintner’s Daughter doesn’t have 20 or 30 products; they have two, and they make them well, and they really work,” Pangallo says. “I’m a skin care junkie, and when I started using the essence, I instantly noticed the difference.”

Gargiulo has been called the “sommelier of skin care” and her award-winning serum—a face oil infused with 22 nutrient-rich botanicals, including skin-firming cypress from Spain and pore-shrinking hazelnut from Piedmont—is what she considers to be her “desert island, holy grail” skin product.

Eight years ago, when Gargiulo was pregnant with her first daughter and working with her family’s eponymous winery in California, she started examining the labels of the luxury products she was slathering on her face. She was shocked that only 0.01% of what was in the bottles contained active ingredients (those that address the targeted issue)—the rest were filler. “For me, luxury was far more than a price tag, and the only thing luxurious about these products was the price,” she says.

At the time, face oils hadn’t become mainstream and the 10-step Korean skin care routine was still popular. “I thought if you were using natural, you had to compromise,” she admits. She was eager to keep her body and family clear from toxins, but none of the chemical-free products she found were powerful enough to address her lifelong struggle with acne and discoloration and the onset of wrinkles she started to experience in her 30s.

Working with a seasoned formulator, Gargiulo spent the next two years developing the formula for her “liquid gold” serum. It would be another four years before she’d release a second product, the Active Treatment Essence, which launched last year.

Labs she met with initially, when she was developing the serum, turned her away. They were put off by her proposition for a beauty product that would take three weeks (instead of the standard six hours) to produce. “I’m coming from winemaking, where you’re thinking of the grapes and where they’re grown, and it takes three years to make a bottle of wine,” she says. “I thought three weeks was nothing.” Another hitch? Instead of relying on the usual mix of chemicals and extracts, her formula required whole plants—all sourced from growers with generations of experience.

Napa Valley’s winemaking culture motivated her to push onward when she was rejected by labs and retailers. “Over the past 60 to 70 years, really audacious men and women put Napa Valley on the map for the finest wines in the world, and the passion it took is something that I still look to for inspiration,” Gargiulo says.   

The launch presented a revelation for the beauty industry. With no marketing dollars spent, editors, celebs and name-brand aestheticians flocked to this brand that had a singular product, doled out in tiny, unassuming, matte black bottles, retailing for $185. Whether they were looking to tackle pore size or reduce fine lines, early adopters found the serum actually worked across generations, skin types and for various issues.

Every dimension of the product—from the tiny particle size, which allows the serum to better penetrate the skin, to the ratios used—is thought out to effectively target skin concerns. The serum still takes three weeks to make, a process that includes extracting every nutrient the plant has to offer.

Gargiulo took her time in developing the brand’s second product. The essence—a primer applied to clean skin to boost hydration and the serum’s other effects—takes five weeks to make. The ingredients are fermented for better absorption and to deliver antioxidant-rich prebiotics and probiotics. Added plant stem cells and hyaluronic acid help the skin produce more collagen and hydrate at the deepest level.

For now, the 45-year-old skin care guru is perfectly happy selling the two products, which combine for a two-step process that promises to brighten, tighten and protect skin. The prescription? Pat on the essence, then press a few drops of the serum onto your skin, followed by sunscreen during the day.

At the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, like so many of us, Gargiulo turned to her beauty products as a way to de-stress. She was loading up on masks and applying products multiple times a day, only to find her acne-prone skin flared up. The experience nudged her back to her baseline. “I was like, ‘April, what are you thinking? You know better,’” she says. After years of winemaking, she knows that higher quality and a smaller yield always offers you better results.

Gargiulo applies winemaking principles to her products, focusing on quality, farm-grown ingredients and a slow process.

Related Images: