Beginning in New Zealand

Tom and Michele met in New Zealand back in mid 2008 and both quickly became enamored with each other. Tom had just completed his first harvest at Pegasus Bay winery, playing an integral role at a fantastic producer. Michele had just decided to start her Viticulture and Oenology degree that Tom had just finished at Lincoln University.

Back to Sonoma

Michele went back to Sonoma and continued studying and planned to meet Tom back in New Zealand at the beginning of 2009. It was at this time they started to envision moving to Sonoma to manage the vineyard and make wine under the Gordenker label, however Michele needed to complete her degree and they both needed more experience.

Tom spent the time apart in Europe, working in the Rheinhessen for famed producer Weingut Keller, producing astonishing Riesling’s and superb Pinot Noir. They met back in New Zealand in 2009 and Michele continued her degree as Tom did another harvest at Pegasus Bay making sublime Pinot Noir, Riesling, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. He was then appointed Assistant Vineyard Manager, caring for over 200 acres of property and 100 acres of vines.


Michele completed her degree in 2010 and worked the 2011 harvest at Pegasus Bay while Tom was in the Vineyard. It was at this time they decided they could work together (barely) and hatched the plan to move to Sonoma. June 2011 was when they arrived and got married soon after. Michele became employed by Sojourn Cellars, crafting top rated Pinot Noir’s from Sonoma Coast and Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa and Sonoma. Tom worked harvest for Bryant Family Vineyard and Keplinger, seeing how truly cult Cabernet Sauvignon is made.


Michele stayed working for Sojourn for the next year in a variety of roles but always dedicated to the winery. It was at the beginning of 2012 that Tom and Michele took over management of the 6 acre Gordenker Vineyard on Sylvia Drive from esteemed viticulturist Phil Coturri. This plays a large role in their busy schedules.


Tom also worked for Arrowood Winery learning how to craft Sonoma Valley Cabernets and Chardonnay. Michele now works as the Oenologist (wine scientist) for VML winery in Healdsburg producing high quality Russian River Pinots and Chardonnays. Tom currently works for Sojourn Cellars as their assistant winemaker. In 2013 they added Macleod Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc to their portfolio and 2014 they will be adding Pinot Noir.