Peter Gordenker with his parents Olga and Vladimir, immigrated from Russia in the late 1800's to a small farm in Glen Ellen. Peter was a rascal and during prohibition made cherry brandy which he sold in San Francisco to officers stationed at the Presidio. He attended Berkley, but prior to graduating left for the Klondike in search of gold. He returned, settled down and married Josephine Harsh from Michigan and together they raised turkeys and farmed what is now our Nun's Canyon property. They had two sons Rodion and Allan Gordenker who farmed beside them. When WWII began Rodion joined the service but Allan was too young and stayed behind to help farm.
26 acres of land
In 1943 brothers Allan and Rodion Gordenker brought 26 acres of land at the corner of Trinity Road and Highway 12. The Turkey business had grown during the war and raising turkeys for egg breeding production is what they did. These were free-range, organic turkeys that laid eggs, were collected daily and sent to the hatchery. Organic and free-range were standard in the day and I believe Allan would be shocked and happy at the premium demanded by such products in todays markets. The business grew quickly and the family brought more land surrounding their 26 acres. Allan married Leonor Mori from Sonoma in 1947 and together they grew the farm to more than 400 acres. Rodion left the business in the 60's and that left Allan and wife Leonor to run the ranch.
A new generation
At its height in the 80's they had 45,000 turkeys roaming over the 400 acres. Allan and Leonor had three children, Christine, Sylvia, and Peter. Allan retired from the turkey business in 1990 and planted 13 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in 1998.
In 2011 the Gordenker family joined forces with Sylvia's daughter Michele and son-in-law Tom Gendall to move forward with making wine from the beautiful Gordenker vineyard nestled in the Moon Mountain AVA of Sonoma Valley. In 2012 the first bottle of 'Sylvia's Drive' Cabernet Sauvignon was created.