I attempted to make my first wine, in a 5-gallon glass jar, in my bedroom closet without much success. Nevertheless, the experiment marked the beginning of my career as a winemaker.
With literally no more than a backpack and lots of expectations, I went to France to learn about wine. After five years of total immersion in all things French, I obtained a degree in Viticulture, a DNO of Enology (Diplôme National d'Œnologue) from Bordeaux and the experience of five harvests.
Learning in France was an indescribable experience: very inspirational with numerous gratifying outcomes. I worked in Côte-Rôtie (Domaine M & S Ogier D'Ampuis, Domaine Clusel-Roch), Alsace (Domaine du Scheidecker), Burgundy (Domaine Du Devevey), Cognac (Lycée Agricole de L'Oisellerie) and Bordeaux (Château Haut-Brion, Château La Mission Haut-Brion, Château La Dominique). I learned to prepare soils for planting, select the best vines from old heritage vineyards, prune and take care of the vines, and follow their growth to produce only premium grapes for wine. Working with the best producers, I learned how to transform this precious fruit from the earth into wine, handcrafted with my own expertise and artistic interpretation.
While working in the Russian River Valley in 2004, I fell in love with Sonoma County. From there, I started traveling the globe; working harvests in South Africa at Saronsberg Cellars, California and France. Doing two harvests per year over three consecutive years was exhausting and challenging. But the learning experience was priceless. In California I worked at La Crema, Peay Vineyards, Au Bon Climat, Qupe and Lynmar Estate, where I was the winemaker from 2009 through the spring of 2012.
At the beginning of 2012, I formed my own consulting business for the wine industry: RAVE Vines & Wines.
MICHAEL ZARDO - WINEMAKER, 10 ACRE
The talented Michael Zardo heads up winemaking at Ten Acre. Zardo (which is what everyone calls him) brings unbelievable passion and expertise to his role crafting our pinot noirs and chardonnays. Before joining Ten Acre, he spent seven years honing his craft as the assistant winemaker at the highly esteemed Pisoni Vineyards & Winery, where he developed a specialization working with exceptional quality, cool-climate pinot noir.
“Ten Acre is dedicated to discovering the personality and flavors of special vineyards,” says Zardo. “As a winemaker, I share that respect for the natural character of great sites. All the properties we work with are unique, and offer a wonderfully diverse spectrum of flavors. I strive to showcase this in my winemaking in an honest and authentic way.”
Prior to his tenure at Pisoni, Zardo worked at the pinot noir and chardonnay-focused Bernardus Winery. He also spent two winemaking seasons in New Zealand (another hotbed for cool-climate pinot noir), where he was able to gain a more global understanding of viticulture and enology.
Zardo earned his degree in enology from Fresno State University. In keeping with his belief in an authentic, vineyard-inspired approach to crafting pinot noir and chardonnay, Zardo's focuses on environmentally conscious techniques, with little-or-no outside manipulation.