Director of Winemaking
Susan Lueker, who as a young girl made dandelion wine with her father on the family farm, says she always wanted to be a scientist.
At the University of Missouri she studied chemistry and medical child development then went to graduate school. Partway through, she transferred to the University of California, Davis to pursue a degree in viticulture.
When her enology class visited vineyards for the first time, she knew she wanted to be a winemaker.
She started her career at Hacienda Winery, took the experience she gained there to Kendall-Jackson and then went to Dry Creek Vineyard where she worked for eight years. Susan joined Simi in 2000.
Tom Gore was two and a half years-old when he walked through a vineyard with his aunt, accurately explaining to her that the workers were budding the vines. Needless to say, no one in his family was surprised when he went to college at Cal Poly, where he earned a degree in fruit science with a concentration in vineyard management.
“I’m very lucky that since I was five years old, I knew what I wanted to do,” says Tom, who was born and raised in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley where his father owned a vineyard management company. He stuck close to his dad, and remembers the day that as a pre-schooler, he rode along with his father to deliver grapes at Simi Winery. There he met Isabelle Simi, who he remembers as an older lady wearing with buttons all over her blouse.
After college, he took a job with Franciscan Estate winery in the Napa Valley before accepting an offer at Simi Winery, where he has now worked for eight harvests.
“I’m tied to the land,” Tom says, “and I have an innate need for change, In the vineyards, I don’t have to look for change. With each season, with the weather, the vineyards are always changing.”