meet the team
Led by winemaker and general manager Tom Carson, the Yabby Lake team is a dedicated group of long-standing, passionate wine and hospitality people who bring a raft of expertise to this dynamic operation. We love what we do here at Yabby Lake, and we hope that it shows!
Scroll below to read their stories.
our team - their stories
Winemaker and General Manager
Yabby Lake General Manager and Chief Winemaker, Tom Carson also holds several wine judging roles including his current post as Chairman of the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards. Previously, Tom was the youngest Chairman to preside at The National Wine Show in Canberra, and over the years he has judged at a number of capital city and regional shows, and sat on the Qantas Wine Panel from 2004 until 2015.
Tom graduated from Oenology at Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1991. His first vintages as a winemaker followed at Tim Knappstein in the Clare Valley (1991 & 92) and it was here that Tom discovered the potential for pinot noir in Australia, working with the first two vintages of Lenswood Vineyards Pinot Noir. Tom first travelled to Burgundy in 1992 and in between two consecutive vintages, returned to Australia as assistant winemaker to James Halliday at Coldstream Hills (1993 & 94).
In 1996, Tom took up the opportunity to realise the vision of the Rathbone family, new owners of Yering Station in the Yarra Valley. During his 12 years at the helm, the winery met with significant international acclaim including 'International Winemaker of the Year' at the 2004 International Wine and Spirit Competition in London. During this period, Tom returned to France for several vintages - Burgundy (2000 at Domaine Bernard Moreau in Chassagne Montrachet) and Champagne (1996 at Champagne Devaux, Bar-sur-Seine & 2002 - Les Gras and Haas, Chouilly on the Cote de Blanc). In 2002, Tom was named the Dux of the Len Evans Tutorial which marked the beginning of his wine judging career.
Tom joined Yabby Lake in 2008 and his vision for the direction and potential of Yabby Lake Vineyard and Heathcote Estate has seen some exciting recognition in recent times.
Winemaker and Winery Manager
Chris has been with the Yabby Lake family for a remarkable 20 vintages, with an in depth knowledge of the two vineyard sites and their evolution over this period. Chris’ exposure to the wine industry began at an early age when his grandfather was a grape grower, turned winemaker in the Yarra Valley. From 1993 to 2001 he worked with his family to successfully create a wine and tourism business in the Yarra Valley.
Chris has undertaken a number of overseas vintages including two vintages in Burgundy. His greatest highlight so far was working with Pinot Noir from Vosne Romanee and Gevrey Chambertin. Chris enjoys the nature of winemaking and its constant learning curve. Each vintage is different, and from one vintage to another you accumulate a little bit more knowledge that you can apply to the following year. This is why Chris admires and finds the process of making wine so refreshing - there’s always something new to learn, always an opportunity to better the quality of the wine. Chris’ wine of choice is (you guessed it) pinot noir, and chardonnay his favourite of the white varieties.
Luke has been part of the team at Yabby Lake and Heathcote Estate for more than 15 years. Having grown up in the local industry in Heathcote, Luke began his career in the vineyard picking fruit on the weekends whilst he was still at high school. After completing high school, Luke went on to study a Wine Science Degree while continuing to work for us at Heathcote Estate. He has a keen interest in wine show judging and to date has been involved in the Melbourne, Victorian, Yarra Valley and Heathcote wine shows.
Luke has also completed the AWAC Advanced Wine Sensory Course in Adelaide (2012) and worked five vintages overseas including two vintages in Burgundy (Domaine Bernard Moreau during 2011 and 2013), one in 2009 in the Rhone Valley, France (Saint Joseph) and two at Escarpment in Martinborough, New Zealand. Luke finds inspiration and pride in the ‘grass-roots’ process of creating a wine, guiding its evolution from the bunch of fruit in the very beginning to the end product in the bottle. The additional opportunity for travel is also a bonus and allows him to indulge a great love for pinot noir.
Vineyard Manager, Yabby Lake
Bio coming soon.
Yabby Lake head chef Michael Gwizdek was born in the East Gippsland town of Bairnsdale. Over his career he has amassed a wealth of experience from some of Melbourne’s most iconic restaurants to Michelin star European establishments and several local Mornington Peninsula stalwarts.
His love affair with food and kitchens began with one of Melbourne’s pioneers of Italian restaurants, David Triaca, a co-founder of the Latin and continued on as he worked for Jeremy Strode at Pomme. Then came a move down Toorak Road to the Sardinian inspired kitchen of Da Noi, first as sous chef, then head chef. After six years at this classic South Yarra Italian, Michael enjoyed posts at the Kingston Hotel and revered St Kilda local, Carlisle Wine Bar.
Another defining experience came while completing his English degree on exchange at the university of Copenhagen where Michael worked at the Michelin starred restaurant Godt owned by English chef Colin Rice and his Danish wife Marie Anne. There he immersed himself in the rich and diverse culture of Copenhagen and its surrounds.
Travels throughout Italy and France during this time grew his love for the food culture, attitudes and cooking techniques of this part of the world and remains the base of his inspiration in the kitchen today.
A relocation to the peninsula with his young family 12 years ago brought opportunities to cook at Salix with Bernard McCarthy, The National Golf Club and his own establishment at South Beach, Mount Martha. Yabby lake was lucky enough to have Michael spend some time working with the team during the summer of 2020-21, before inviting him back to take on the Head Chef role.