Meet the Stonemason Cellars Team
TJ Elam - Winemaker/General Manager
Growing up with family in the Napa Valley, TJ visited often and was always surrounded by wine
talk. Because of his fondness for the area, he chose Sonoma State to pursue a business
degree. TJ had intentions of eventually going into hospitality, but the wine industry had other
plans for him.
During his last year at SSU, TJ worked sales in the tasting room of an ultra-premium winery in the Russian River Valley. It was here that he became infatuated with the wine industry, particularly the art of winemaking. Wanting to “learn in the trenches”, he chose to work a harvest on the production side. Working along very talented winemakers gave TJ an access to a wealth of knowledge every day, all the while picking up experience sorting fruit, managing fermentations, crushing fruit, blending and more. Next, TJ traveled to the Barossa Valley in Australia to work for one of the largest producers of wine in the country. There he learned about different view-points, grew his wine network and gained experience at a rapid rate.
With the dream of one day producing and selling his own wine, TJ’s next move was to obtain an MBA in Wine Business from his alma mater SSU. Inspired to use new knowledge, experience, and connections within the industry, TJ set out to bring high quality wines farmed locally directly to consumers without price spikes from “middle men”. With the help of many friends, mentorsand family, TJ has been able to go from dragging someone else's hose to dragging his own.
Francesca Parnigoni (Fran) - Marketing Director
Francesca was born on the East Coast, but moved at the age of 3 and has been raised in Wine Country ever since. She has a passion for education and spent several years working her way up to director at a local preschool before deciding to shift focus and major in Marketing and Wine Education. For the last few years, she has worked at a website design and marketing company which has allowed her to learn more about SEO, sales, and marketing as a whole.
During her free time, Francesca has visited her fair share of wineries while conducting market research. When asked, she says her favorite wines are rosé and a good pinot noir from Sancerre, although she also is a huge fan of the lesser known wines like Picpoul and Alicante Bouchet.
At Stonemason, you can find Francesca managing our Marketing Department, using the skills she learned through the years and her charismatic personality to take our brand to the next level.
Robert Slough - Culinary/Sales
A Buffalo, NY, native, Rob discovered first a passion for food, followed by a passion for wine and food pairings. A graduate of the culinary program at Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island, he worked in many restaurants, wine retailers, and as a private chef in the northeast before deciding to follow his increasing appreciation for all things ‘wine’ by driving across the country after accepting a harvest internship at Francis Ford Coppola Winery. A job in the tasting room at Williamson Wines followed, and Rob met TJ. Recognizing the passion and talent TJ brought to the dream of establishing Stonemason Cellars, Rob signed on as assistant winemaker/executive chef and continues to work on his sommelier certifications. His goal is to enhance the wine experience with pairings and help to produce fine wines.