Born and raised in the Central Coast enclave of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, Nicole Hitchcock first discovered her passion for wine while working in restaurants, drawn in by wine’s diversity of styles and worldwide appeal.
“Wine is like a universal language. It can transcend physical and cultural boundaries, and ultimately brings people together,” Nicole explains. “From early on, I was enamored by all parts of the industry and process – the journey from vine to glass, the varying tastes and the cultural aspects.”
With all this in mind, Nicole began studies at the University of California at Davis. She earned a degree in Viticulture and Enology and a minor in the Italian language, a combination that enabled her to work at an agriturismo in Todi, Umbria for a summer.
Upon graduating from UC Davis, Nicole worked the 2001 harvest at Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley. The following year, she transitioned to a role in sales for E. & J. Gallo Winery, working with both retail and restaurant customers.
Nicole returned to the hands-on side of wine in 2004 when she traveled to Western Australia for a harvest internship at Houghton Winery. Back in the US, Nicole took a role as a winemaker in Northern California for E. & J. Gallo Winery, eventually working alongside third-generation winemaker Gina Gallo crafting Chardonnay. In 2015, Nicole earned an MBA from the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University, gaining an academic perspective on the business of the wine industry as well as how it will evolve in the future.
Today, Nicole is the head winemaker at J Vineyards & Winery, where she oversees all aspects of winemaking, from the cellar to the laboratory. Nicole’s passion for winemaking continues to grow as she crafts world-class sparkling and varietal wines from cool-climate fruit grown in the renowned Russian River Valley and Sonoma County.
Nicole enjoys gardening, traveling, cooking, yoga and learning as much as she can about wine.
Nicole is a panelist for the Translating Terroir Through Bubbles seminar on Saturday, March 4, from 9:30 am - 11:30 am.