Wine and Food Festival, San Diego Bay, Nicole HitchcockNicole

Head Winemaker
J Vineyards & Winery

Born and raised in Carmel, California, Nicole Hitchcock first discovered her passion for wine while working alongside well-respected sommeliers in restaurants. What drew her in especially was the worldwide appeal and diversity of wine.

“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, earning a degree in Viticulture and Enology and minoring in Italian language, a combination that enabled her to work at an agriturismo in Todi, Umbria for a summer. On graduation from UC Davis, Nicole worked the 2001 harvest at Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley, and 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 U.S., 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 at Gallo of Sonoma Winery.

Today, Nicole is the head winemaker at J Vineyards & Winery, where she oversees all aspects of winemaking, from managing operations to supervising the laboratory team. 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. In addition to her role as head winemaker, Nicole is simultaneously working towards earning her MBA in Wine Business from Sonoma State University.

Nicole enjoys gardening, traveling, cooking, yoga and learning as much as she can about wine.