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.
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.
Associate Winemaker Scott Anderson has a passion that is almost as strong as his love of wine: He’s crazy for baseball. Scott was a star athlete at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and later played shortstop in the minor leagues for the Colorado Rockies.
But it turned out, as good as he was at baseball, he’s better at making wine. When a major league career looked out of reach in 2004, he worked with his father appraising Central Coast vineyards and fell hard for wine.
With the dedication of an athlete, Scott began a career that would make him a different kind of big leaguer. His Bachelor of Science degree from Cal Poly earned him a job at J Vineyards & Winery as a lab assistant. His talent and work ethic helped him progress to roles as lab technician, then enologist, lab supervisor, and in 2011, to Assistant Winemaker for both sparkling and varietal wines.
Scott’s talent, his skill at gentle, respectful winemaking, and his deep understanding of small-lot wine production make him an enormously valuable member of the J winemaking team.
Scott lives in Healdsburg, and now, with nearly a decade of experience in the Russian River Valley, he has another passion – the sense of place and the individuality and extraordinary quality of the vineyards in the region.