Nicole Abiouness

Nicole Abiouness

Abiouness Wines (Winemaker & Owner)

After graduating from college in Virginia, Nicole realized that food and wine were her passions. In pursuit of those passions, in fall 1995 she moved to California’s Napa Valley and began studying at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in St. Helena. After taking all of the CIA’s available wine courses, she found work in the cellar at Swanson Vineyards, where she experienced grape sampling, juice pumping, barrel filling, and even tank shoveling. She fell in love with the entire winemaking process and thus began her journey of discovery.

Nicole traveled to the Barossa Valley, Australia for the harvest of 1996 where she worked at the Yalumba Winery. Later that year, she also worked the fall harvest at Chateau La Tour Blanche in Sauternes, France, and obtained a one-year degree in viticulture and oenology from the vineyard. While still in France in fall 1997, she moved to the Burgundy region to a small house in Pommard called Domaine Comte Armand, where she made Clos des Epeneaux in the traditional ‘stomp on the cap’ way.

Nicole returned to California and in fall 1998 accepted a cellar-rat position at Chappellet Winery. From there, John Kongsgaard hired her at Luna Vineyards where she stayed long enough to work her way up to cellar master. In 1999, while still at Luna, she acquired her first batch of Sangiovese grapes and attempted winemaking on her own.

In 2000, 10 rows of old vine Pinot Noir from Carneros came up for sale, and Nicole purchased them as the basis for what became Abiouness Wines in Napa Valley, a name that pays homage to her Lebanese father.

Nicole focuses on making Pinot Noir and Sangiovese varietals.