Nicki Pruss

Nicki Pruss

Nicolette Christopher (Winemaker & Owner)

Nicolette (Nicki) Pruss was on a very different career path when she was sidetracked by a fascination with wine. After graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara, the native Californian moved to Chicago where she graduated cum laude from the Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine and completed her podiatric surgery residency at Columbus Hospital. She returned to California as a podiatrist.

In 1995, Nicki took an extensive bicycle tour of the wine regions of France and Germany. For a long time, she had been an enthusiastic amateur beer maker, but during the European trip she realized that the career she wanted to pursue was in wine. She was attracted by the chance to combine technical science with artistry and the creative challenge of working with nature.

She returned to Northern California and began taking every class on wine and viticulture that Napa Valley College offered. One of her instructors was Bob Broman, winemaker at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars during the 1980s. He encouraged her to become an intern at the winery in 1998 and invited her to join the winemaking team.

Her talents were recognized quickly and nurtured by founding winemaker Warren Winiarski. She was promoted through the ranks of winemaking from lab tech to enologist/lab director and then to assistant winemaker, associate winemaker and finally, in 2005, winemaker, a position she held for nearly a decade. Throughout her time at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, she continued to take courses at the University of California, Davis. But most of her practical winemaking education occurred on the job.

During her tenure as winemaker at Stag’s Leap, Nicki was instrumental in revitalizing the winery’s Sauvignon Blanc program and in taking the Napa Valley regional Cabernet program to the estate-based ARTEMIS Cabernet program.

Nicki is currently focused on nurturing her own Napa Valley boutique wine, Nicolette Christopher. She and her partner Christopher Demetre founded Nicolette Christopher in 2001. They are specializing in producing high-end Cabernet Sauvignon.

Nicki holds a Certificate in Viticulture and Winery Technology from Napa Valley College, and she is a member of the American Society of Enology and Viticulture, the California Enological Research Association, and the Napa Valley Wine Technical Group.