Nicole Walsh

Nicole Walsh

Ser (Winemaker & Owner)

Nicole Walsh was born in Saginaw, MI, in 1975 and graduated with honors from Michigan State University in 1998. She majored in Viticulture and Enology at a time when the undergraduate department at MSU comprised two students. This provided a rare opportunity to be guided by graduate professors to receive an education in Horticulture with a focus on growing grapes and making wine. During her last semester at MSU, she attended a sustainable agriculture institution, Universidad EARTH, in Costa Rica. It was there that Nicole was able to become proficient in the Spanish language as well as to solidify her commitment to sustainable agriculture.

Upon graduation, Nicole worked for four years in the Michigan wine industry on the Leelanau peninsula where she managed vineyards and made wine. In 2001, she married the love of her life, Kevin Walsh, and together they moved to Santa Cruz, CA. She started working with Randall Grahm at Bonny Doon Vineyard in February of that year. Her tenure at Bonny Doon was briefly interrupted in 2008 when she moved with her husband and young son to Marlborough, New Zealand. The following year, she was brought back to Santa Cruz to develop Bonny Doon’s newest property in San Juan Bautista. She continues to manage that property as well as to make wine at Bonny Doon's winery in Santa Cruz, where she is the production manager.

In 2012, inspired by her New Zealand experience, especially with Pinot Noir, Nicole started her own wine brand, Ser, an artisanal winery based in Santa Cruz. Working with local Santa Cruz Mountain growers provided her with fruit from distinct microclimates in the appellation, thereby gaining valuable knowledge of the area. She was also able to start experimenting with several other varietals, such as Riesling, Chardonnay, Syrah, Mourvedre, and a more unknown variety, Cabernet Pfeffer, using her contacts with other California grower to obtain the fruit. By selecting interesting vineyards with special soils and microclimates, Nicole meets her goal of preserving the unique character of varieties and sources in her wines.

In her over two decades in the wine industry, Nicole has held every position in wine production, including associate winemaker, vineyard manager, and grower-relations manager. She continues to augment her credentials in the wine industry, having received her level 4 diploma from WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) in 2013, an accomplishment universally considered as the stepping stone to the Master of Wine qualification.

As for her being a woman in a male-dominated field, Nicole opines that “it is empowering for other women to see a woman making wine . . .Women customers, when they taste the wine and I tell them I am the winemaker, their eyes light up, there is interest, more questions asked.”

Nicole lives at the ocean’s edge with her husband and two sons. Her location affords her the opportunity to engage in surfing, another love of her life.