Nick Picone, Senior Winemaker, Villa Maria, Auckland

Born, Bred, Schooled

Born and Bred Napier, Hawkes Bay and still proud to support the Magpies... 8 different schools attended between Hawkes Bay, Australia and Te Kauwhata. Completed 7th form at Te Kauwhata College with a Certificate in Grape and Wine production and BA in Wine Science obtained from EIT Hawkes Bay between 1996 - 2002.

First wine industry job

Esk Valley Estate cellar door and cellar hand, 1996.

First real (full time) job (outside of school/uni holidays)

Esk Valley, cellar hand, 1997.

Career Highlight

There are a few...Promotion from Assistant winemaker to Winemaker, achieving a dream in the
process. Being awarded the Yalumba scholarship to attend the Len Evans tutorial in Australia
the same year made 2004 a particularly good year for highlights! Vintage in Barolo, and visiting the wineries of South America and Bordeaux (all in the name of work of course!) But ultimately being made Senior Winemaker for Villa Maria, NZ's most awarded winery.

Cat? Dog?

Well, I would have to say dog... The problem is we have two cats...One of whom is called Bruce!

Desert island wine and food.

If I have to put Gimblett Gravels reds and Hawkes Bay Chardonnay aside for once, perhaps
Piedmont, Barolo and the fine fare of north-west Italy, it doesn't get much better IMO.


Professionally I would have to name 3 as they have all played a part - Gordon Russell, George
Geris, Corey Ryan.

5 Dinner table companions, dead or alive

Can I cheat and have 6?
My late grandfather Jim Picone who I never had the pleasure of meeting. He can be head of table.
Then David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Rick Wright (RIP), aka Pink Floyd. As long as Dave and Roger can get along for 1 evening!
Last of all - Sponge Bob Square Pants. My daughter thinks the world of him.

Greatest achievement

Do your kids count? If so, they win hands down, with daylight second... Being awarded joint NZ
Winemaker of the year at the 2011 Royal Easter Show is perhaps the pinnacle of my professional career achievements to date.

New Zealand wine industry needs...

To embrace sustainability in the wider sense, not just green - which is very important - but to
remain relentless in the pursuit of quality, a major key to ensure our industry remains sustainable.

If you weren't working in the wine industry, what would you be doing?

I'm fascinated by the brewing and craft process in general, so craft beer would be next in line.

One thing about you people might be surprised to learn?

I was extremely close to joining the NZ Army as a mechanic when I finished high school... What a different life that would have been! That I use to race motocross. Also how mad I am about guitars and music.

If you had the day off tomorrow what would you like to do.

I simply can't get enough of my beautiful kids... Spending time with them after work always comes first. I love being near water so taking them to play in the sand at a nice beach on a warm sunny day is my definition of bliss. If can squeeze an hour or two in playing my guitars in the afternoon before decanting a good red and putting a good meal on to enjoy with my lovely wife Mandy I will take it...




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