Winemaker Q&A With Britt Nichols
This week, we sat down with in-house winemaker Britt Nichols, the mastermind behind the Wine Access favorite label Nichols and our new Kinfolk brand. A Napa native, Britt knows the ins and outs of Napa better than almost everyone, and the kids she played within the sandbox have, in many cases, grown up to become the most influential winemakers and grape growers in the country.
WA: How did you get into wine?
BN: Growing up, I had a crush on a boy whose Mom happened to own a winery and vineyard in the Sierra Foothills, and I thought she was the absolute coolest. I always had an affinity for science and it was really the only thing I have ever wanted to do. Well, other than a small period of time where I thought I’d be a pediatric dentist!
WA: Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
BN: No. Never. I think everything that happens in our lives brings us to where we are, and I’m pretty content with where I am. I’m not much for regrets.
WA: On any given weeknight, what are you most likely to be drinking?
BN: A gin and tonic or hot tea. If I am drinking wine, it is usually Chardonnay or sparkling wine.
WA: What wines inspire you?
BN: Anything well-made really. I’m not really into fads, so mainly steadfast wineries that have maintained quality over time. Some of my favorite producers are the wineries I managed to work for such as Chappellet, Peter Michael and Jordan. Off the top of my head: Pride Mountain Vineyard, Roederer, Navarro, and Iron Horse.
Although I do remember the first wine that inspired me was a Bergstrom Pinot Noir. I felt this entire myriad of flavors brush through my palate, and I was hooked.
WA: How has your approach to winemaking changed over the years?
BN: I have learned to follow my gut and how something tastes. While I feel it is very important to maintain proper quality standards with wines, at the end of the day I think it should just taste amazing.
WA: What brings you the most joy?
BN: My family, and watching my boys eat way too many grapes when we are walking a vineyard.
WA: What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you during harvest?
BN: I fell asleep in a tank once and no one seemed to notice...I blame the brutal hours of the harvest season. I also met my husband during harvest so that was a total mess, but it worked out for me in the end!
WA: If you could make wine from any other region in the world, where would you go?
BN: British Columbia! I have always been interested in working with cold climate grapes varieties like Riesling and Gewurtraminer—they are so different than what we have here in Napa.
WA: What’s the #1 thing you want all wine drinkers to remember?
BN: To remember to enjoy it. It’s my job to obsess over the details of a wine. Once you have bought that bottle please sit back relax and hopefully I have made your day a little lighter
WA: What do you love about making wine for Wine Access?
BN: The culture of Wine Access. Everyone here is very enthusiastic about what we are doing, and the wines we make.
WA: In the Wine Access store, what would you most like to drink right now?
BN: I love Kale Wine's Home Run Cuvèe, and have been drinking the Domaine Langlois-Chateau Cremant De Loire Brut and Franz Hirtzberger Riesling. I also just noticed the Grand Slam Summer Set, which looks awesome, and would love to treat myself to a magnum of the Billecart-Salmon Champagne.