Meet Steve Nelson, head winemaker at Chalk Hill Estate.
Steve Nelson started out as a Genetics major at UC Davis; it wasn’t until his senior year of college that he discovered his true passion for wine when he took an introductory course in winemaking. “Once I realized that winemaking was way cooler than biotech, I went to work in the lab at Joseph Phelps in the Napa Valley.” He then changed his path and graduated in 2010 from UC Davis with a Master’s of Science degree in Viticulture and Enology. His research study while attending the University was on tannin extraction chemistry. After his stint at Joseph Phelps as a harvest Lab Tech, Steve went on to work harvests in both Italy and South Australia. While in Australia Steve worked at a famous house called Henschke Cellars, where they specialize in making Shiraz from some of the oldest vines on the planet! The 2006 Hill of Grace received 98 Points from Wine Spectator. After traveling and working abroad for some time Steve made his way back to California.
Once back in the states, he worked as an Enologist at Joel Gott Wines and a Flavorist at Sovereign Flavors. This is when he finally returned back to UC Davis to get his Master’s Degree. Upon graduating in 2010, Steve was hired as Assistant Wine- maker at Sebastiani Vineyards, where he was also later named the Winemaker for Discoveries. He then moved on to be the Assistant Winemaker at Lewis Cellars in Napa. Overall Steve has over 10 years of experience in the wine industry since his first harvest in 2004.
When asked about his new position as head Winemaker at Chalk Hill Steve said, “I’m really excited to unravel the intricacies of Chalk Hill Estate. Chalk Hill established itself as a world class producer of Chardonnay from the beginning. On its own, that is exciting enough. But the Estate also produces excellent examples of more esoteric wines like Sauvignon Gris, Sauvignon Musque, Carmenere, Petite Verdot, and Malbec. The Chalk Hill vineyard team has worked for over 35 years trying to match the correct grape variety and clone to the myriad soil types, exposures, and microclimates; I’m excited to work with the fruit from these vines and to continue to refine and perfect the wines that come from this estate.”
Steve has a beautiful wife and two small children. In his free time his favorite things to do are anything with his family (reading, playing games, tickling, etc.). He also enjoys epicurean arts, hiking, walking around vineyards, and playing tennis.