Nick Picone is Group Chief Winemaker at Villa Maria Estate Ltd, he completed his first vintage at Esk Valley Estate in Hawkes Bay when he was just 18. Nick completed a BA in Wine Science in Hawkes Bay and became Villa Maria’s youngest Assistant Winemaker at 24 relocating to Marlborough. In 2004, he was promoted to Winemaker and in the same year was independently awarded the Yalumba Scholarship to attend Len Evans tutorial in the Hunter Valley, becoming the third New Zealander to ever do so which confirmed his presence in New Zealand wine judging circles, an involvement he has maintained for the last fifteen years. In 2008, he became Villa Maria’s Senior Auckland Winemaker, overseeing the winery’s North Island production in Hawkes Bay and Gisborne. In June 2015, he became Chief Winemaker of the Villa Maria Group.
In 2012 Nick became the first New Zealand winemaker to win The Wine Society Young Winemaker of the Year title, and has won either ‘New Zealand Winemaker of the Year’ or ‘Winemaker of the Show’ on nine separate occasions over the past ten years.