As far as the wine­mak­ing chores are con­cerned, Nick Morello does prac­ti­cally all of the work at his bou­tique win­ery. This is not to say that he doesn’t pack the proper credentials.

Nick spent almost four years in the vaunted con­fines of the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Davis, for­mer home to most of California’s (and many for­eign) most suc­cess­ful wine­mak­ers. He majored in viticulture/enology and learned from his studies.

His first actual job in the work­place was with Leona Val­ley Win­ery in Leona Valley, located in North­ern Los Ange­les County. It was 2003 and the win­ery was a startup that made Nick Morello its first wine­maker. The asso­ci­a­tion lasted until 2009 when Morello left to work on Morello Wines on a full time basis. He now also serves as a con­sult­ing wine­maker to sev­eral small winer­ies includ­ing Brave & Maiden Estate in nearby Santa Ynez.

Morello con­sid­ers his style of wine­mak­ing as clas­si­cal in nature, with a favor­ing of Rhône vari­etals includ­ing the Syrah and Viog­nier vari­etals. He points to Robert Mondavi’s Geneviève Janssens as his biggest influ­ence in the wine busi­ness. He embraces her phi­los­o­phy that cre­ativ­ity in wines comes from within uti­liz­ing tra­di­tional wine­mak­ing techniques.


Nick Morello is a multi-faceted per­son who has already had three dif­fer­ent careers at the youth­ful age of 46.

After grad­u­at­ing from the Uni­ver­sity of Mis­souri Rolla with a geo­physics degree, he entered the oil busi­ness and was quite suc­cess­ful until a down­turn in the oil indus­try forced him to alter his plans. Morello was always an excel­lent golfer and he decided to pur­sue a career as a pro­fes­sional golfer.

He lasted more than five years, mostly on the Nike Tour for up and com­ing golf pros.

“In my best year, I earned over $40,000,” he recalled dur­ing a recent inter­view. “But my expenses were around $30,000, so I didn’t see much of a future in golf.”

After meet­ing his wife Julie, he admits to becom­ing engrossed by the wine business.

“We met such won­der­ful peo­ple in the busi­ness,” he related, “and we both felt it was sort of a nat­ural fit.”

The cou­ple set­tled in Santa Bar­bara and Morello Wines became a real­ity. Ten years later, the laid back Morello believes it has all come together for Morello Wines. His favorite grape vari­etal has become the Syrah, the dar­ling of France’s Rhône Valley.

“I’ve always cho­sen extremely dif­fi­cult career choices,” he con­fessed. “It seems nat­ural to me that I would favor the Syrah, one of the most dif­fi­cult vari­etals to work with. A French friend of mine once told me, ‘A Syrah is very much like an ado­les­cent child. It is good this week and bad the next. Even­tu­ally, they all turn out great but one must have great patience with them.’”

While his fam­ily (that includes a son and daugh­ter) is Morello’s great­est bless­ing, he feels that the plea­sure he gives his cus­tomers is his best reward from the wine business.


“I have got­ten emails at 2:30 in the morn­ing about how good my wine was for someone.”

“That’s what it is all about. I don’t craft my wines for high scores; in fact I don’t even enter them in com­pe­ti­tions. A wine designed for a high score is not always that drink­able. Every­one says my wines are made for peo­ple to enjoy and I’m per­fectly happy with that.”

Morello also feels that his wines have earned the tag of endur­ing, a rel­a­tive rar­ity in today’s wine mar­ket. A recent com­mu­ni­ca­tion from one of his cus­tomers alluded to the fact that the cus­tomer had recently opened a 10-year-old bot­tle of Morello and declared the wine ‘phe­nom­e­nal.’ Such plau­dits are the essence of Nick Morello’s psy­che and life. He is most con­tented sit­ting in his back­yard with a group of friends enjoy­ing food and sev­eral (make that numer­ous) bot­tles of wine when­ever the occa­sion arises.

“I have no regrets,” he said emphat­i­cally. “I wouldn’t change any­thing the next time around. I have a won­der­ful fam­ily and a great group of friends who enjoy doing what Julie and I enjoy. If some­one has a bet­ter way of liv­ing, please let me know.”

Nick Morello is not the typ­i­cal win­ery owner or wine­maker. He adamantly believes in him­self and his wines, no holds barred. His small win­ery pro­duces incred­i­bly good wines that appeal to most palates and taste groups. Morello Wines’ pric­ing ratio embraces his phi­los­o­phy that wine is made for every­one to enjoy and should be priced accordingly.