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.