Winemaker, Mount Veeder Winery
From a small town in central Illinois, Niki Williams grew up in a farming family that taught her to appreciate sunny days, rainstorms, hard work and healthy soil. Although Niki is a self-proclaimed “dirt geek,” her early professional life didn’t exactly put her on a trajectory towards a life in the vineyards.
She initially followed her creative side, earning a Bachelor of Arts in English from Illinois Wesleyan University and later a Master of Arts in Theater from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Post-graduation, she acted in theater, commercials, short films and improv shows. While acting, Niki also worked for a European travel company, through which she visited some of Europe’s top winemaking regions, sparking her love for wine along the way.
This spark eventually inspired a career change, so Niki entered the Viticulture & Enology program at University of California, Davis and received a Bachelor of Science in 2012.
After earning her degree, Niki gained experience working harvests at Franciscan Estate in Napa Valley and L’Avenir in South Africa. She returned to Napa Valley and worked for Merryvale Vineyards before coming back to Franciscan Estate and Mount Veeder Winery in 2015. She has a deep appreciation for the extreme terroir of Mount Veeder’s Estate vineyards and for the unique character of mountain fruit.
In addition to her role as Chief Winemaker for Mount Veeder Winery, Niki consults for The Prisoner Wine Company brand.
Country born: United States
Years in the wine industry: 9 years