With more than 15 years of experience working with cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir on three continents, Sally Nightingale guides small lot winemaking at Cuvaison, with a focus on exploring the diversity of our renowned 200-acre Los Carneros estate to create our acclaimed Small Lot, Micro Lot and Legacy wines. In collaboration with longtime Winemaker Steve Rogstad, Sally also guides Cuvaison’s research program in areas such as yeast trials, cooperage selection, clonal and rootstock combinations, and innovative viticultural and vinification techniques, with the goal of continually elevating Cuvaison’s wines to ever-greater heights.
Sally was raised on a sheep farm near Australia’s famed Coonawarra wine region, where she developed a love of the land, and a passion for wine, early in life. After working her first winery internship at the age of 15, she went on to earn a B.S. in winemaking and a B.A. in agricultural science from the University of Adelaide in 2003. The following year, Sally join the winemaking team at New Zealand’s Wither Hills Winery. Eager to gain a more global perspective, while also developing a focus on small-lot Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Sally spent a year abroad with Wither Hill’s blessing, working at Andy Smith’s DuMOL winery in Sonoma County, and at Maison Camille Giroud in Burgundy.
In 2006, after returning from France, Sally was named the assistant winemaker at Wither Hills, where she honed her craft working alongside noted winemakers Ben Glover and Nadine Croft. “Ben taught me to listen to the land and the vines, to push boundaries and try new things,” says Sally. “Nadine instilled in me the importance of organization, attention to the smallest details, and to constantly strive for excellence. My style is a marriage of these two approaches.” In recognition of her skill and gifted palate, Sally was promoted to lead winemaker for Wither Hills’ Pinot Noir and Chardonnay programs in 2008, where she spent the next decade refining the winery’s approach to the great Burgundian varietals.
In 2019, after 15 years at Wither Hills, Sally returned to California to become the small lot and research winemaker for Cuvaison. “As a winemaker who has dedicated my professional life to making Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this is a remarkable opportunity to work with an historic winery and vineyard in one of the world’s great cool-climate wine regions. I love focusing on small parcels of our estate, and the iconic vineyards we partner with. It’s incredibly inspiring to be in Los Carneros exploring different expressions of terroir.
Country born: Australia
Education: B.S. Winemaking and B.A. Agricultural Science - University of Adelaide
Years in the wine industry: 15-20 years