About Laetitia Vineyard & Winery
Vice President of Vineyard Operations, Lino Bozzano, begins fulfilling that vision of sustainability by farming the vines according to the winemakers' styles, the disposition of the varieties, and their particular growing conditions.
"There is tremendous diversity in this small area, from the soils to the meso-climates," says Lino, a third-generation California farmer and graduate of Cal Poly's Crop Science program. "It's the perfect venue for understanding what site means to the wines."
His fastidious attention to the estate's 600+ acres of vines and the unity of purpose he shares with winemakers Eric Hickey and Dave Hickey bring clarity, focus, and grace to each bottle of Laetitia wine.
A deep and abiding respect for Laetitia's estate-grown fruit is the mark of Eric Hickey's winemaking. Beginning his hands-on training in the cellar at the tender age of 16, Eric has lived and breathed Laetitia all the way to the top, where he is now the Head Winemaker and the winery's President.
"I keep it simple," he says, "and I stay eye-to-eye with Lino because the interplay between us is what determines the wines' quality. Everything done in the cellar starts with what we do out in the vineyard."
Laetitia's Sparkling Winemaker and Vice President Production, Dave Hickey, is a self-described student of the vines.
"The vineyards were planted in 1982, and I came on in 1985," he says. "Working with the same fruit for so long translates into a lot of knowledge."
Trained in Méthode Champenoise winemaking by French traditionalists, Dave uses the winery's Coquard grape presses (the only two in North America and the gold standard for winemaking in Champagne) as the foundation for sparkling wines that have attracted devotees to the Laetitia Estate for decades.
Selim Zilkha was born in Bagdad in 1927. He grew up in Lebanon and then in Egypt. His family emigrated to the US in 1941. He graduated with a BA from Williams College and after serving in the US Army worked for his father in the banking business. He was living in England in 1960 when he founded Mothercare, a chain of stores that specialized in everything for the mother-to-be and her baby. Mothercare became a large international success, with shops on high streets all over Europe. In 1982 Selim sold Mothercare and moved back to the United States where he founded Zilkha Energy Company, an oil and gas exploration company which by the time it was sold in 1998 had become the largest acreage owner on the shelf in the Gulf of Mexico. He subsequently founded Zilkha Renewable Energy Company (now Horizon Wind Energy) which when it was sold to Energias de Portugal in 2007 was the second largest wind developer in the United States. Selim's principal business currently, Zilkha Biomass Energy, has developed a black pellet made from wood which can be used to co-fire or replace coal in coal plants. He also has a farming project in the Yucatan growing Jatropha for biodiesel.
Selim had always dreamed of farming in California. In 1998 he was fortunate to acquire Laetitia Vineyard and Winery. Since then he has considerably expanded it and has worked with President and Head Winemaker, Eric Hickey, and Vice President Vineyard Operations, Lino Bozzano, to develop the best farming practices that support long-term sustainability.
Nadia’s career in wine began in 1998, when her father, Selim Zilkha, acquired a vineyard in the Sierra Madre Mountains as well as an estate winery and vineyard in Arroyo Grande. Though neither growing region was as well known as the Napa Valley, Selim felt that both held much promise in the production of fine wines. He invited Nadia, who had cultivated her own passion and appreciation of fine wine and cuisine, to assist him in realizing the potential of his recently-purchased vineyard. Soon thereafter, Nadia joined him in launching Laetitia Vineyard & Winery and NADIA Wines as family-owned and operated brands.
Nadia has found that the wine industry allows her to express herself not only as a businesswoman, but also as a creative, adventurous artist. A gifted painter and writer, Nadia frequently applies her artistic talents to the further development of each winery brand. Instrumental in branding efforts for both labels, she often consults with the vineyard and winery crew, and can be found representing Laetitia and NADIA wines at national events and conferences.
“A winery brand is only as successful as the people who care about it, who nurture it, who impart to it some measure of singularity and vision,” says Nadia. “My father and I have been fortunate enough to work with brilliant vineyards, and an equally talented and brilliant group of people. We do everything in our power to translate these components into a family of wines that capture the senses and that deliver to the consumer a rare experience at very reasonable prices.”
Eric HickeyPresident & Head Winemaker
Eric began his relationship with the Laetitia Estate in 1988 when he was just 16 years old, working in the cellar with his dad, Dave Hickey, who was a production assistant for Maison Deutz at the time. Seizing the golden opportunity to apprentice with French winemakers, Eric joined the Maison Deutz team full-time after graduating from high school. From vintage to vintage, he gained a deep appreciation for the property's fruit, while also taking time to explore the Rhône, Burgundy and Bordeaux in France and participating in an extension program through U.C. Davis.
In 2000, Eric was named Head Winemaker and General Manager, overseeing the still wine program, and has since become President of Laetitia Vineyard & Winery. With a winemaking style that balances Old World tradition with cutting-edge California, Eric consistently produces generous, articulate wines that are true to the character of the Laetitia Estate.
Lino BozzanoVice President of Vineyard Operations
Lino Bozzano comes by his title of Vice President Vineyard Operations honestly; as a third-generation California farmer, he has been learning how to steward the land since childhood. After graduating from Cal Poly with a degree in Crop Science in 1996, he took a viticulture position at Bien Nacido Vineyard, home to some of the most revered fruit and most respected winemakers in the world. By observing the effects of his vineyard practices, the soils, and the climate on the finished wines, Lino gained a pragmatist’s understanding of what it means to be a “wine-grower”.
He later went on to manage vineyards for the David Bruce Winery, witnessing drastically different growing conditions at 2,200 feet in the Santa Cruz Mountain appellation. But in 2004, Lino returned to the Central Coast to take the position of Vice President Vineyard Operations for Laetitia, and has been a vital member of the team ever since. His knowledge of the 620 acres under vines extends to nuances in soil type, topography and micro-climate of any given vineyard row, not to mention the seven grape varieties – including ten clones of Pinot Noir – grown on the estate.
In terms of style, “Every block is approached from a ‘wine-growing’ standpoint,” says Lino. “My goal is to farm every block of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in a way that will distinctively express the site.”
Dave HickeyVice President of Production
Dave Hickey's career as Vice President Production and Sparkling Winemaker began unexpectedly in 1985 when he was hired for construction and clean-up at Laetitia’s predecessor, Maison Deutz. During his time around the winery, Dave became fascinated with the traditional Méthode Champenoise for sparkling winemaking.
“I was a willing student, and the winemaker was a willing teacher,” says Dave, adding, “I love to learn.”
It wasn’t long before he was invited to join the Maison Deutz staff assisting in sparkling wine production and overseeing winery systems operations.
Like his son, Eric Hickey, Dave made the all-important journey to France to supplement his hands-on education by observing the styles and techniques of noted Champagne producers. In addition, Dave has received comprehensive training from several esteemed sparkling wine consultants in both the New and Old World styles.
Dave became Laetitia's Sparkling Winemaker in 1999 and has since become the Vice President Production and brought his accumulated experience and artistry to bear on the winery's award-winning series of sparkling wines.