Gilles Nicault has served as director of winemaking and viticulture since Long Shadows’ inception in 2003. In 2016, Seattle magazine named him Washington State’s Winemaker of the Year.
As Long Shadows’ resident winemaker overseeing daily operations at Long Shadows’ state-of-the-art winery in Walla Walla, Gilles works with a group of celebrated vintners from around the globe. It is his job to ensure that each winemaker’s vision is realized in the vineyard and the cellar. While many winemakers would find this a daunting task, French-born Nicault describes the position as his “dream job.” Those who know Gilles best say it is his winemaking skills combined with an insatiable curiosity and desire to learn something new every day that make him uniquely qualified for the position.
In addition to managing daily operations at the winery, Gilles is the winemaker for Chester-Kidder, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah blend and one of six acclaimed red wines in the Long Shadows’ portfolio. He is also the winemaker for Côté Nicault, his GSM signature blend launched with the support of Long Shadows to honor his Old World heritage and New World winemaking.
Gilles grew up in southern France and graduated from the University of Avignon with a degree in viticulture and enology. He honed his craft in the fabled hillside vineyards and wineries of Côte du Rhône, Provence and Champagne. In 1994, already a vintner of rising fame in his homeland, Gilles traveled to Washington State to expand his winemaking skills.
Impressed by Washington State’s vineyards and the opportunity to be part of a growing wine community, he stayed in the Columbia Valley, working for Staton Hills and Hogue Cellars before joining Woodward Canyon in 1996, where he stayed until moving to Long Shadows in June 2003. Sharing Woodward Canyon’s passion for world-class wines, Gilles soon found Woodward Canyon’s founder Rick Small was his ideal mentor and biggest champion. In 1999, Woodward Canyon named Gilles head of enology and production.
Gilles is married to French-born winemaker Marie-Eve Gilla of Forgeron Cellars, an acclaimed winemaker in her own right. The couple lives in Walla Walla with their two children, Olivier and Suzanne.