Ep. 19: Stephana Nicolescou of Domaine Andrea Calek

Ep. 19: Stephana Nicolescou of Domaine Andrea Calek

From Chicago to Ardèche. A chat with the highly experienced Illinois native who has, since 2017, made wine alongside famed Czech vigneron Andrea Calek.
Stephana Nicolescou, Feb. 2019. The couple has since left Calek’s iconic trailer in favor of a house they built on the estate.

Despite the fact that I was in art before, I don’t perceive tending vines and making wine as art. And therefore I myself don’t feel comfortable excusing my prices because it’s a special little artsy thing... It’s not what I’ve been learning for the last fifteen years. - Stephana Nicolescou

Half-French, half-Romanian, and raised in Chicago, Stephana Nicolescou is a well-traveled natural wine jack-of-all-trades who, since 2017, has been helping run the 5ha Ardèche estate of her companion, renowned Czech vigneron Andrea Calek. In 2019 and 2020, she also produced négociant micro-cuvées of her own as Une Strop1, an Ardèche cinsault and a Loir-et-Cher cabernet franc, respectively. In addition to her winemaking activities, she is an avid scuba diver and amateur pilot, and routinely organizes a natural wine stand at the Django Reinhardt Jazz Festival in Fontainebleau.

Nicolescou left the USA to attend art school in Paris at age eighteen. Her introduction to natural wine came a few years later, after dropping out, when she managed the popular 1st-arrondissement natural wine bar Le Garde Robe. She left the position in 2011 to embrace wine production, first working in Andalucia for Bodega Cauzon, and later for Clos Roche Blanche and Michel Augé of Les Maisons Brûlées. She moved to Ardèche in 2014 with her then-companion Samuel Boulay, who had taken up the vineyards of retiring Ardèche natural wine pioneer Gilles Azzoni. When that relationship ended, she returned to Spain, where she worked for Bodega Marenas, before returning to Ardèche at the end of 2016 to work for Andrea Calek

I first met Nicolescou shortly after arriving to Paris in 2009, when I worked in central Paris and frequented apéro hours at Le Garde Robe. I lost track of her when she left for Spain, only to re-encounter her in 2018, when I arrived for a tasting appointment with Calek and was surprised to see another familiar face. Nowadays I make a stop at the couple’s handsome bioclimatic abode whenever I’m in the region, most recently before the Montpellier salons in late January, when we recorded this podcast. Check it out for Nicolescou’s plans for her own winemaking; her perspective on the Chicago natural wine scene; and how she intends to survive a zombie apocalypse in Ardèche.


This is a free episode of the NOT DRINKING POISON podcast. For access to all episodes - plus years of natural wine profiles, reports, and interviews - please subscribe!


NDP Podcast Series III: Les Emigré(e)s - Expat Natural Winemakers in France
Ep. 14: Katie Worobeck of Maison Maenad
Ep. 15: Hannah Fuellenkemper of ABRACADABRA
Ep. 16: Joe Jefferies of Les Bories Jefferies
Ep. 17: Jon Purcell of Vin Noé
Ep. 18: Michele Smith-Chapel of Domaine Chapel
Ep. 20: Kenji Hodgson of Vins Hodgson
Ep. 21: Stephen Roberts of Fondugues-Pradugues
Ep. 22: Oriane Rosner of Ori Vin

A Feb. 2021 piece about disgorging pét-nat with Stephana Nicolescou.
The Legend of Andrea Calek’s Grande Arnaque

NDP Podcast Series I: Paris Natural Wine Lifers, Part I
NDP Podcast Series I: Paris Natural Wine Lifers, Part II

NDP Podcast Series II: Contemporary Paris Natural Wine, Part I
NDP Podcast Series II: Contemporary Paris Natural Wine, Part II


“One drop,” in Romanian.

Natural wine culture, by Aaron Ayscough. Reporting from Paris since 2010. Roughly a third of this podcast is available for free. For access to the other episodes - and to heaps of wine interviews, profiles, translations, commentary, and more - subscribe to