Gian N. Chief Distiller, Operations Manager

Napa, California

As the Chief Distiller and Operations Manager at Loch & Union Distilling, I have been involved in every aspect of Craft Distilling since its conception in 2016. Starting any business takes a team of knowledgeable people and having the experience and leadership needed is crucial to getting off the ground in this competitive industry. Setting yourself apart from the rest is the key to success. Whether it is still design, recipe development, operations, logistics, barrel management/profile, bottling, all the way to getting your finished product to the distributor, I have been hands on for all of it.

It would be my pleasure to lend a hand to those who are in any step of the Distilling process. I am passionate about my craft, and I am so fortunate to understand and share my knowledge in the following areas of this exciting, fast-growing industry:  Still Design, Recipe Development, Day-to-day Operations, Logistics, Barrel Management, Barrel Profile and Bottling.

How Opportunities and a Desire to Pursue Excellence Led Gian Nelson to Craft Distilling

Opportunities are not always ones that fall into your lap, but the ones that come your way, and you have no option but to grab that opportunity by the horns. Below, Gian Nelson shares his story on how he took these opportunities and created a career based on work ethic and integrity.

Gian’s journey to craft distilling

My path first began shortly after high school by enlisting in the United States Marines. The indoctrination of excellence and teamwork started from day one. After four years and a combat tour to Afghanistan, I learned the true meaning of those words. Following my time in the service, I was ready to see what the rest of the world had in store for me. 


However, after leaving the service, I was a bit lost. How do you spend four years of your adult life pursuing excellence and service to others, then having no direction or door to open? I was lucky to have found a love of winemaking through an old friend. Her family taught me that wine was a combination of hard work, creativity, and process. This way of working seemed like a perfect fit for me. 


So on I went, traveling to different wine regions in the state and world, soaking up every bit of information I could find to pursue my craft. Working every harvest, learning from seasoned winemakers, watching them problem solve, and perfect their family recipe. I felt confident that I was on the right path. Nothing was going to stop me. 


Once again, opportunity struck. While finishing a harvest in Napa, I met with an old friend who was starting a distillery. We sat and shared our wine ideas and how a potential distillery would run. In return for a couch to sleep on, I lent my thoughts. After showing him around the winery I was working at, he insisted I change paths to distilling, as he has never seen anyone work as hard I did that day. Did I just hit the peak of my career? Absolutely not. 


After a year of assembling the stills and installing the necessary equipment, our duty was to work as a team to create beautiful spirits and put them into the bottle. Easier said than done, considering I was a novice distiller. I took every day at the distillery as a classroom and poured myself into my craft. From learning to brew to coopering barrels to learning the science of distilling and how the flow of operations works. 


These days, I spend most of my time handling the infinite contracts that come our way. From the first conversation to seeing the bottle on a store shelf, it has taken this long to have a grasp on it.

Set yourself apart in a competitive industry

The distilling process is complex. From still design to day-to-day operations, this fast-moving industry keeps you on your toes. But, you can find your way and thrive. Get advice from Gian by scheduling a call today.