Pechanga Resort Casino Ups the Ante on Beverages with Additions of New Sommelier and Mixologist

Pechanga Resort Casino welcomes two new faces with more than 30 years of experience in beverage excellence into its acclaimed beverage division. Enterprise Sommelier Zachary Abeyta, and Mixologist Nicholas Dukes joined the team in late 2023. Each possessing more than 15 years in their respective fields, the pair already is already shaking things up when it comes to drink choices at Pechanga.

Zachary Abeyta is a seasoned sommelier who has held the role of sommelier and director of wines at prestigious restaurants throughout Los Angeles. Originally from Colorado, Zachary graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and added a minor in theater (is the school notable?). With his sights set on becoming an actor, he moved to Los Angeles immediately after graduating. As many thespians starting out do, he took a server job at a classic Italian eatery.  As the upscale clientele continued to order new and different wines, Abeyta found himself learning more about the beverage industry and developing a passion for it, especially for Italian wines.

Abeyta continued learning and worked his way up to becoming a sommelier. This led him to an opportunity he had to take – opening his own restaurant with a close friend and mentor. Among the many responsibilities of being a restauranteur, he took the lead of setting up the wine list and continued to act as the sommelier for his restaurant’s guests.

After several years as a sommelier, Abeyta took his expertise to serve as Director of Wines at notable restaurants throughout Los Angeles and at fine dining establishments on Catalina Island.


Nicholas Dukes and Zachary Abeyta (left to right) join Pechanga Resort Casino as Mixologist and Enterprise Sommelier.

Abeyta leapt at the chance to lead Pechanga Resort Casino’s wine program, and to bring the Great Oak Steakhouse’s award-winning wine list to new heights. Ready to show his expertise in wine and hospitality, Ab

eyta is excited to impart his wine expertise to develop budding oenophiles in both guests and Team Members alike.


Outside of work, Abeyta loves to travel around the United States with his wife. Though he doesn’t think it’s fair to pick favorites, his go-to glass is Brunello di Montalcino.

Nicholas Dukes is a trained expert in craft beer, wine, and spirits. From humble beginnings as a bartender, Nicholas worked his way up into gastropubs just as the insatiable craft beer boom of the 2000s began taking shape. While bartending, Nicholas became fascinated with the origins of beverages and how they helped shape civilizations.

His curiosity for all things beverage continued to allow him to leap frog into roles with more responsibility where a greater knowledge base of wines, beers and liquors were necessary. He worked as a bar manager for several years when he was asked to join another Southern California casino’s food and beverage department.

He credits his time there with providing the opportunity to study and obtain his Cicerone certificate, as well as learning from accomplished spirits and wine experts.

When the chance to work with Pechanga Resort Casino and to move to Temecula availed itself, Dukes did not hesitate. Eager to show his passion for hospitality, customer service and building relationships, he also looks forward to sharing his expertise with Team Members and cultivating the next crop of bartenders, beverage managers and potentially sommeliers and mixologists.

He created the Great Oak Steakhouse’s craft cocktail menu filled with 15 inventive libations. He looks forward to branding many other beverage offerings with signature Pechanga highlights.

When not at work, Nicholas spends time on home projects, plays golf and tennis.