Part-time residents of Naples behind 2 Napa-based wine brands


Secret partners Elan and Julien Fayard, part-time Neapolitans Cal and Pam Nicholson, and Dave and Laura Nestor

“Naples has everything you can ask for,” says Nicholson. “Better weather than California, of course, proximity to water and nice people. We love it even here in the summer.

The Nicholsons own two brands of wine: Napa’s Nicholson jones, founded in 2003, and a new estate in Coombsville called Secret. Both are small production properties (1,200 and 700 cases respectively) and are under the supervision of winemaker Julien Fayard, trained at Château Lafite Rothschild and Smith Haut Lafitte in Bordeaux and protected from Napa superstar Philippe Melka. While there are differences in approach between the two wineries – Nicholson Jones buys fruit from leased vineyards, while Covert owns an estate vineyard producing Cabernet and Syrah – they share the terroir-driven Fayard style. .

“Julien is the glue that holds everything together,” says Nicholson. “He takes care of specific vineyards that cultivate to his specifications and work in an Old World tradition that reflects the character of each site.”

This style resonates with consumers. Nicholson Jones wines are featured in restaurants in Naples such as The Continental, Bleu Provence, Sea Salt and Fleming’s, as well as in a selection of retailers. A barrel of Covert Estate Cabernet Sauvignon was one of the top lots at the 2018 Napa Valley auction.

Nicholson has no plans to expand at this time. “At this level of production, the wine is personal,” he says. “It should be a fun adventure for our clients because it’s way too fun for us to do it.”


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