“Naples has everything you could ask for,” says Nicholson. “Better weather than California, of course, proximity to the water, and friendly people. We even like it here in the summer.”
The Nicholsons own two wine brands: Napa’s Nicholson Jones, founded in 2003, and a new Coombsville estate called Covert. Both are small-production properties (1,200 and 700 cases, respectively) and are under the supervision of winemaker Julien Fayard, who trained at Château Lafite Rothschild and Smith Haut Lafitte in Bordeaux and is a protégé of 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 Fayard’s terroir-driven style.
“Julien is the glue that holds everything together,” Nicholson says. “He deals with specific vineyards that farm to his specifications and works in an Old World tradition that reflects the character of each site.”
That style is resonating with consumers. The Nicholson Jones wines are featured at Naples restaurants such as The Continental, Bleu Provence, Sea Salt, and Fleming’s, along with selected retailers. A barrel of the Covert Estate Cabernet Sauvignon was one of the top lots at Auction Napa Valley 2018.
Nicholson has no plans to expand at the moment. “At this level of production, wine is personal,” he says. “It should be a fun adventure for our customers since it’s way too much fun for us to make it.”