Meet the Independent Winemakers Creating Some of the World’s Best Wines in Napa
By Sara Schneider for ROBBREPORT.COM
They’re amplifying the inherent diversity of the West Coast’s best wine regions.
Julien Fayard, who, like Melka, is French-born, spent seven years under Melka’s tutelage before becoming a partner in Coombsville’s Covert Estate. The 42-year-old was still with Atelier Melka, in fact, when he established his own consultancy, in 2007, which he continues to run and now has 12 clients in addition to his own three brands. He describes what it’s like to “graduate” from Atelier Melka: “To work for Philippe, you have to know what you’re doing if you want to last. But the work, and the team, created this intricate symphony that I enjoyed.” His most important takeaway from Melka? “Non-interventionist winemaking,” he says. “The vineyard drives the difference.”
Fayard has established a team of his own now, based on the same close relationships with winery owners that enable Melka to create wines of singular character. If anything, he’s even more locked in with his clients on a business level, insisting on good financials and a clear brand-building vision. His model is to get in on the ground floor and help each company grow into a healthy, sustainable business—one that happens to make terrific wine.