Covert Estate is the result of the collaboration and hard work of three families dedicated to the craft of winemaking.
Cal and Pam Nicholson, library wine collectors and Vintners in Napa Valley; Dave and Laura Nestor, obsessive and extensive California wine collectors, equine hunters/jumpers and management gurus; and Julien Fayard, French winemaker, and Californian wine lovers with a legacy of making wine in both France and Napa Valley using traditional techniques to create wine filled with finesse and a sense of place.
The Estate is located in Napa Valley on the eastern hills of the Vacas Mountain Range in the Coombsville Appellation. The winery sits underground between the vineyard and the oak grove, and can only be seen from a bird’s-eye view. Out of respect for the environment, we are committed to making a minimal footprint on the land. Dedicated, extraordinary and unexpected – that is Covert Estate.
Our winemaking starts in the vineyard. We view the winery as a tool for capturing in the bottle what the vineyard provides for us. Using traditional Bordeaux winemaking techniques adapted to the site, there is a balance of both French and California winemaking culture. The winemaking for the Grand Cru’s of Bordeaux has been established by many generations of winemakers. Julien Fayard carries that philosophy, experience and tradition with him into the cellar to capture the best of what the fruit has to offer. The more intimately we stay connected to the vineyard, the less we manipulate the wine.
Covert Estate sits on a gentle, southeast-facing slope in the heart of Coombsville, Napa Valley. Mostly comprised of solid volcanic ash from Mt. George, the topsoil is barely existent and the sub-soil contains cobblestone strewn layers of rich loams between the volcanic rocks. These particular layers drain easily and the ash sub-soils hold water, which the vines can access as the dry growing season progresses.
Due to its proximity to San Pablo Bay, a cool layer of fog covers the vineyards. Daily temperatures can be as much as ten degrees cooler during the hot months, creating an ideal growing climate. The vines bud early and the grapes tend to be harvested later, making for a long and slow ripening period. All of this leads to incredible structure, complexity and balance of the wine.
The team is made up of individuals who have made a life-long commitment to Napa Valley and its grapes. Covert Estate works to continuously develop and enhance the legacy of world-class vineyards through sustainable practices in our farming. Paying close attention to each plant, vine and the changes needed from vintage to vintage, we allow the grapes to create a final product that reflects the land at its best.
We have a steadfast commitment to reducing our footprint. From the design, out of respect for our neighbors that lived here for generations, our facility is integrated into the hillside to reduce the noise, pollution and visual impact. In the vineyard, we aim to minimize water usage and keep our crops free of chemicals, keeping our underground water strong and free of pollutants. Our state-of-the-art facility has been classified Napa Green, a comprehensive environmental certification program for vineyards and wineries, for our efforts to reduce waste, water and energy usage.