Julien Fayard is a native of Saint-Étienne, France. He grew up in the French Riviera and earned his masters in agribusiness and winemaking while in university.
After school, Julien worked in both Provence and Bordeaux where he defined his core winemaking style at Château Lafite-Rothschild (he even lived in Lafite’s grand château for a period), Smith Haut Lafitte and Chateau Sainte Marguerite (a Cru Classé winery located in the Cote d'Azur). At Château Lafite-Rothschild Julien managed the vineyard crew, experimented with canopy management and worked on red fermentations, malolactic fermentations and blending and barrel aging. At Smith Haut Lafitte, Fayard managed the vineyard team and at Chateau Sainte Marguerite he served as Assistant Winemaker for two years.
Julien’s wife Elan is a Bay Area native, and in 2006 the two decided to make Napa their home. Julien had spent much of 2003 working in Quintessa’s cellar, and upon returning to Napa quickly became Phillipe Melka’s right-hand man, spending five years as Director of Winemaking for Atelier Melka. During this time, Julien further developed his winemaking skills and his intimate understanding of the valley’s vineyards with Atelier Melka’s variety of clients including Lail Vineyards, Gemstone, Dalla Valle, and more.
In Napa, Julien says he learned his attention to detail and how to not excessively intervene in the winery. His philosophy is to produce wines that express pure, terroir-driven specificities and characteristics. He believes that as a winemaker, one doesn’t control the wine but rather wine style is the result of a combination of soil, climate and vineyard management. Wine style is a combined expression of the fruit, soil, vines and climate.
“As a winemaker, my job is to bring out the best qualities that the vines have provided. I don’t seek to make a style of wine but more so to make wine that sings of it’s place, it’s history and it’s uniqueness. That’s my goal as a winemaker, to make wines that are pure expressions of their environment and not mask it. Wines with an identity.”
Julien beautifully blends the legacy of French tradition with a touch of California style in his Azur Wines.