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In the early 1980s while hiking along Oakville’s southwestern ridge, H. William Harlan discovered an isolated territory. The hidden expanse—ancient and untamed—moved him deeply, but remained elusive until the Harlan family finally captured it in 2008. As the second generation explored and worked with the land, they began to make discoveries of their own. At the core of this wild terrain they found a powerful geologic convergence, which had shaped its steep, rugged topography, and created the conditions for an altogether exotic winegrowing environment. Over time they found that the dramatic landscape—just beyond the edge of the known—would slowly change them, and ultimately inspire a new endeavor: Promontory.


As we evolve through the seasons of our lives, there is always the “missing piece” that draws us onwards…maybe it’s the challenge of the next vintage, the next level of enrichment, a new discovery, or a greater meaning. And at a certain point we start to look past our lifetime, with the hope that the next generation might, in their own way, go beyond the dreams we initiated. When I first came upon the land that would become Promontory, its untamed ruggedness was a surprise — quite different from anything I had encountered in the Napa Valley. This wild place, overlooked for most of the 20th century, emanated a power and a mystery and an undefinable allure.

It wasn’t until the first decade of the 21st century that we had the good fortune of acquiring the unmarked territory. This was the beginning of a new era, a time of exploration and discovery led by the next generation.



The road to Promontory unfolds slowly. Its winding path begins in the benchlands of south-western Oakville alongside a small seasonal creek, then ascends gradually through a narrow ravine in the mountains. The air cools, ferns appear among rocky outcroppings, and moisture clings to moss hanging from surrounding trees. Almost forbiddingly, steep slopes rise up seven hundred feet on either side and slivers of light struggle to penetrate the dense forest canopy. A moment later reveals a meadow in the full glow of day, and the first glimpse of the territory’s rangelands stretching upward toward the sky. 


Promontory is truly a world apart from the Napa Valley that most people experience. Within this secluded canyon there are two distinct fault lines, roughly demarcating the boundaries between volcanic, sedimentary, and metamorphic soils. This diverse geology is stretched across 500 feet of elevation, on a multitude of dramatic slopes and panoramic exposures.

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