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.
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.
Less than ten percent of the land is under vine, weaving an intricate patchwork among the wild expanse of forest and woodlands. This natural landscape, along with the warmth of the rock-studded western exposure, invites morning fog and slightly cooler air to fill its narrow canyon on an almost daily basis.
The enviable — if sometimes daunting — task of unearthing and translating the essential qualities of this majestic formation has given us a deeply visceral connection to the place. The land is speaking at last, awakening a long-dormant story of this uncharted territory.
Wines from hillsides of Promontory reflect the many aspects of the territory: the native forests, the moisture of the ephemeral fog, and the minerality of the geologic underpinnings. These disparate facets in symphony provide a natural balance of freshness, energy, and tannin. We believe these traits, in wine, are the building blocks of great vitality and long life.