H. William Harlan
Don Weaver
Harlan Estate in the Napa Valley was founded by H. William Harlan. A powerful wine that embodies the distinctive character of great wines from the Napa Valley, the Harlan Estate red has become a cult wine that easily wears the crown of first growth status in California.

Bill Harlan first came to Napa while a student at Berkeley. He was soon dreaming of owning a vineyard. He began the search for land in Napa Valley in 1972, and made repeated visits to vineyards in Europe to try to understand what conditions yielded the world’s finer wines. In 1980, Robert Mondavi was thinking of establishing the first Napa Valley Wine Auction. He arranged visits to the first growths of Bordeaux and many of the grands crus of Burgundy – “a transformative experience” as Bill calls it. The trip sparked Bill’s ambition to create, if possible, a Napa first growth. After gaining wine producing experience at Merryvale Vineyards, he bought land in the 1980s and created an estate and a vineyard on hillsides in the Oakville district of the Napa Valley. After a few vintages - the estate made wine in 1987, 1988, and 1989, none of which went to market, because the quality they had hoped for hadn’t yet appeared - the first released vintage was 1990.

To create the Harlan Estate vineyard, the wooded and rocky land had to be cleared and vines planted at a record density for hillside vineyards. Oakville is in the heart of the Napa Valley and has soils superbly suited to the Bordeaux grape varieties. This district has the benefit of the cool evenings and early morning fogs that move in from the Pacific Ocean. Gravelly soils are exceptionally well-drained. Harlan’s wine estate covers about 100 hectares. Only 15% of it, about 17 hectares, is covered in impeccably-tended vines, entirely planted on the hillsides with the best exposure for grape-ripening.
The classic red Bordeaux grape varieties are cultivated here: Cabernet Sauvignon (70%), Merlot (20%), Cabernet Franc (8%), and Petit Verdot (2%).

"These wines possess all the elements of greatness - individuality, power combined with elegance, extraordinary complexity, remarkable aging potential, and compelling richness without ponderousness." - Robert Parker

"If we can enrich people's lives, and just maybe inspire them to do something beyond what they might otherwise have done, that brings us great satisfaction. Our purpose is to help our patrons to have an even more enjoyable and healthy life." - H. William Harlan