Nestled in the hills above Oakville, the Harlan estate encompasses 40 planted acres spread across 160 overall acres of land. Since Harlan’s inception these wines were destined to become some of the greatest wines of California and possibly the world. Dedication to quality and incredible attention to detail defined the Harlan mission from the start. From selection of heritage Cabernet Sauvignon cuttings to laborious terracing for the early plantings, nothing was spared in order to produce world class Bordeaux-style red blends.
The Harlan estate and vineyard lays perched above such eponymous names as Martha’s Vineyard and Beckstoffer To-Kalon, sharing many of the climatic characteristics with some of the greatest vineyards of Napa Valley. Where Harlan is unique is in its advantageous location in the hills. High elevation leads to overall cooler temperatures than on the valley floor, but also greater diurnal swings between daytime and nighttime temperatures, encouraging ripening while preserving acid. The hillslopes also provide huge variation in soil type, incline, and aspect leading to incredible complexity in the grapes themselves. While only 40 acres in total, Harlan manages to produce a complex wine that is still expresses the singularity of place exactly because of the variation across such a relatively small area.
Along with its prime location in Oakville, Harlan has an exceptionally talented team that has changed little over the decades. This has allowed the winemaking and vineyard teams to grow with the vineyard, understanding the intricacies every site and season holds. Former winemaker (and now consultant) Bob Levy has given way to current winemaker Cory Empting, who crafts wines that have proven to age incredibly well. The wine itself embodies the paradox inherent to the greatest Cabernet-based wines in the world — power with levity, richness that is simultaneously fresh, and wanton hedonism that somehow slips into grace, not to mention layer upon layer of complexity.