When I was presented with an opportunity to visit Promontory during a California road trip with All Roads North and driving the new BMW M8, I quickly rearranged my calendar to discover this famous winery.
Promontory’s history is as unique as its rock-star creds. The most recent addition to the Harlan family’s portfolio (which includes Meadowood, The Napa Valley Reserve, Harlan Estate, and BOND), Promontory is nestled in the western hills of Oakville. Story has it that when legendary winemaker Bill Harlan discovered this enchanting land on a hike in 1984, he not only envisioned a new winemaking venture, but discovered a blueprint for generational impact. After concepting his own label (the Mascot), Bill’s son, Will Harlan, took the Promontory reins, leveraging his father’s experience while forging his own signature style. Here’s what’s not to miss:
Unique to any Napa Valley wine experience, expect a secluded canyon with two distinct fault lines that span volcanic, sedimentary, and metamorphic soils. Promontory’s unique geology and terrain cover 500 feet of elevation, with dramatic slopes and 360-degree views. What’s more, only 10 percent of the beautiful estate is under vine, which means a rugged personality remains. Walking the property feels like a step back in time, a reminder of why the Harlan family remains enchanted with this area.
The anchor to Promontory’s outstanding wines is the aforementioned land. As such, the winery’s acclaimed vintages beautifully deliver a celebration of terroir. The Promontory team has gone to great lengths to bottle the essence of the soil, which culminates in the forests, the moisture of the fog, and the minerality of the unique geology. Our private tasting started with a 2018 vintage (from the cask), which won’t be released until fall 2023. We then sipped the 2009 Promontory—the first commercial vintage—followed by the 2014 Promontory. All are magnificent: rich and robust, they exhibit a complexity and restraint that provide a unique differentiation and celebrate the vineyard’s rugged and natural landscape.
One of my favorite aspects of Promontory is the architecture by famous Napa architect Howard Backen. An industrial feel juxtaposes the beauty of the land, as concrete, steel, and glass are employed at nearly every vantage point. During our private visit (a typical tour and tasting fee is $200 per person) we discovered the modern fermentation hall and beautifully lit cellars, where the blended wine is aged in Austrian Stockinger Oak casks for another five years.
Exclusive Resorts Members interested in visiting Promontory during their wine country getaway can reach out to the dedicated on-site Concierge, who can arrange it directly with the winery.