Promontory: Capturing Napa’s Wild Beauty

Retail Team | March 7, 2024

Bill Harlan, founder of Napa powerhouses Harlan and BOND, was hiking through the ridges of southwestern Oakville in the 1980s when he made a breathtaking discovery. Peering down into steep slopes and small valleys, the wildness and beauty of the site below his boots left him so mesmerized that he went on to try to buy the land, but was rebuffed.

But Harlan is a patient man, known to follow a “200-year” plan inspired by the great multi-generational estates of Europe. By 2008, the property was his, and it became the cornerstone of the Promontory label, which has “ascended into the stratosphere in a very brief time,” says Vinous.

The winery, overseen by Bill’s son Will and director Cory Empting, produces a single red, predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon blended with other varieties including Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Sotheby’s Wine is thrilled to share four extraordinary Promontory vintages that showcase Napa Cabernet from one of the appellation’s most pristine and isolated corners.

The roughly 840-acre property is mostly wild, with around 10% of the land under vine. Steep, rugged slopes and open exposures define the topography, while the soils are a rare mix of volcanic, metamorphic, and sedimentary types. Vines are dry-farmed and tended by hand. The result is a wine of powerful concentration, deep minerality, and broad mountain tannins that lend Promontory wines their robust structure.

The 2013 reaches new heights of density and intensity, promising decades of aging potential while the 2015 is full-bodied and polished. Produced from a sensational vintage in Napa, the 2016 has pulled down a trio of 100-point scores, garnering comparisons to the grandeur of Bordeaux First Growths. The 2017, among the best releases of the vintage, is all muscle and balance, showing profound accents of crushed rock.

With production highly allocated, this is a golden opportunity to sample the fruits of an amazing Napa dynasty.