Harlan Estate’s first commercial vintage was the 1990, which was released in 1996 with a then-expensive price tag of $65 a bottle. Since then, the estate has cemented itself as a cult wine producer, with five vintages achieving 100-point scores from Robert Parker. As a result, prices have risen exponentially, and the 1990 vintage has an average price of $1,320. In addition to the flagship red, Harlan Estate also makes a second wine, The Maiden.
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Harlan Estate is one of Napa’s most prominent wine producers, self-styled as a Napa “first growth”. The vineyard is located in the Oakville AVA, in the hills above Martha’s Vineyard (Heitz Cellar) and To Kalon (Robert Mondavi), just north of Napa town itself. Its Cabernet Sauvignon-based flagship wine is one of California’s most sought-after wines, regularly commanding prices exceeding $1000 per bottle.
The estate was founded in 1984 by property developer William Harlan, who had cut his teeth at the Merryvale winery and Meadowood lodge before buying 240 acres (97 hectares) of land in the Oakville hills. Some 40 acres (16ha) of this was cleared for vineyards – mostly planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, but with some Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.