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With the founding of Harlan Estate in 1984, we embarked upon our mission of creating a “first growth” of California. The estate’s early vineyard development began with just six acres. Today our planting is essentially complete, with nearly forty acres under vine to the classic varietals: cabernet sauvignon (70%), merlot (20%), cabernet franc (8%), and petit verdot (2%). Invariably, the finished wine is predominately cabernet sauvignon, which we blend with varying amounts of the other three varietals as we seek to express faithfully the unique and distinctive character of the site.
Modest quantities of wine were produced in 1987, 1988, and 1989 from grapes that represented the second, third, and fourth leaf of our estate vineyard. In each of those years a small number of barrels were produced in the hope of gaining a prescient glimpse into what the character of the land—never before cultivated—might have to offer. The wines were blended, bottled, and labeled with a special designation. Though charming in their own way, these first wines fell short of our standards and aspirations, so were never released. They continue to serve as humble reminders of where we began the journey.
“There was a clear dividing line between what we could use and what we couldn’t,” Director Don Weaver commented about Harlan Estate’s 2017 harvest. “The way the community came together was the defining moment for us. In terms of selection, we erred on the highest quality side. The good news is that we had a lot to choose from!” Indeed, Harlan Estate’s no-compromise stance has held them in good stead in 2017. Qualitatively, assuming this barrel sample is an accurate reflection of the final wine (and I have no reason to believe it isn’t), these guys didn’t miss a beat. This said, the 2017 The Maiden is still a work in progress and so wasn’t shown to me at this time.