When Shark Tank guest shark Emma Grede — the co-founder of Kim Kardashian’s Skims and Khloé Kardashian’s Good American brands — celebrated her 40th birthday in October, she chose to do it at Promontory winery in Napa Valley. Kim Kardashian, Kris Jenner and designer Peter Dundas were among the guests at the lavish festivities, which were catered by Mother Wolf and Felix chef Evan Funke.
Founded in 2008, Promontory is one of the hottest California wine labels among stars and industry players. Part of the illustrious Harlan family portfolio (alongside Harlan Estate, BOND and The Mascot), it’s revered for its 100 percent cabernet sauvignon wines, priced between $700 and $900 (depending on the vintage). LeBron James is a fan, as is WME partner John Marx.
“I have been growing my wine cellar for the past several decades and discovered Promontory during a trip to Napa Valley with my wife, which was one of the most enchanting and rich experiences to date,” says Marx. “The wine evokes a very unique mystique and elegant allure.”
The story of Promontory’s founder, winemaking trailblazer Bill Harlan, is inscribed into the fabric of Napa. After a booming career in real estate development, Harlan kicked off his winemaking dynasty in 1980 with the objective of establishing one of the world’s most exceptional Bordeaux-style wines.
More than 40 years and four globally revered wine properties later, Harlan’s multigenerational legacy is firmly in place, with his scions at the helm of the family’s domain while he serves as chairman — a real-life Succession, albeit with heaps of reverence, devotion and honor.
Daughter Amanda Harlan Maltas is a co-owner and oversees communications for a number of other family holdings (including The Napa Valley Reserve, a private wine club, and Meadowood Resort in St. Helena), and son Will Harlan serves as managing director of the winegrowing properties. “We are continuing to learn and will add our insights to that legacy as we prepare for the third generation of leadership,” Will tells THR.
While Will’s formal entrée to winemaking was The Mascot — “the side project” label he created with a blend of young vines from their vineyards — Promontory is what drew him into the family business. According to Will, Promontory is situated on the only island of metamorphic rock under vine in the Napa Valley. And this trove of soils across an array of dramatic slopes studded with warm western exposure and cool morning air results in winemaking gold. “Tasting the wine for the first time was emotionally moving,” says Emily Buse, wine director at Catch Steak New York. “When sharing Promontory with our guests, I still get a shiver.”
Promontory produces only about 3,000 cases per year, and there is a two-year wait list for allocations. Fortunately, tastings are available at its soaring glass, concrete and steel Howard Backen-designed compound by reservation and a $250 per person fee, with bookings two to three months out.
“From the start, we felt that Promontory held great potential,” adds Will. “The journey forward is to deepen our understanding of this place as we strive toward translating its intrinsic character into the medium of wine. We believe that the wine from this singular place will deserve to be considered among the fine wines of the world; but to truly understand the land takes generations. We have only begun that journey. We have accomplished a great deal up to this point, but we have a long path ahead of us, and we are excited about discovering where it will lead us next.”
This story first appeared in the Dec. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.