Bill Harlan Appoints His Son, Will, as Managing Director of Harlan Estate

After 40 years at the helm of one of Napa’s premier Cabernet estates, Harlan will step away from the day-to-day ops, but will stay on as chairman

Bill Harlan Appoints His Son, Will, as Managing Director of Harlan Estate
From left: Bill, Amanda, Will and Deborah Harlan (Olaf Beckmann)
Apr 9, 2021

One of Napa’s Valley’s most prominent vintners, Bill Harlan, is stepping away from Harlan Estate after 40 years. “I have often said that, when I reach the age of 80, the time will have come to turn over the leadership of our family winegrowing domain to the next generation,” Harlan wrote in a letter to Wine Spectator.

Harlan turns the reins over to his son Will, who will oversee Harlan Estate and Bond, as well as Promontory, at which he has held a leadership role since 2017. Will will also continue to oversee The Mascot, a brand he founded using grapes that didn't make the cut for the Harlan Estate Cabernet blend. “I am gratified to announce the transfer of the domain’s leadership to my son, Will, who became managing director of the family domain, effective 2021. I shall continue in the role of founder and chairman,” said Bill.

Founded in 1984, Harlan Estate, located in Oakville's western foothills, has helped redefine an elite class of cult Napa Cabernet—the 2016 vintage is priced at $1,600 per bottle. The 33 acres of estate vines are often regarded as first-growth quality. Bond, which specializes in single-vineyard bottlings from sites throughout Napa Valley, currently priced at $775 per bottle, also ranks among the most coveted wines in Napa, along with the $800 per bottle Promontory label, which is made from a vineyard adjacent to the Harlan property. "I think this piece of land is special. It has the potential to create a wine that is very different from the rest of Napa," said Will in 2015.

Bill said that he had spent the past 10 years closely collaborating with family and core members of the winery’s team to set a course for the next four decades. That includes his daughter Amanda, who joined several years ago to assist with public relations and marketing. "I truly believe in my dad's vision, and to be part of that is the greatest gift in my career," she said in 2015.

Cory Empting, winemaker for Harlan and Bond, was also promoted to managing director of winegrowing. “I am confident that Will and Cory’s leadership—in combination with the collective talent, conviction and imagination of the second-generation management team—will enable us to flourish well into the future as we pursue our abiding aim: to elevate the human spirit through the medium and mystery of wine,” said Bill.


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