The Napa Valley Reserve is Napa Valley’s premiere private wine estate – a luxurious setting in rural surroundings nestled against the lower hills of the Vaca mountains. This members club is located in the heart of the Napa Valley only about a 5 minute drive from the nearby town of St. Helena. Founder and vintner William Harlan initially began acquiring this property in the early 1980s – originally a cattle ranch and later a farm, Mr. Harlan is only the 3rd owner of the property since California became a state in 1850. He completed the purchase of this historic site in 2000, (his private residence used to be here) and in the subsequent two years cleared parts of the land and planted vineyards. The property is 80 acres which when fully planted, contain 60 acres of grapes. Over 700 olive trees (multiple cultivars) are planted on site and olive oil is also produced for members. The trees were originally planted by the Talcotts, Nina and Jim – both of whom own Napa Valley based olive oil companies. The property spans both sides of the Silverado Trail from the boundary of Meadowood Napa Valley (a gorgeous Relais & Châteaux property) along Meadowood Lane to Old Howell Mountain Road and on the west side of the Silverado Trail. However, the majority of the vineyards are located on the eastern side of Silverado Trail. Designed by Howard Backen of Backen & Gillam Architects, Backen’s firm has overseen the construction of a number of premium wineries in the Napa Valley including Harlan Estate, BOND and Futo Estate among others – as well as Poetry Inn, Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute in Utah and other prominent international properties. The property features a timeless elegance – from the exterior, visually blending in with its surroundings and from the interior featuring a wine country rustic charm and a number of tranquil spaces. An interesting historical footnote: what is now Alejandro Bulgheroni Winery (on nearby Meadowood Lane) housed the production of several of the first Napa Valley Reserve wines – as well as some of the early trial wines for PROMONTORY, another Bill Harlan owned winery. Out of the more than 1,000 unique Napa Valley based wineries, brands or tasting rooms we have visited and written about to date, we are always acutely focused on identifying some of the valley’s most memorable properties. Somewhat loosely formulaic in our approach, first and foremost we always look at the vineyard site. Other attributes include history, overall pedigree of the property, personalities, architecture, wine accolades, creativity and a refined thread of exclusivity. While not a commercially producing winery, The Napa Valley Reserve ticks off all of our desired check boxes and offers guests a direct connection to the Harlan lifestyle and this land. Because the wines are produced for members, none of The Napa Valley Reserve wines are for sale nor are the individual member wines. This makes owning wines from a special piece of the Napa Valley that much more special. At this heightened level of attention in both the vineyard and the winery, the wine becomes like a living piece of fine art – to be collected and enjoyed for what it is, but also to be highly appreciated for the significant work and creativity that went into its journey from vineyard to bottle. And to be cherished for its pedigree – not only for the unique vineyard site but equally as important for the wine making efforts of its creators. And the team overseeing the operations is impressive including Bob Levy, Director of Wine Growing to winemaker Marco Gressi and consulting winemaker Michel Rolland who provides his input into the wines once a year and vineyard managers Mary Maher and Mark Griffin. The winemaking team is always striving for incremental improvements in quality – beginning in the vineyard but in the cellar as well. Recent acquisitions include locally made concrete fermentation tanks, 40-hectaliter casks for aging the wines further and using amphorae for select aging.