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The famous winery is located in the commune of Pessac (suburb of Bordeaux) in the Pessac-Léognan area of Graves (Bordeaux). Its origins go back to Arnaud I Pontac, who made a fortune from 1496 as an exporter of wine and vines from Bordeaux. His son Jean de Pontac (1488-1589) built the north wing of the château in 1550. In 1525 he married Jeanne de Bellon, who brought part of the Haut-Brion vineyard into the marriage as a dowry. His only sister Marie married an Arnaud de Lestonnac, who founded the neighbouring Château La Mission Haut-Brion in 1540. Fifteen children were born of Jean Pontac's three marriages (the last of which he entered into at the age of 76). In the next two Pontac generations, there is nothing worth mentioning in terms of viticulture. It was through Arnaud III de Pontac (1599-1682) that the wines of Haut-Brion began to be known in England. He recognised the importance of the English market and is considered the founder of château wines because he was the first to market a wine in Bordeaux under the name of the estate as "Haut-Brion".

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