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The famous vineyard is located in the municipality 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 a 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. From the three marriages of Jean Pontac (the last he entered into at the age of 76) fifteen children were born. The next two Pontac generations have nothing worth mentioning regarding viticulture. Through Arnaud III de Pontac (1599-1682), the wines of Haut-Brion began to be known in England. He recognized the importance of the English market and is considered the founder of the Château wines, because he was the first in Bordeaux to market a wine under the name of the winery as "Haut-Brion".

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