Screaming Eagle is California’s original cult wine. Produced in tiny quantities from a small vineyard in Napa’s Oakville appellation, the Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine regularly sells for upwards of $3000 a bottle and is America’s most expensive regularly produced wine.
Jean Phillips established the vineyards in 1986, and set about selling fruit to local producers in Napa. After a few years, the decision was made to set up a winery, and the first vintage of Screaming Eagle was released in 1992. Robert Parker rated this first vintage at 99 points, and cult status was sealed – since then, the 1997 and 2007 vintages have achieved the coveted 100-point rating from the famous wine critic. Sales are done from the winery through a mailing list, which has been full since 2000 – and there is a waiting list several thousand names long.
Screaming Eagle’s vineyard lies within the Oakville AVA in the southern part of Napa Valley. It is planted mainly to Cabernet Sauvignon with some Merlot and Cabernet Franc, and a small plot of Sauvignon Blanc. Screaming Eagle’s second wine, Second Flight, is made from the vineyard’s younger vines, and a white wine, the Screaming Eagle Sauvignon Blanc, was introduced in 2012. Although sold initially for $250 a bottle in 2012, this wine quickly reached astronomical prices on the secondary market as well, up to 10 times the release price.
In 2006, Screaming Eagle was famously sold to Stanley Kroenke and Charles Banks for an undisclosed sum, rumored to be upwards of $30 million. Nowadays Kroenke owns Screaming Eagle outright.