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Screaming Eagle

Region: California

Screaming Eagle is a small Napa Valley winery that was started in 1986 when Napa realtor Jean Phillips began amassing parcels of land in Oakville, California. In the early years, the new vineyard was planted with a mix of grape varieties that Phillips sold to other local wineries, and in 1992 the vineyard yielded its first official harvest of choice Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Thus the 1992 vintage Cab, birthed through the artistry of Screaming Eagle's first winemaker, Heidi Barrett, became the winery's debut wine.

To the sheer delight of wine aficionados everywhere, the winery's first vintage, released in 1995, was celebrated as one of the finest California-produced Cabs and soon took its place among the most sought-after collector wines, earning the winery a well-deserved cult status among California vintners.

In 2006, Jean Phillips sold Screaming Eagle Winery to Charles Banks and Stan Kroenke, who remained in partnership until 2009, when Banks left and Kroenke took over sole ownership. That same year, the vineyards were planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Sauvignon Blanc, in preparation for expanding the winery's production capabilities.

The price of Screaming Eagle wines has risen steadily since its earliest vintages were originally sold for $75 a bottle. Yet, as prices rose, the wines continued to grow in popularity, with some collector vintages currently being sold on the aftermarket for multiple thousands of dollars.

Screaming Eagle wines are definitely among the most exclusive California wines, with sales made only to those who are fortunate enough to enjoy the privilege of gracing the celebrated vintner's mailing list.

The most celebrated vintages from this wine producer are, of course, the hard-to-find 1992 Cabernet Sauvignon, which received a rating of 99 from the Wine Advocate. Also rated 99 by Wine Advocate is the winery's 2002 vintage Cab, with its 2003 Cab rated at 98. Other vintage Cabs that are commanding extremely high prices include 1997, 2001 and 2006.

Screaming Eagle is a winery that has seen runaway success with its limited production runs of fine quality wines. This is one producer that has seen no decrease in the popularity of its vintages with the incremental – and often audacious – price increases its owners have implemented. If anything, these increases have made wine collectors even more vociferous in seeking out these celebrated vintages.


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