How Screaming Eagle Became One of the Globe’s Most Coveted Wines

Jean Phillips was a successful real estate professional in the Napa Valley. [1] He helped many people sell wineries and knew everything about the real estate. In 1986, he started accumulating land and sold his grapes to local wineries. Robert Mondavi advised him to start his own winery.

Phillips took that wise advice and hired Heidi Barett as the winemaker for his new winery, Screaming Eagle. He ripped out most of the vines on his land and planted new ones, allowing him to terminate some of his contractual agreements with other wineries to supply them with grapes.

When did Screaming Eagle enter the wine industry?

Screaming Eagle entered the wine industry with the unveiling of its 1992 vintage. Some of the harvest was aged in select barrels, which were commemoratively engraved. Indeed, those same barrels are still used in their winemaking today as part of a unique tradition.

In 2006, Phillips sold the winery for 70 million USD to Charles Banks and Stanley Kroenke, and its operations took on new management: Andy Erickson and David Abreu. In April 2009, Charles parted ways with Stanley and Screaming Eagle after they dissolved their partnership.

One of the costliest wines in California

Screaming Eagles wines are highly-priced and highly prized. The price per bottle started as 75 USD, but bottles quickly started to sell for 125 USD — making it one of the costliest wines in California.

After the sale of the winery, the cost per bottle was 300 USD direct from the winery, whereas resellers often sold the same bottles for as much as 1500 USD. Interestingly, as prices increased, so has demand. The 1992 vintage is currently listed at 7,000 USD a bottle. The winery is closed to the public and does not offer tours or tastings. In short, scarcity and exclusivity continue to foster skyrocketing prices. [2]

A number of celebrities have documented their enjoyment of Screaming Eagle wines on social media. For example, David and Victoria Beckham posted a photo of an empty bottle of the expensive wine on Snapchat.

Screaming Eagle

Many copycats have tried to imitate the prestigious wines, and Screaming Eagle has adopted a robust anti-counterfeit strategy that includes a code number under the security seal that allows buyers to confirm the authenticity of their purchase on their website.

Want to know more about wines like this? Try reading these books!

Wine Grapes: A complete guide to 1,368 vine varieties, including their origins and flavors

The California Directory of Fine Wineries: Napa Valley, Sonoma County

References:

[1] 2022. [online] Available at: <https://www.bbr.com/producer-2029-screaming-eagle> [Accessed 3 July 2022]. [2]  Leve, J., 2022. Screaming Eagle California Wine Cabernet Sauvignon Sauvignon Blanc. [online] The Wine Cellar Insider. Available at: <https://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/california-wine/screaming-eagle-california-wine-cabernet-sauvignon/> [Accessed 3 July 2022].

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