Screaming Eagle is the original California cult wine. The winery is located in Oakville, California, north of the town of Napa in the Napa Valley. The Cabernet Sauvignon based wine sells for upwards of $3,000/bottle and is America's most expensive wine. Wines are sold through a mailing list, which has been full since 2000.
Jean Phillips, a former real estate agent, established the vineyards in 1986. He sold his fruit to various wineries until deciding to build his own winery. The first vintage of Screaming Eagle was released in 1992. Robert Parker, the famed wine critic, gave it 99 points, and 100 points in 1997, 2007, 2010, and 2012.
In 2006 the estate was sold to billionaire Stan Kroenke and Charles Banks for an undisclosed sum, rumored to be upwards of $30 million. Three years later Charles Banks left Screaming Eagle leaving Stan Kroenke as the sole proprietor.
The vineyard is planted mainly to Cabernet Sauvignon with some Merlot and Cabernet France, along with a small plot of Sauvignon Blanc. Screaming Eagle's second wine, Second Flight, was introduced in 2012 and is now called The Flight. They also produce a Sauvignon Blanc which can sell for more than their Cabernet Sauvignon on the secondary market.
An Imperial bottle (6 liters) of 1992 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon sold for $500,000 at Auction Napa Valley in 2000.
With only 57 acres of vineyards and an annual production of around 500 cases, Screaming Eagle is hard to find and extremely pricey.
As you would imagine, there is great incentive to counterfeit these wines. Therefore, since the 2010 vintage, all bottles have a "bubble-coded" verification system, which is a label placed between the foil and the bottle that creates a security seal that cannot be detached without it and the foil being damaged. Below the seal are unique identification codes that can be verified on the Screaming Eagle website.
Stan Kroenke has amassed a multi-billion dollar fortune through a real estate company and is married to a Walmart heiress. He also owns the Los Angeles Rams, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rapids, and Arsenal Football Club.
At just 26 years old, fresh out of UC Davis, Nick Gislason joined Screaming Eagle in 2010. He assisted winemaker Andy Erickson, a superstar whose other employers include Harlan and Mayacamas. Nick took over in 2011 as sole winemaker, when Andy stepped down.