Screaming Eagle: The Development of a Cult Wine Specialist

Over the years, California’s Screaming Eagle wine has evolved into a highly sought after brand. In order to explain why people move heaven and earth to buy Screaming Eagle wine, which Ideal Wine Company supplies, we reveal how it has become a cult wine specialist.

Superior product

Based in Oakville, California, Screaming Eagle Winery and Vineyards devotes itself exclusively to producing limited amounts of varietal wines. Grapes cultivated in the vineyards of Screaming Eagle include a range of robust reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Screaming Eagle also produces a small amount of Sauvignon Blanc.

Over the years, Screaming Eagle wines have become known for their superiority, which Wine Access attributes to its “terroir.” Wine Access continues: “Rocky soil makes for excellent drainage and west facing slopes shower the grapes in sunshine. Couple this with warm daytime temperatures that allow the Cabernet to fully ripen, and cooling night breezes from [nearby] San Pablo Bay, and what you get are deep, complex wines with layers of fruit and a backbone that will allow aging for 10 to 20 years.”

Evolution of Screaming Eagle

Like many California-based wineries, Screaming Eagle doesn’t have hundreds of years of history to its name. Its first vintage was released in 1996, but the story of how Screaming Eagle came to be actually starts ten years earlier. In 1986, former real estate agent Jean Phillips bought a 57 acre vineyard in Oakland. She harvested, and then sold, the majority of the vineyard to local producers.

Jean kept just one acre to herself, where she planted 80 Cabernet Sauvignon vines. Phillips’ goal was to make money selling the wine she made, in order to pay off her considerable debts. She asked neighbouring wine industry players whether they thought her product would sell. They expressed the belief it would and Screaming Eagle produced its first commercial vintage in 1992.

Becoming a cult specialist

The 1992 vintage hit the market in 1996; a pivotal year in the history of Screaming Eagle. Famously, this is  the year that leading American wine critic Robert Parker awarded Screaming Eagle’s first ever vintage with a rare 99 points out of 100 points. It is almost unheard of for a winery’s first vintage to receive such a reaction, so Parker’s endorsement shot Screaming Eagle straight into the stratosphere!

As Screaming Eagle vaulted up into the heavens, a cult was born. The winery’s profile grew, allowing it to develop a brand which is highly associated with exclusivity. These days it can be extremely hard to get your hands on a bottle of Screaming Eagle. At most, The California winery only produces 9,000 bottles a year; the limited supply of Screaming Eagle is why many now consider it a cult wine.

Buy Screaming Eagle

You have to either sign up to a (very long) mailing list or go to one of a very few authorised retailers to find the latest Screaming Eagles. However, you can secure older vintages from specialist fine wine providers such as Ideal Wine Company. You can buy the Screaming Eagle 1993 from our online store, in order to sample this cult winery’s world-famous product.


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