Napa Valley's Top Cult Wineries

One of the most common questions we're asked here at Merchant of Wine and WineLA is what our favorite CULT wineries are.  This list is constantly changing and evolving, and sometimes it can be hard to find the most current lists of CULT wineries.  These are the CULT wines of today per wine expert Ian Blackburn of wineLA.  WineLA has hosted over 50 unique CULT dinners and featured all of these producers in past and upcoming tastings.

Napa Valley's Top Cult Wineries

(even in a pandemic if you can manage to get your hands on these wines, consider yourself extremely lucky!)

Screaming Eagle | Oakville, CA
Screaming Eagle is perhaps the most notorious original CULT wine of them all. If you've managed to score a bottle of Screaming Eagle wine you know it's something insanely special.   It is produced in very small quantities of 500 to 850 cases per year (6,000 to 10,000 bottles), from a small vineyard in Napa's Oakville appellation. The is made primarily from Cabernet Sauvignon and sells upon release for upwards of $3000 a bottle.
Scarecrow | Napa Valley, CA
The scarecrow story begins in a patch of earth with a fabled past. The J.J. Cohn Estate, where Scarecrow grapes are born, borders what was once the legendary vineyard of Inglenook winemaker Gustave Niebaum, whose plantings blanketed more than 1,000 acres of the Napa Valley at the close of the 19th century.   One of Napa's oldest "Old Vine Cabernet" vineyards. The name Scarecrow leans on JJ Cohn as he was a Producer of the epic movie "Wizard of Oz" and where the story continues...
Harlan Estate | Oakville, CA

Harlan Estate has been described as "the ultimate cult winery", with its limited availability, prices and status akin to those of Screaming Eagle.  It's flagship Harlan Estate is one of the most sought-after Californian wines on the market.

Realm Cellars | Napa, CA

Making wine at the very highest level has always been at the core of Realm Cellars. Through “these blessed plots” – vineyards that they own and sites that they carefully curate – their aim is nothing less than to illuminate and reflect the pinnacle of Napa Valley winegrowing. Their vision for what Realm can be encompasses more than creating fine wine. Securing an enduring place in the history of Napa Valley is also the aspiration

Bryant | Saint Helena, CA

A true expression of the Pritchard Hill terroir, Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon was first released in 1992 and is culled solely from grapes grown on the estate’s 13-acre vineyard. This First Growth wine conveys the long winemaking history of the region, a confluence of climate and soil plus a team of experts committed to nurturing its creation. Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon possesses ethereal aromatics and pure minerality that give focus and energy. The complexity of the site yields unusually dynamic wines for a single varietal. The wines of the mid-90s inform the current, somewhat more restrained approach towards crafting wines that demonstrate structural elegance, balance with good acidity and plush tannins — all elements that make them very age-worthy.

BOND | Oakville, CA

Sourced from select hillside estates, the Cabernet Sauvignon wines of BOND vividly demonstrate the range of Napa Valley's finest terroirs. From the more than eighty vineyards we have worked with over the past quarter century, they have slowly and vigilantly selected five sites. BOND became their covenant and shared commitment to produce only the best expression of the land. By way of this valuable experience, they had the opportunity to identify select properties that they felt had the potential to define the ‘Grand Crus’ of Napa Valley. These small hillside Cabernet vineyards, ranging in size from 7 to 11 acres, became the basis for the wines of BOND.

Promontory | Oakville, CA

Wines from hillsides of Promontory reflect the many aspects of the territory: the native forests, the moisture of the ephemeral fog, and the minerality of the geologic underpinnings. These disparate facets in symphony provide a natural balance of freshness, energy, and tannin. They believe these traits, in wine, are the building blocks of great vitality and long life.

Maybach | Oakville, CA

For 100 years the name Maybach has been synonymous with quality at the finest level. The tradition of individuality and craftsmanship established by their ancestors, they intend to honor with their hand-made wines.  The Oakville AVA and a mountain soil profile combine for a deeply layered, rich wine. Aromas of cedar bark, bacon, blackberries and white flowers swell out of the glass. On the palate, the experience takes a turn towards a brooding, complex mix of brambly black fruit, spiced plum, sweet tobacco and chinese medicinal herbs. These flavors are harmoniously integrated from front to back all framed with a structured set of tannins.

The Vineyardist | Calistoga, CA

Carving vineyards into the volcanic Diamond Mountain terrain has produced fruit that, with vision and expert guidance, results in a remarkable Cabernet Sauvignon that finds its peers among the finest offerings from Napa and Bordeaux. The Vineyardist has extraordinary terroir and a highly acclaimed vineyard management and wine-making team which is engaged in the daily pursuit of perfection.

Vangone | Napa, CA

Their second vintage showcases the vineyard blossoming in power and complexity. The Estate wine is based on the 412 Clone of Cabernet that expresses itself with deep, powerful fruit laced with hints of earth and high-toned structure. The resulting purple-black color, density, weight and an eternal finish carries through those expressive blackberry fruits framed by notes of incense on a silken and persistent palate that showcases the vineyard's mountain power and finesse. 

Eisele Vineyard | Calistoga, CA

First planted to vines in the 1880s, Eisele Vineyard sits in the northeast Napa Valley, just east of Calistoga at the base of the Palisades Mountain range. Farmed organically since 1998 and biodynamically since 2000, the site has been principally dedicated to Cabernet Sauvignon for the last fifty years. Beginning with the inaugural release bearing the Eisele name in 1971, this iconic vineyard has received consistent recognition for possessing one of the great terroirs of Napa Valley. The wines invariably express the exceptional depth, elegance and longevity which are hallmarks of the Eisele Vineyard.

DANA | Rutherford, CA

Dana Estates produces three single vineyards wines, from sites that are dramatically different from one another. Each vineyard is farmed organically at low yields to allow the unique qualities of each site to be expressed in the bottle.  Multiple passes through the vineyards are made during harvest, and only the purest expressions of fruit and most balanced lots make it into Dana wines. Depending on the character of each lot, blocks are fermented in either concrete tanks, oak uprights or small barrels to enhance vineyard characteristics and help produce wines of distinction and sophistication.

Colgin | St Helena, CA

Colgin Cellars produces exquisitely handcrafted red wines using only the finest neo-classical winemaking methods in concert with small yields, gentle handling, attentive sorting and meticulous blending. They vinify fruit from a portfolio of Napa Valley vineyards with exceptional soils and microclimates, producing a continuity of quality that is distinctly Colgin.

Hundred Acre | St. Helena, CA

Between 2002 and 2015 vintages, Jayson Woodbridge, founder and winemaker of Hundred Acre, has attained the singular achievement of having been awarded a total of 22 perfect 100-point scores by the esteemed Mr. Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate.  They are not easy to secure unless you are on Hundred Acre’s mailing list, but they are truly profound offerings that showcase a variety of Napa Valley terroirs as well as different harvesting and barrel aging techniques.

Dalla Valle | Oakville, CA

Dalla Valle Vineyards is recognized as one of Napa Valley’s preeminent family-run wineries. Founded in 1986 by Naoko and her late husband Gustav Dalla Valle, on the famed eastern hillsides of Oakville, Dalla Valle Vineyards has earned acclaim as one of world’s most celebrated wine estates, yielding wines of extraordinary character and complexity, vintage after vintage. Today, Dalla Valle is guided by the mother-and-daughter team of Naoko and Maya Dalla Valle. With a shared mission that Dalla Valle thrive for generations to come, this pair stewards every aspect of the viticulture and winemaking with a level of meticulous care and detail reserved for the great First Growths.

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