Screaming Eagle Sold

Two California entrepreneurs buy the cult winery in a deal worth a reported $30 Million.

Last week, Charles Banks and Stanley Kroenke bought Napa Valley cult winery, Screaming Eagle, in a deal that is estimated to be worth $20-$30 million. Banks, a money manager for NBA players and other athletes, is no stranger to wine. He is part owner of an 80-acre vineyard in Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County, where he is based. Banks' business partner, real-estate developer Kroenke, owns several sports teams including the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche, as well as the sports arena where the teams play. Kroenke's wife is Ann Walton, an heir to the Wal-Mart family fortune, but the partners stress that this deal does not involve her family.

Screaming Eagle, founded by Jean Phillips, produces only around 500 cases of their famed Cabernet Sauvignon per year. Bottles are sold via mailing list for $300 at first release. At the 2005 Hart Davis Hart wine auction, a lot of 9 magnums of Screaming Eagle was sold for $32,760, an average of $3,640 per magnum. It is one of Napa's most sought-after wines, thanks to the expert skills of winemaker Heidi Peterson Barrett.

According to a letter Phillips wrote to her mailing list customers dated March 17, she intends to "slow down a bit in life" and insists that "the owners have exciting plans to keep [the winery] small but raise the bar on quality."

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