What is Cult Wine? A Guide to California Napa Valley Cult Wines

The summer is here – does the summer heat remind you of the always-sunny California? In California, there are a lot of excellent producers, such as Opus One, Paul Hobbs, and Louis M.Martini. It is also the birthplace of “Cult Wines”, which are the pigeon-blood ruby of the wine world. Let’s learn more about Cult Wines and some famous names we should know!

What is California Cult Wine?

Garage Wine, Cult Wine, or wine from boutique wineries have something in common – all are made in small batches with great quality.

1. Garage Wine

Garage wine originated in the Right Bank of Bordeaux in the 90’s, when a group of winemakers initiated a revolution that had shaken the winemaking traditions. Some of them believed that “the lower the yields, the better the quality”. So, they started making wine in a very small scale at their cellar or garage, and this’s the story behind the name of “Garage Wine”. They used new wine techniques such as strict grape selection, and made exceptionally good wines in small quantities.

2. Cult Wine

“Cult” is rooted in the Latin “Cultus”, meaning “to worship or give reference to a deity”. What makes people “worship” Cult Wine? It is because of its generally high quality and price, plus the highly limited supply. From grape production to selection, fermentation, and the choices of oak barrels, every single step is strictly examined, and hence assuring good quality. Most Cult Wines are produced in the Napa Valley of California.

California Cult Wines

1. Screaming Eagle

Based in Napa Valley, Screaming Eagle produces some of the most expensive wine in America, if not in the world. The demand has been driven up since it was awarded Robert Parker score of 99 points for its first vintage. Screaming Eagle also enjoyed several times of perfect score of 100 points. Because of its high quality of wine and scarcity, Screaming Eagle has become one of the most appealing cult wines for collectors.

2. Harlan Estate

Harlan Estate, founded in 1984, is located in the western hills of Oakville in the Napa Valley. Owning 40 acres under vine, the winery is planted with 70% of Cabernet Sauvignon. Described as “the ultimate cult winery”, from 1991 to 2014, Harlan Estate has achieved 6 times of 100-point scores from Robert Parker and has the availability, market price, and status similar to Screaming Eagle. Robert Parker described Harlan Estate’s wine as possessing individuality, power combined with elegance, showing extraordinary complexity with aging potential.