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The Napa Valley produces the most expensive wines in the United States, mostly of the Cabernet Sauvignon variety. Napa wines exist in a world of cult followings and speculation. People buy them months or even years in advance, not just because they enjoy drinking them, but also because they’re considered a good investment. Wine prices are only marginally determined by the taste of the wine; also important is how they’re rated by influential critics, the famous winemakers who work at the vineyard and how many bottles are produced for every vintage.

5 Bryant Family Vineyards

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The Bryant Family Vineyards, owned by Don Bryant and his wife, were initially managed by Helen Turley—there is a reason why she’s a household name among wine snobs. Within two years, Bryant Family Vineyards was producing some of the best wines in the Napa Valley. Currently, the winery is managed by David Abreu, who owns his own popular wine and retains famous Bordeaux oenologist Michel Rolland as a consultant. Bottles of Bryant Family Proprietary Red start at $250 and go up to $750.

4 Schrader Cellars

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Fred Schrader co-founded Colgin Cellars with his then-wife Ann before moving on to create his own vineyard. Schrader Cellar’s wines are now among the most celebrated and sought-after wines in the United States, winning James Laube’s first 100-point score for an American wine in 2007 and 100-point scores from the famous Robert M. Parker three years in a row. A case of Schrader’s Cabernet Sauvignon can go for over $2,200 and a magnum-sized bottle of Old Sparky can sell for more than $3,500.

3 Harlan Estate

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Bill Harlan, the owner of Harlan Estate winery, produces less than 2,000 cases of wine per year. Like Screaming Eagle, buyers reserve their bottles months before the wine is finished fermenting. Harlan started his winery with the goal of creating a “first growth” Bordeaux, the highest classification of Bordeaux wine, starting with the ideal soil and perfecting trellising, cloning and varieties until the wine was faultless. Bottles of Harlan Estate go for more than $500.

2 Colgin Cellars

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Another superstar on the Napa Valley wine stage is Ann Colgin, the owner of Colgin Cellars. Colgin drew interest in her wine from the start by hiring Helen Turley, a famous winemaker and wine consultant, to join her team. Almost immediately, Colgin Cellars became a “cult” favorite. Colgin’s 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon, the first vintage to earn her a 100-point rating, currently goes for between $750 and over $1,100 per bottle.

1 Screaming Eagle

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Consistently listed as one of the most popular cult wines in the United States, Screaming Eagle got its start when wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr. praised it in his newsletter, “The Wine Advocate.” Quickly, Screaming Eagle began selling for over $9,000 a case, and bottles regularly go for over $500. Buyers reserve bottles of Screaming Eagle more than a year in advance.

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