Life After Screaming Eagle

September 30th 2013

Château Latour’s director told Charles Banks he’d be better off planting asparagus than vines on the spot he’d picked out for his first vineyard venture. But Banks knew that turning a vegetable patch into a vineyard had worked for Henri Jayer: Cros Parantoux, once planted with artichokes, now produces one of the world’s most sought-after red Burgundies.

The vegetable patch (actually a former cattle ranch) worked out just fine for Banks, too. Robert Parker described his $100-plus 2007 El Alma de Jonata Cabernet Franc as “the finest cabernet franc to emerge south of San Francisco,” and said it was “reminiscent of what Cheval Blanc might taste like if it were located in the Santa Ynez Valley!”

Having made his money as a venture capitalist, Banks has since sold his land in Santa Ynez. In 2010, he also relinquished his stake in Napa’s most secretive winery, Screaming Eagle, after four years as managing partner, citing family reasons.

With “a clean slate and a few bucks burning a hole in our pocket,” Banks and his wife, Ali, wondered what to do next. Spending his days on the golf course clearly wasn’t on the agenda, as he now has a number of major projects on the go.

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