A new breed of winemakers is flowing into Napa Valley, writes Jeffrey O'Brien in a colorful look at the trend in Fortune. Investment bankers, tech entrepreneurs, and other wealthy refugees of the white-collar rat race are buying up vineyards at $400,000 per acre to pursue second careers that let them have a business—and a life. These "oentrepreneurs" aren’t just looking to make a buck; they’d rather generate buzz with sought-after, high-end cult wines.
That's a good thing considering start-up costs and a fancy winery costs tens of millions. "And then what?" asks O'Brien. "Selling 400 cases at $200 a bottle grosses less than $1 million. The good news is that as long as bottles of first-growth bordeaux are selling for $1,200 and up, there's the appearance of headroom." To that end, some are relying less on Robert Parker's rating and more on scarcity and star power: limited production and buy-in from celebs help ensure high-priced wines sell out.