From the Washington Post:

On a warm autumn afternoon, a steel-framed concrete warehouse north of San Francisco is inundated with grapes. Forklifts bearing fruit from the nearby Russian River Valley deliver their loads to a slow-moving conveyor belt.

It's the crush at Kosta Browne Winery, a Sonoma County maker of pinot noir that's become one of the hottest wineries among investment bankers, venture capitalists and enthusiasts. Michael Browne, Kosta Browne's co-founder and winemaker, grabs a cluster from a tub and eats some of the grapes.

These ultra-premium wineries shun retailers and make it hard to buy their wines, building a following through word of mouth. Cult pioneers - Colgin Cellars, Harlan Estate and Screaming Eagle - have reshaped the economics of the high-end market by fetching Bordeaux-caliber prices at auction.

Calif. winemakers bottle exclusivity