Shafer Vineyards traces its roots to 1972, when Chicago publishing executive John Shafer and his family moved to the Napa Valley and purchased a 210 acre wine estate in the Stags Leap district. The first years as fledgling grape growers were arduous. John and son Doug terraced the steep and rocky hillsides and replanted decades-old vineyards. Evolving from grape growers to vintners, the Shafers crushed their first Cabernet in 1978 and began construction on a winery the following year. Today, the Shafers own and farm 200 acres of sustainable vineyard, sources for the winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot and Syrah. John is now chairman, Doug is president and the talented Elias Fernandez is winemaker.
The Quarterly Review of Wines calls the winery “One the country’s best”. From Robert Parker: “One of Napa’s most prominent and respected wineries, Shafer is a poster boy for remarkable and consistent quality across the board. This is a winery that never seems to disappoint.”
“Year in year out, this is one of the superstar wineries, not only in Napa Valley and all of California, but in the entire world. It’s the product of visionary John Shafer, who started in 1978 after a successful corporate career. He had the foresight and visionary genius to believe in the microclimates and soils of Stags Leap of the southern Napa Valley.
When his son Doug came on board with their brilliant winemaker and Mr. Everything, Elias Fernandez, things soared in quality and diversity. Today, this is a winery that does everything about as perfect as can be. They have kept their feet, heads and egos grounded, and continue to kick proverbial ass with every vintage.
They made some of the very finest, possibly the Cabernet Sauvignon of the vintage in 2011, and in 2012 and 2013, they have crafted one profound wine after another. For starters, their Chardonnay has always been a non-malolactic Chardonnay, of which 75% is barrel-fermented and the other quarter in stainless steel. As good as it is, it’s hard to believe they produce a whopping 6,400 cases of it. John and Doug Shafer, along with Elias Fernandez, have certainly excelled at turning out gorgeous Merlots that are concentrated and fleshy as well as elegant.
A big success for Shafer has been their Stags Leap One Point Five Cabernet Sauvignon. They make between 6,000 to 7,000 cases of this wine in any vintage. About one-third of their famous Hillside Vineyard, which represents 100% of their flagship wine Hillside Select, goes into this cuvée. The Hillside Select, their 2,400-case cuvée of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 32 months in 100% new French oak.
Lastly, another sensational wine from the Shafer portfolio is the Relentless. This has been a terrific Rhône Ranger offering since it was first released in 1999, and it continues to be primarily a 89%-97% Syrah blend and the rest Petite Sirah. Like the Hillside Select, it’s aged 32 months in new oak prior to being bottled. I have no idea how long these wines will last, but they’re fabulous to drink young, and certainly 20-25 years is well within reach of just about every top vintage of Relentless.” – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Oct 2014
“There are very few wineries in California where you can say that the original wine owners and winemaking staff are totally intact and have been, in this case, since 1978. The estate was founded by John Shafer and run with great precision by himself and more recently by his son Doug and Elias Fernandez. The team has been working together for 38 years since the first vintage in 1978. Six years earlier in 1972, John Shafer bought the property and established the vineyard in the hillsides of Stags Leap. They produce about 30,000 cases of wine – all of it noteworthy. Their Cabernet Sauvignon is true first-growth quality and their Rhône Ranger wine made from Syrah and Petite Sirah, called Relentless, is about as profound as you can get from those varietals.” – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Oct 2016
17-time Winner “American Winery of the Year”, Wine & Spirits