Recent Work — Shafer Vineyards


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Shafer "Owner\'s Manuals" are handed out during tastings at the winery. The piece won international gold at a design competition.

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Recent Work — Shafer Vineyards

  1. 1. 1 SH AFE R OWNE R ’S MANUAL Winemaking at Shafer The Shafer approach to vineyard cultivation and winemaking OV E R V IE W can be summed up in the title of the old Stephen Stills song, “Love the one you’re with.” When we started making wine in the late 1970s, none of us had the opportunity to visit other great viticultural regions of the world and learn how wine was made in, say, Bordeaux, Chianti, or Southern Australia. The team of John Shafer, Doug Shafer, and Elias Fernandez was completely absorbed (they might say “overwhelmed”) in learning how to grow fruit and make wine from our little plot of earth in Napa Valley. Shafer Vineyards, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
  2. 2. 2 3 OV E R V IE W SH AFE R OWNE R ’S MANUAL Winery Profile By the late 1980s after more than a decade focused solely on this site, we knew our soils, our climate, and our fruit and had developed approaches to making the best tasting wine that our Annual production: 32,000 cases OV E R V IE W OV E R V IE W vineyards could deliver. Varietals produced: Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon Thanks to our warm, moderate climate — with abundant sun- Ownership: Fully owned and operated by the Shafer family light during midday, chilly evenings, and foggy early morn- ings — our vineyards yield fruit that offers concentrated, lush Chairman: John Shafer aromas and flavors. Our love-the-one-you’re-with approach President: Doug Shafer means that we let our vineyards speak for themselves and don’t attempt to alter our boldly flavored California fruit so that it Winemaker: Elias Fernandez parrots the style of another region. Date winery estate purchased by Shafer family: 1972 The resulting wines reflect the consistency found on these sin- Vintage of first wine produced: 1978 gular vineyard sites — clean, rich, long aromas and flavors. Over the decades we find that these wines mature beautifully, Location of winery estate: Napa Valley, Stags Leap District eventually giving up those rambunctious flavors of youth for Total vineyard acreage: 205 the smoky elegance and layered flavors of age.
  3. 3. 4 5 OV E R V IE W SH AFE R OWNE R ’S MANUAL Shafer History Timeline 1981 On the Monday following the first Wine Auction a huge wildfire sweeps through Napa Valley’s dry eastern hills. John’s home narrowly escapes OV E R V IE W OV E R V IE W 1880s Napa Valley pioneers Jacob Ohl and C. H. Linderman plant vineyards on destruction and afterward he plants a vineyard around the house, naming future Shafer estate. it “Firebreak.” 1922 Italian immigrant Batista Scansi re-plants during 1982 Shafer clears three acres of Zinfindel and buds over to Merlot. Prohibition and sells fruit to home winemakers. 1983 Doug joins the winery as winemaker. When he tastes 1972 Shafer family purchases 209-acre property including the 1982 lot from the Sunspot vineyard block he’s 30 acres of Scansi’s vineyards. so impressed he talks John into keeping it separate from the others. With the Sunspot lot Doug creates 1973- John Shafer plants Cabernet Sauvignon, creating small hillside vineyard Shafer’s one and only Reserve Cabernet. 1974 blocks such as Sunspot and John’s Folly. 1984 Doug says the Reserve deserves a better name and creates the first Hillside 1977 John decides to start a winery and makes his first foray into winemaking Select with the 1983 vintage. with a batch of homemade Zinfandel from 50-year-old vines. Elias Fernandez is hired as assistant winemaker three 1978 John makes his first Shafer Vineyards wine — weeks prior to his graduation from U.C. Davis. a precursor to Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon — with fruit from John’s Folly. 1985 The hit TV show Falcon Crest turns a knoll near the winery into a cemetery and “buries” John’s favorite 1979 A bitterly cold January keeps Shafer’s first Cabernet World War II pin-up girl Lana Turner. John names the from going through malolactic fermentation. John site “La Vigna Lana.” finds the warmth the wine needs when he wraps the barrels in electric blankets. Shafer releases its first Merlot, a 1983 vintage. 1981 Shafer’s 1978 Cabernet is released and makes its debut at the first Napa Shafer releases the fifth and final Zinfandel, a 1983 vintage, which is Valley Wine Auction. dubbed “Last Chance.”
  4. 4. 6 7 OV E R V IE W SH AFE R OWNE R ’S MANUAL 1985 John leads an effort to petition the government to designate Stags Leap 1998 John brings new puppy Tucker to the office, where he District an American Viticultural Area (AVA). joins John’s phone conversations and eats the mail. OV E R V IE W OV E R V IE W 1988 Shafer purchases 70-acre Red Shoulder Ranch in Carneros. 1999 John chairs the Napa Valley Wine Auction, raising a record-breaking $5.5 million. Shafer takes first steps toward sustainable 2002 First release of Relentless, 1999 vintage, named to honor Elias’ relentless agriculture, planting cover crops and erecting hawk perches and owl nesting boxes (to encourage these pursuit of wine quality. raptors to lower the gopher population) in Stags Leap Elias is named “Winemaker of the Year” by two prestigious publications: District and Carneros vineyards. Quarterly Review of Wines and Food & Wine magazine. He is also honored 1989 Stags Leap District is approved as an AVA. at the White House as a Hispanic role model. 1991 Shafer digs an 8,000 sq. ft. wine cave. Shafer’s hillside vineyards are named among the Top 25 Vineyards in the World by Wine & Spirits magazine. 1993 Shafer releases its first proprietary red wine, Firebreak, a 2003 Shafer is dubbed “one of the world’s greatest wineries” by wine critic 1991 vintage blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet. Robert M. Parker, Jr. Shafer’s “electric blanket” vintage, the 1978 Cabernet, wins an international competition in Germany, outranking Shafer’s barrel lot of 2001 Hillside Select takes the top spot at the Napa such wines as Chateau Margaux and Chateau Latour. Valley Wine Auction. 1994 Doug is named winery president, Elias is named winemaker, and John takes Shafer barrels move into a new state-of-the-art barrel room. the role of chairman. 2004 Shafer celebrates 25 years of winemaking. 1995 Shafer’s first Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay, 1994 vintage, is released. To celebrate 25 years and to honor John Shafer, Shafer The vineyard hawks are happy and well-fed. Vineyards releases a one-time bottling of 2001 Shafer 25th Sunspot Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon: 25 barrels made from 25-year-old Sunspot vines.
  5. 5. 8 9 OV E R V IE W SH AFE R OWNE R ’S MANUAL The Shafer Team 2004 Shafer’s barrel lot of 2002 Hillside Select takes the top spot at the Napa Valley Wine Auction. John Shafer, Chairman OV E R V IE W OV E R V IE W Shafer constructs a 128-kW solar array and becomes The lure of wine country farming in- the first winery in Napa and Sonoma to generate spired John Shafer in 1972 to make a 100 percent of its power needs with solar energy. career change, leaving behind 23 years of corporate experience to begin work 2005 An extensive winery renovation and expansion project begins. Employees in a new field. And in the fields, or and guests are greeted daily with new configurations of mud, orange safety rather the vineyards, is exactly where cones, piles of stone, and construction equipment. he began his new career. John could be seen throughout the mid-70s riding on 2006 The final release of Shafer’s Sangiovese is dubbed “Last Chance Firebreak” his tractor as he tilled and terraced the soil of his family’s new harkening back to the “Last Chance Zinfandel” 21 years previous. estate in the foothills of the Stags Leap Palisades. 2007 Shafer releases first vintage of One Point Five Stags Leap District Cabernet What began as a career in grape growing quickly expanded Sauvignon. The name plays off “a generation and a half,” a term Doug and into full-scale winemaking. In 1978, John made the winery’s John created to describe their long-time working relationship. first Cabernet Sauvignon and a year later construction began Shafer’s barrel lot of 2005 Hillside Select takes the top spot at the Napa on the family winery. The debut wine was released in 1981 to Valley Wine Auction, breaking the $100,000 mark. high praise, including a first place in the San Francisco Vint- ners Club Cabernet taste-off. More than fifteen years later, this The winery’s renovation project is completed, wine continues to prove its remarkable ageability, winning first offering a new tasting area and an inviting new look. place in a 1993 German blind tasting against first growth Bor- deaux wines. 2008 Doug Shafer brings Tanner to the winery, an amiable Golden Retriever who chews on desk legs and races In 1984 John lead a group of neighboring vintners to peti- up and down the hallway. tion the government to designate Stags Leap as an American Viticultural Area (AVA). In 1989 the group was successful and Shafer builds new 100kW solar array to power water reclamation pond and Stags Leap District was officially created. irrigation system for Hillside Estate Vineyards.
  6. 6. 10 11 OV E R V IE W SH AFE R OWNE R ’S MANUAL In 1994, John moved from the position of president to chair- During his ten years as winemaker, Doug created Hillside Se- man of the board. In his new position, he focuses on long- lect and forged the trademark Shafer style of quality, consis- range strategic planning and export sales. tency, and elegance. Vintage by vintage, he learned to highlight OV E R V IE W OV E R V IE W the natural character of the grapes from his family’s hillside vineyards, crafting wines that reflect the Stags Leap District Doug Shafer, President character of rich fruit and soft tannins. During this period he Doug Shafer arrived in the Napa Valley also managed the estate vineyards and developed a new vine- at age 17 when he moved with his fam- yard in the Carneros district. ily from the Chicago suburbs to a new In the late 1980s, Doug launched the winery in the direction home in the foothills of the Stags Leap of sustainable agriculture. Today the vineyards are cultivated Palisades. without the use of chemical fertilizers or insecticides and the Throughout his junior and senior years winery distinguished itself as the first in the region to flip the of high school he spent long hours help- switch to 100 percent solar power. ing his father replant and then clear land for new vineyards. In 1994, Doug took over the reins as president when his father His satisfaction working in the vineyards inspired him to en- John became chairman of the board. As president, Doug over- roll in the enology and viticulture program at the University sees the daily operations of the winery and vineyards as well of California at Davis. as sales and marketing. He maintains a hands-on approach, While completing his university studies, Doug spent summers working closely with his father and winemaker Elias Fernan- working with his father in the vineyards and at Hanns Kornell dez to ensure both the quality of the wines and the future of and Robert Mondavi wineries. Meanwhile, his father was pre- Shafer Vineyards. paring to crush the first vintage of wine in 1978. Following Long-term, Doug is committed to preserving Shafer as a small graduation, Doug honed his skills as assistant winemaker at family winery dedicated to the production of world-class wines Lakespring Winery prior to becoming winemaker at Shafer in from the estate vineyards. 1983.
  7. 7. 12 13 OV E R V IE W SH AFE R OWNE R ’S MANUAL Three weeks before graduation, in 1984, he was hired as as- Elias Fernandez, Winemaker sistant winemaker at Shafer Vineyards working with Doug Elias Fernandez knows Napa Valley Shafer. The winery was then just five years old. Those first ten OV E R V IE W OV E R V IE W vineyards from the roots up, having years were some of the toughest of his career, learning often by first-hand experience of what it’s like trial and error the intricacies of growing grapes, making wine, to work in summer heat among dusty and operating a cellar. vine rows as well as how tough it is to For several years Elias shared co-winemaker duties with Doug prune vines in the freezing winter pre- Shafer. Then in 1994 Doug became winery president and Elias dawn light. took on the winemaker title with all of its duties. Both his parents were farmworkers who In 2002 both Quarterly Review of Wines and Food & Wine worked in local orchards and vineyards. In junior high, Elias magazine named Elias “Winemaker of the Year.” Shafer Vine- started working with his father, who taught him to drive trac- yards was selected as one of the “25 Great Vineyards in the tors and train and prune grapevines. From both parents he World” by Wine & Spirits magazine. learned the value of hard work and self-reliance. On October 2, 2002 he accepted a prestigious “Hall of Fame” With his mother’s encouragement Elias played trumpet from award from the Hispanic Scholarship Fund in Washington an early age and distinguished himself to such a degree that he D.C. and attended a White House reception hosted by Presi- received a Fulbright music scholarship to attend the Jazz pro- dent George W. Bush. gram at the University of Nevada, Reno. He is the first person in his family to attend college. After a year in Reno Elias says something just “clicked” and he felt an tug to return to his agricultural roots. In 1981 he enrolled at University of California, Davis to study enology, the science of winemaking.
  8. 8. 14 15 OV E R V IE W SH AFE R OWNE R ’S MANUAL Vineyard Locations Shafer Vineyards Wines From a modest beginning of 1,000 cases in 1978, Shafer Vine- BORDERLINE OV E R V IE W Size: 25 acres yards has grown slowly until reaching its present size of 32,000 Location: Stags Leap District cases of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Syrah. Variety planted: Cabernet Today Shafer wines are available in major markets nationwide Sauvignon and in top restaurants and hotels internationally. LA MESA “… one of the world’s greatest wineries. — Robert M. Parker, Jr. ” HILLSIDE ESTATE VINEYARDS Size: 18 acres OUR W INE S Size: 54 acres Location: Napa Valley Location: Stags Leap District Varieties planted: Syrah, Petite Sirah Variety planted: Cabernet Sauvignon RIDGEBACK & SCHOOL BUS RED SHOULDER RANCH Size: 42 acres Size: 66 acres Location: Napa Valley Location: Los Carneros Varieties planted: Cabernet Variety planted: Chardonnay Sauvignon and Merlot
  9. 9. 16 17 OUR WINE S SH AFE R OWNE R ’S MANUAL Red Shoulder Ranch® Chardonnay Tasting Notes Carneros Chardonnay Shafer’s Red Shoulder Ranch vineyard lies within sight of the northern rim of San Francisco Bay. The marine-influenced climate in Napa Valley’s southernmost growing area, Carne- ros, offers a long, cool growing season that’s ideal for develop- ing Chardonnay’s spectrum of floral and tropical aromas and flavors as well as its natural acidity. OUR W INE S OUR W INE S The cellar team takes a largely hands-off approach for produc- ing this wine. We use only the yeast that thrives naturally in the vineyard for fermentation and, in order to enjoy the va- riety’s true acidity, we do not put the wine through malolac- tic fermentation. Instead we ferment the wine in individual barrels (80 percent oak, 20 percent stain- less steel) and we stir the lees once a week during its 14 months of aging to give the wine a creamy mouthfeel.
  10. 10. 18 19 OUR WINE S SH AFE R OWNE R ’S MANUAL Merlot Tasting Notes Napa Valley Merlot While this wine is officially designated with the Napa Val- ley appellation, its fruit is sourced from within just a three mile radius in the Valley’s cooler southern end. Much of the fruit for our Merlot comes from a hilly Shafer-owned vineyard we’ve informally dubbed “School Bus, located about a quarter ” mile due south of Stags Leap District. The remainder is culti- OUR W INE S OUR W INE S vated within Stags Leap District by growers we’ve worked with closely for years. Since first planting this variety in 1981 we’ve learned that Merlot is a finicky grape — a bit too much rain or a touch of frost early in the season can easily result in less than ideal fruit. Years of experience have taught us to tend these vines with care. Early on each season our vineyard team culls any less developed fruit, leaving only the best-of-the-best on the vine. This ensures that the wine ex- hibits lush, ripe, mouth-filling flavors that are true to varietal character.
  11. 11. 20 21 OUR WINE S SH AFE R OWNE R ’S MANUAL One Point Five® Tasting Notes Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon Only a handful of Cabernet Sauvignons in the world are des- ignated as Stags Leap District wines thanks to the appellation’s small size. It takes only four minutes to drive the length of the District, passing through its 1,300 planted acres. Since the early 1980s Shafer has produced two Cabernets from OUR W INE S OUR W INE S Stags Leap District, and One Point Five continues that tra- dition. The fruit is predominantly sourced from the Hillside Estate Vineyards surrounding the winery as well as a 25-acre Shafer-owned vineyard located two miles south of the winery called “Borderline,” which sits inside the border of Stags Leap District. The name One Point Five is meant to convey the importance of the family part- nership at the core of Shafer Vineyards. A familiar family business story is the second-generation tale, where a parent hands an established enterprise over to a son or daughter. Here though, John and Doug Shafer have worked to- gether for so long, they describe their partnership as a-generation-and-a-half, from which we coined the name One Point Five.
  12. 12. 22 23 OUR WINE S SH AFE R OWNE R ’S MANUAL Relentless® Tasting Notes Napa Valley Syrah/Petite Sirah Relentless is born on a remote ridgetop vineyard in the south- ern foothills of Napa Valley’s Vaca Mountain range. The wine is a field blend of 80 percent Syrah and 20 percent Petite Sirah, which means that these two grape varietals grow side by side, and are picked and crushed together. OUR W INE S OUR W INE S In the first vintages of this wine the Petite Sirah dominated with its purple-midnight color and solid black-fruit, smoke, and black pepper flavors. In the more recent vintages the Syrah has moved into the forefront with its flavors of spice and meatiness, bringing a touch of elegance to this otherwise bold, flamboyant wine. The wine is named to honor long-time Shafer Winemaker Elias Fernandez and his relentless pursuit of quality in the vineyard and cellar.
  13. 13. 24 25 OUR WINE S SH AFE R OWNE R ’S MANUAL Hillside Select® Tasting Notes Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon Shafer’s signature wine, Hillside Select, is sourced from the slopes of an amphitheater-like structure of thin soil and rock, where thanks to a series of knolls and outcroppings some vine- yard blocks receive southeastern sunlight, while others receive southern or western exposures. OUR W INE S OUR W INE S Each afternoon cool breezes from San Francisco Bay (located about 18 miles to the south) channel into our box canyon. The consistent see-saw of daytime heat and evening chill retains acidity within deeply ripened fruit, resulting in a wine of ex- quisite balance. Meanwhile, the rock-choked site offers lit- tle more than 18 to 22 inches of volcanic soil before meeting weathered bedrock below. With the hillside’s quick run- off and the lack of plant nutrients, the struggling vines produce less than half the fruit tonnage per acre as a typi- cal Napa Valley vineyard. The clusters are small, made up of blueberry-sized grapes that when crushed offer rich flavor, soft texture, and smooth, el- egant tannins.
  14. 14. 26 27 OUR WINE S SH AFE R OWNE R ’S MANUAL Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay Merlot Production Notes Production Notes Shafer grows its own Merlot fruit at a vineyard called “School Bus” and purchases the remainder from Stags Leap District growers we’ve partnered with for years. Our only white wine is sourced from a single Shafer-owned vineyard that lies within sight of the northernmost reach of San Francisco Bay. Appellation: Napa Valley (located near the southern boundary of Stags Leap District in the foothills of the Vaca Mountains) Appellation: Los Carneros, Napa Valley Acres: 11 Acres: 68 Grape Variety: Merlot Grape Variety: Chardonnay OUR W INE S OUR W INE S GPS Location: 38º22’27.65”N, 122 º18’02.95”W GPS Location: 38º14’44.92”N, 122 º21’14.36”W Elevation: 68 to 130 ft Elevation: 126 to 243 ft Soil Type: Silty loam Soil Type: Diablo clay and silty clay Soil Depth: 29 - 56 inches Soil Depth: 16 - 30 inches Varietal The blend changes somewhat each vintage. Typically 80 to 85% Varietal 100% Chardonnay Composition: Merlot with 15 to 20% Cabernet Sauvignon Composition: Brix at Harvest: 24.0° - 25.5° Brix at Harvest: 24.0° - 25.0° Cooperage: 20 months in French oak barrels (60% new) Cooperage: 14 months in 50% new oak: 80% French (Allier, Vosge), 20% American oak (Missouri) Bottle: 7 months in the bottle prior to release Fermentation Fermented in the barrel with wild yeast. Barrels are 80% oak, Case Production: Approximately 9,000 - 10,000 20% stainless steel. 0% malolactic fermentation Bottle: 3 months in the bottle prior to release Case Production: Approximately 5,000 - 6,500
  15. 15. 28 29 OUR WINE S SH AFE R OWNE R ’S MANUAL One Point Five Cabernet Sauvignon Production Notes One Point Five is sourced predominantly from two Stags Leap District vineyards: our Hillside Soil Depth: 3 to 4 feet Estate Vineyard and the Borderline Vineyard, which Shafer also owns, located about two miles south of the winery. Varietal 98-99% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1-2% Petite Verdot Composition: Hillside Estate Vineyard Stats Brix at Harvest: 24.0° - 25.5° Appellation: Napa Valley, Stags Leap District Cooperage: 20 months in 75% new French oak (Allier & Tronçais) OUR W INE S OUR W INE S Acres: 54 Bottle: 11 months in the bottle prior to release Grape Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon Case Production: Approximately 9,500 - 10,000 GPS Location: 38º25’13.52”N, 122 º19’31.28”W Elevation: 185 to 510 ft Soil Type: Volcanic Soil Depth: 18 - 22 inches Borderline Vineyard Stats Appellation: Napa Valley, Stags Leap District Acres: 25 GPS Location: 38º22’58.69”N, 122 º18’35.36”W Elevation: 64 - 80 ft Soil Type: Loam Borderline Vineyard, Stags Leap District
  16. 16. 30 31 OUR WINE S SH AFE R OWNE R ’S MANUAL Relentless Production Notes Hillside Select Production Notes Relentless is a field blend of the noble grape Syrah and its more rustic cousin Petite Sirah. Hillside Select is a wine of a place, sourced solely from the Cabernet Sauvignon planted on This combination creates a wine that’s powerful and rich with a lasting finish. the arid, rocky slopes that surround the winery. Appellation: Appellation: Napa Valley (located less than 100 feet from the southern bound- Napa Valley, Stags Leap District ary of Stags Leap District in the foothills of the Vaca Mountains) Acres: 54 Acres: 30 Grape Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon Grape Variety: Syrah, Petite Sirah OUR W INE S OUR W INE S GPS Location: 38°25’13.52”N, 122°19’31.28”W GPS Location: 38 º22’59.19N, 122 º17’59.01W Elevation: 185 to 510 ft Elevation: 355 - 420 ft Soil type: Volcanic Soil Type: Gravelly clay loam Soil depth: 18 - 22 inches Soil Depth: 18 - 29 inches Fruit Selection: The Hillside Estate Vineyard is comprised of 14 vineyard blocks that Varietal 80-85% Syrah, 15-20% Petite Sirah receive varying degrees of sun exposures throughout the year as Composition: well as differing exposure to fog and radiant heat from the tower- ing, granite palisades that serve as a backdrop to our property. Brix at Harvest: 24.0° - 25.5° These vineyard blocks range in size from one to nine acres and include names such as Sunspot, Venado Ilegal, John’s Folly, Rattler, Cooperage: 30 months in 100% new French oak barrels (Allier & Tronçais) Hitching Post, La Vigna Lana, and others. In addition, these blocks are planted to varying rootstocks and to a handful of genetic sub- Bottle: 8 months in the bottle prior to release sets, called clones, of Cabernet Sauvignon. Each year our vineyard Case Production: Approximately 3,500 - 3,800 team harvests the fruit from these blocks separately; we ferment them separately and then select which hillside blocks will go into that vintage’s wine — thus the name Hillside Select.
  17. 17. 32 OUR WINE S Varietal 100% Cabernet Sauvignon Composition: Brix at 24.0° - 25.5° Harvest: Cooperage: 32 months in 100% new French oak barrels (Allier & Tronçais) Bottle: 15 months in the bottle prior to release OUR W INE S Case Approximately 2,000 – 2,400 Production: Shafer Vineyards