Food & Wine

Shafer Vineyards

No large signs or marquee lights announce the entrance to Shafer Vineyards from Napa’s Silverado Trail. The winery’s humility actually provides an adventure of discovery.  Located in Napa Valley, this hillside destination produces rich wines full of decadent flavor.


The story of Shafer Vineyards begins in 1973 when founder, John Shafer left suburban Chicago and his business industry roots to start a winery in Northern California.

Today, Doug Shafer carries on his father’s legacy by producing 5 top-notch wines, including the Hillside Select, Relentless, One Point Five Cabernet, TD-9, and Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay.


Over the last four decades, John Shafer, his son Doug, and their winemaker Elias Fernandez, have teamed together to form one of the most noteworthy of all Napa estates, especially for their glorious Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon, but also for Syrah and Chardonnay.


In 1994 Shafer Vineyards became one of the earliest converts to working exclusively with solar power in the Napa Valley. At Shafer, they view this as the next step in being green and environmentally conscious. The first step was practicing sustainable farming techniques at Shafer Vineyards.


This is one of the Napa Valley’s finest older still family owned wineries. They define the world quality in everything they do.


Premium wineries must have excellent vineyard sources; it also helps to have a winemaker who is intimately familiar with one’s own vineyards along with retaining key employees on the winemaking side of the operations.


All of these factors are sources of continuity and are a big reason why high-end wineries in the Napa Valley continue to produce premium wines regardless of the vintage.


Some of their wines are accompanied by interesting stories. One is called Relentless; this tasty Syrah is named after Elias and his relentless pursuit of perfection; the One Point Five is tribute to numerous wineries in which the 2nd generation takes over completely after the founding first generation retire – in this case, Doug is the .5 and John is the 1 as John never had to hand transition control of the winery since both have worked in tandem since the early years.


The Shafer Merlot tends to be a more robust wine then is commonly produced of this varietal yet at the same time features a structure that is fairly supple across the palate; it is completely in balance. The One Point Five showcases their Stags Leap District fruit, the flavors are rich and layered and lead to a finish of great length.


Doug co-authored a book in 2012 called A Vineyard in Napa. This excellent read is a detailed look at his father’s life and his decision to move his family across the country to start a new life and career.


It describes the Shafer story of their success, many of the ‘bumps’ in the road they faced over the years, their hard work and valuable contributions to the Napa wine world.