Long-time Winery Owner and Innovator Left His Mark on Wine Industry and Napa Valley Charities
The Shafer family is deeply saddened to announce the death of their father, longtime vintner, philanthropist and winery founder, John Shafer on March 2, 2019.
“The world of wine always inspired Dad and he loved nothing more than to work with the Shafer team to improve quality, enhance everything we do, and to discuss future projects,” says Doug Shafer, president, Shafer Vineyards, who worked with his father since 1983. “He also loved Napa Valley, worked to make it a better place for everyone, and we’re receiving amazing messages from a huge number of people whose lives he touched with his generous spirit.”
I reviewed the Shafer Vineyards 2015 TD-9 last year and enjoyed it so much, I had to do a vintage update. One of the things I love (besides the taste) is the story behind the name.
At 50 years old, John Shafer left his business shoes and commuter trains behind in Chicago, trading them in for a pair of boots and a TD-9 tractor. Without a green thumb to speak of, he picked up his family and purchased his first piece of Napa Valley property. On that property were old sheds and ancient farming equipment — among them an International Harvester tractor from the 1950s. One of his first challenges was learning how to drive the rickety old beast — but he loved every moment of it.
I can very much relate to this story: shifting gears, changing trajectory — that’s really what life is all about isn’t it. And when you find success in that new direction, so much the better. So cheers to you, John, and the Napa Valley legend you created by making that decision.
Abariño? Yes, please! That’s kind of my attitude every time I see the Spanish white wine on the menu. Indeed, every time I do see it on a menu, it is a wine hailing from the motherland. So when I opened up my delivery from Eighty Four wines (a side project by Elias Fernandez and Doug Shafer of Shafer Vineyards — read more about the Eighty Four Wines project here) and saw an Albariño from one of the most esteemed Napa-based producers, I was delighted, excited, and suddenly quite thirsty…
Napa Valley Malbec. Yes, that’s right. Malbec that is grown and produced in Napa Valley. Is this new to you? It’s new to me — and a welcome new addition to my wine portfolio it is. And who better than to introduce this unique 100% varietal wine than the esteemed team from Shafer Vineyards — Elias Fernandez, winemaker for Shafer Vineyards, Doug Shafer, owner and proprietor. Eighty Four wines is a side project of the two longtime friends who’ve been working together since 1984.
The first few years were challenging – experimenting, working long hours, learning from our mistakes, pushing ourselves to make the best wines we could. They were exciting years. This wine represents two friends going full circle – making wine together, trying new things, doing what we love. That’s the spirit of Eighty Four. – Elias Fernandez & Doug Shafer
I consider it an honor to be able to taste what Shafer creates. I had no idea when I first came into contact with them what kind of high-caliber wine experiences I was about to embark on. From the TD-9 Bordeaux blend to the Relentless Syrah — not to mention the Hillside Select I’m selfishly cellaring for a special occasion. Well, when I shared my last two experiences, there was an overwhelming response about how much people have enjoyed Shafer over the years — each vintage providing a unique experience. But one comment captured my attention: a recommendation to try Shafer Vineyard’s Chardonnay. I am pleased to say I was able to do so. Here is my story…