Shafer Vineyards

By grace.g.yang ยท January 25, 2016
Under: California,Napa Valley,Wine

The last vineyard we visited during our trip to Napa was Shafer Vineyards, a winery we’ve been looking forward to visiting for quite some time. The winery isn’t open during the weekends, so you have to be lucky enough to be visiting Napa during the week AND Shafer has to be available for appointments. We realized that winter time is the best time to visit Napa – the weather is very mild (although it rained right when we left) and some of the better vineyards have more openings (Far Niente, another vineyard we’ve been looking forward to visiting, had been booked the last two visits we had to the area).

Shafer Vineyards was opened by a man who worked in the Illinois suburbs (in publishing) and then decided to move his family out to Napa while the kids were in high school because he had read that if you wanted to have a second career, you need to get started before you turn 50. The wines at Shafer are all exceptional so it worked out for the Shafer’s; his kids work for the winery in some capacity (one is a lawyer that helps trademark their wines, another is a winemaker, and one of his daughters grows grapes and sells them to multiple wineries in the valley). While all of the wines are delicious, they might be most well known for their 100% cabernet sauvignon, Hillside Select. One bottle of Hillside Select will set you back $250 (the same price as Opus One), but you can only purchase it if you go in person or if you’re on their mailing list (which has a waitlist – it’s one in, one out at this point).

We tried all of their wines during our tasting:


Starting with the chardonnay, then the merlot, the one point five, Relentless, and we finished with the Hillside Select. We enjoyed all of the wines but purchased a bottle of the Relentless because we liked it so much. The name comes from their winemaker, Elias Fernandez, who has a relentless drive for perfection in his winemaking. He was a classmate of Doug Shafer at UC Davis and was hired soon after graduation because of his ability to make great wines.

We brought home the Relentless (and couldn’t wait to drink it so we had it on New Year’s Eve with my family) and were about to purchase the Hillside Select, but decided against it at the last minute because we already purchased the Opus One on the previous visit.

One funny thing that happened during our tasting – the tasting had about 8 people (including us). One couple brought along some food – chips (okay) and packaged lunch meat (also okay, except for the fact that they were placing it in their mouth the way a kid would eat a long piece of fruit by the foot; she pulled the turkey apart into one long piece of meat, tilted her head back, and chewed with her mouth open while the hostess was going over the notes of the wine). It’s totally okay to bring food with you when you go on a tasting because it’s a lot of wine in a short amount of time, but you should usually not make a huge deal of it/places usually offer some cheese and crackers! It got better, though, because the woman was mad that she couldn’t purchase Hillside Select because she’s still on the waiting list and the man she was sitting next to got on the list over 20 years ago and continues to receive his shipments; the hostess said people usually don’t opt out of the list (unless they die) and the woman told the lucky man that she should get off the list so she could get on! I mean, it would be kind of funny if she were kidding, but she said it with a straight face.

We ended with a nice dessert wine and dark chocolates with a dried tart cherry – it was so delicious and a great way to end our very interesting wine tasting at Shafer!

Add a Comment

required, use real name
required, will not be published
optional, your blog address

Next Post:
Previose Post: