It was the lure of wine country farming that inspired John Shafer in 1972 to make a career change, leaving behind 23 years of corporate experience to begin work in a new field. And in the fields, or rather the vineyards, is exactly where John began his new career. Adopting a hands-on approach from day one, John could be seen throughout the mid-70s riding on his tractor as he tilled the soil of his family’s new estate in the foothills of the Stags Leap Palisades.
Shafer Wines at JN Wine
It was during this period that he, along with his son Doug, learned the intricacies of hillside grapegrowing as they toiled many long hours terracing the hillsides, replanting and expanding the vineyards. With each passing year, they learned more about the nature of grapegrowing in the Stags Leap District, one of the world’s best regions for the cultivation of Cabernet Sauvignon
In 1978, the first Shafer wine was made and a year later construction began on the family winery. The debut wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon, was released in 1981 to a chorus of high praise and awards, including a first place in the San Francisco Vintners Club Cabernet taste-off. Over fifteen years later, this wine continues to prove its remarkable ageability, winning first place in a 1993 German blind tasting against first growth Bordeaux wines.
Spearheading a family effort, John sets the tone for Shafer Vineyards through his casual style. A visitor to the winery will most often encounter John striding through the winery, clad in blue jeans and boots with Tucker, the family dog, in tow.