Our property has been the site of grape growing and winemaking since 1880, during Napa Valley’s first boom as an American wine country. Napa’s pioneer vintners not only filled San Francisco’s wine cellars, but shipped wine across the country and earned gold medals at the 1889 Paris Exposition.
Even during Prohibition (1919 – 1931), when all wine production was essentially outlawed in the U.S., our property continued without interruption as the site of grape-growing (and we’re told a bit of secret wine was made here) by Batista and Maria Scansi, immigrants from Carlazzo, Italy.
John Shafer, a Chicago publishing executive, purchased our site in 1972 and spent the mid-1970s planting the hillside estate to Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1978 John transitioned to full-scale winemaking, making the winery’s first Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1983 John’s son, Doug Shafer, joined the winery as winemaker. The following year, Elias Fernandez joined the winery, initially as assistant winemaker.
During the following decades this team created Hillside Select and forged the trademark Shafer style of elegance, richness, and balance. In 1994 Elias earned the title of winemaker and in 2002 was named Food & Wine’s “Winemaker of the Year.” The following year he was fêted at the White House as a leader in the Latino community. Countless other honors have followed.
Today, Elias Fernandez is celebrating 40 harvests on this property. Shafer Vineyards is known as one of Napa Valley’s most celebrated historic wineries, year after year producing wines that create delicious, memorable moments wherever they are poured around the world.
As the current stewards of this land, we take inspiration from nearly 150 years of our passionate and gifted predecessors, who saw the rich promise of this site, cared for it meticulously, and preserved its beauty and power for future generations.