Shafer Winery and Vineyards Visit

Set against the backdrop of Stags Leap Palisades lays Shafer Vineyards established by John Shafer in 1973 and is now in the guiding hands of his son, Doug Shafer.  We visited their new tasting room that looks down on the vineyards along with the 14 small Hillside Select blocks that surround the winery on the east side.  This rugged terrain has produced many 100 point wines!







Upon arrival we were greeted with a glass of 2018 Albarino from their Carneros vineyards, refreshing with notes of citrus flavors! We were then escorted into the tasting room with (5) of Shafer’s finest wines to taste and compare and learn about:

2017 Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay from Carneros region.  I’m not big on white wines but this one really catches your taste buds.  This wine see 14 months in a combination of 75% oak and 25% stainless steel which gives the wine it’s creamy mouth feel.

2017 TD-9 whose grapes are sourced within a 2 mile radius of the winery and in honor of the TD-9 tractor John acquired with the property. This blend of 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 62% Merlot and 20% Malbec definitely meets my approval!  They aged the blend for 20 months in new French oak.   I continually revisited this glass of wine in fact we had to take two bottles home with us!

2016 One Point Five from the Stags Leap District, name in honor of the years of John and Doug’s partnership in the family business (one and half generations).  This is one of the only two Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignons that Shafer offers!  The grapes are sources from the Hillside Estate vineyards as well as the Borderline vineyard at the southern end of Stags Leap District.  The wine is age from 20 to 22 months in new French oak.  Dark inky in color with aromas of ripen dark fruits (black cherries, berries and plums) with hints of espresso and toasty vanilla.  Well structure with balance tannins, acidity and fruit that roll across the palate ever so smooth!  The finish is exceptional but this is a wine meant to age for 5 to 10 years, it will only get better!

2016 Relentless, a blend of 90% Syrah and 10% Petite Sirah (named after Elias Fernandez his relentless pursuit for quality).  The blend spends 30 months in new French oak barrels with deep ruby colors giving way to just a hue of purple.  Powerful flavors of dark fruit with hints of dark chocolate and spicy notes that leads to silky feel across the palate and long finish!  This wine is both bold, not in your face and delicate touch that brings you back for more!

2015 Hillside Select, Shafer Vineyards signature wine!  This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon has scored higher than any other single source vineyard for the last 20 years!  The wine is dark ruby in color with some purple along the edges with aromas of black fruits (cherries, berries and plums) with hints of dark chocolate.  The tannins and acidity are medium plus and balance quite well with the fruits.  It has a tight feel across the palate that will soften with age and the finish is long, long and long!  This truly is a wine that needs time in the bottle as in 5 years it be good, in 10 years it will be oh so much better!

The Shafer vineyards is rich with history, from 1880s to 1973 when John Shafer purchased the property, going from commuter train to driving a TD-9 tractor!  Talk about a 180, but it has been nothing but a labor of love for the Shafer’s that can be passed down from generation to generation!  We had a chance to meet Doug and he gave me a signed copy of his book, “A Vineyard in Napa”.  It’s a great read, Thanks Doug!!

You can also catch his new podcast series “The Taste with Doug Shafer … about people behind the food and wine you love.” We find it very enjoyable and entertaining. – Jim



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Grgich Hills Estate Merlot 2015

On our last trip to Napa Valley, we were invited to Grgich Hills during their celebration of the “Judgement in Paris 1976” when Miljenko “Mike” Grgich shocked the world with his crafted 1973 Chardonnay from Chateau Montelena that beat the world! We visited this winery and enjoyed food paired with their outstanding wines.

My favorite was the 2015 Merlot that was so good, I had to take a few bottles home. What a mouthwatering wine, full fruit forward that just rolled across the palate like velvet! The finish was to die for! We give this wine 4 glasses!


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Silverado Club Red 2015

The leaves are changing colors and the nights are getting cooler.
During our Merlot Month celebration, we opened up a Silverado Club Red 2015.

This blend of 74% Merlot and 24% Cabernet Sauvignon was perfect to warm our souls. As always with Merlot, nice black fruit aromas with hints of chocolate that gives a mouthwatering feeling as it rolls gently over the palate ending with a nice finish!

This is a perfect wine to enjoy with a Thanksgiving meal. This wine may be hard to find since it is only offered to Silverado club members.

We highly recommend this crowd pleaser and give this 4 glasses!

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Charles Krug Family Reserve Generations 2014

We pulled out one of our favorite wines over the weekend, Charles Krug Family Reserve Generations 2014.  This is a flagship wine for Charles Krug. We had the pleasure of visiting Charles Krug back in June and enjoyed this wonderful wine as we walked around the beautiful property. This is definitely a winery you need to visit when you go to Napa!

We opened this up in the afternoon as the heat of the day disappeared and the nice coastal breeze started to flow.  After decanting for a couple hours, we were greeted with flavors of black berries, cherries and plums with hints of chocolate and vanilla. You talk about a balanced wine, the tannins and acidity balanced perfectly with the fruity flavors. Made with 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petite Verdot, 4% Merlot and 3% Malbec aged 20 months in new French oak. This mouth-watering red blend rolled like velvet across the palate with a very nice long finish! It was perfect to enjoy with our wonderful sunsets!

I easily give this wine 4 glasses! 

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Merryvale Petite Sirah 2016

We recently opened up a bottle of 2016 Merryvale Petite Sirah from Juliana Vineyard of Pope Valley. Did you know that Pope Valley is the largest producer of grapes for Napa Valley wines? It is not a separate AVA, it is considered Napa Valley. So wine growers can source their grapes from Pope Valley vineyards and call it Napa Valley. The grapes coming from Pope Valley make some great wines!

After decanting for a couple of hours, we were treated to a wonderful wine with aromas of blackberries, blueberries and cherries and very jammy! The Petite Sirah was just getting started, the jammy aromas turned into jammy fruit forward but not overwhelming but the velvety softness of the wine as it rolled across the palate was just awesome! It had a really nice finish! Thank goodness we only had one bottle of this wine or the second one would have been gone too!  I give this 4 glasses!

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Alpha Omega Proprietary Red 2013

What’s better than a nice 2013 Proprietary Red Blend from Alpha Omega, prosciutto, Manchego cheese, and Spanish Marcona almonds! We also had some Sicily’s Castelvetrano olives but Jim ate all of them so we had none for the picture – Thanks Jim!

We decanted the AO blend for about one and half hours and the results were amazing! The aromas were intense with dark cherries, black currants with a hint of chocolate. The best was the mouthfeel that this wine gives you when you let the wine sit for a few seconds, then slowly let it flow over your palate. The dark berries explode and the finish — the best I’ve had since I last tasted a Caymus, that good!

This wine is 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot and 7% Cabernet Franc, aged for 22 months in 70% new French oak and 30% 1 year old French oak. It comes from Beckstoffer To Kalon, Beckstoffer, Missouri Hopper, Beckstoffer Las Piedras, Sacrashe, Sunshine Valley, Stagecoach, Newton and Lyons vineyards. We are talking about some of the blue chip vineyards in Napa Valley! WOW!

I give this wine 4 glasses!

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Brunello di Montalcino

We went for a wine tasting at our local wine shop, Bird Rock Fine Wines, and enjoyed an absolutely wonderful Brunello di Montalcino. This 2013 Gaja Pieve Santa Restituta Brunello di Montalcino wine had an elegant ruby color that did not disappoint us. It has wonderful aromas of cherries, blackberries, and strawberries with a wonderful hint of vanilla that teases you! The bold tannins and acidity aftertaste really enhance the fruit forward as it rolls ever so gently over the palate with a VERY long finish. The wine will pair well with Italian beef and chicken dishes.  How about that elegant label?

We give this wine 4 glasses. 

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Miner Family  2016 Emily Cabernet Sauvignon

My wife surprised me with a Miner Family  2016 Emily Cabernet Sauvignon. I let this wine sit in the wine cooler for a few weeks. Don’t know if other people have had issues with opening wine after shipping, but I’ve found the Cabs need a few weeks to recover from shipping. Maybe it’s me, but I’ve noticed it really helps the wine to settle down. .

Anyhow, Emily’s wine is from four vineyards, Stagecoach, Buselli, Schein and Miner vineyards. It’s 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot that has aromas of black fruits (blackberries, blueberries with a hint of chocolate/vanilla in the background. A nice balance of tannins and acidity that helps the fruity forward as it rolls across the palate with hints of coffee coming to a nice finish, not long but not short either. This needs a few more years in the cellar to reach it’s potential. I’m not saying it’s not good now, but I get this feeling that it needs more time.

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Intrinsic Red Blend 2017

It’s the weekend and you know what that means … it’s time to treat yourself to a good wine! We have it right here with a red blend from Columbia Valley! This Intrinsic 2017 blend of 51% Malbec and 49% Cabernet Franc aged for 9 months in an unique way, Cabernet Franc on Malbec skins and Malbec on Cabernet Franc skins! Winemaker Juan Munoz-Ocabhas hit the bullseye with this blend with dark purple in color, aromas of blueberries and blackberries with a hint of vanilla! We recommend that you decant for 2 hours to really enjoy the fruit forward that rolls across the tongue with a long finish! This wine just got better with each sip! We paired this with Carne Asada and it was perfect! I give this wine 3 glasses. 

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Koi Zen Cellars Baby B2 2017

We had the pleasure of tasting a local San Diego winery, Koi Zen Cellars in Carmel Mountain. The 2017 Baby B2 is a Bordeaux style blend of 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Malbec and 26% Cabernet Franc. Cabernet rules!

We popped the cork and let the wine decant for two hours, tasting it at 30 min intervals just in case it was ready to drink early, you never know. With each half hour sample the wine started to open up with the fruity aromas of black fruit, blueberries, blackberries and black currant.

Now we get a chance to let the taste buds take over! Fruit forward, juicy fruit that lingers the whole time as the wine rolls over your palate. The finish is long with just a hint of vanilla. This wine has the characteristic of Paso Robles wines that make them just enjoyable to drink with no restrictions. I feel that this wine will be even better in 2-3 years when the tannins relax and juicy fruit mellows, then boy oh boy, you have a killer Bordeaux blend!

We suggest that you make time on your busy weekend to relax for a couple of hours and enjoy some of the amazing wines being produced in San Diego by Koi Zen Cellars.

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