ONCE UPON A TIME, there was this great businessman from Chicago who decided to put all his assets and work into a winery in Napa. He had a talented son and a talented worker, who became friends and joined the man at the winery to produce wine. With time, a lot of work and talent, effort, bad and good times and passion for wine, they were able to spend their next 30 years working together to become one of the best wineries in California: Shafer.
This is a real story and is the story of John Shafer, his son Doug, and Elias Fernandez the winemaker of Shafer Vineyards.
Says Doug Shafer, president of Shafer Vineyards: "There's a million little details in a bottle of wine, but this has been our passion for more than 30 years. Our goal, more than to grow (just under 30,000 cases annually) has been to achieve quality and keep it!"
Indeed, it is a work of art and science to work along with Mother Nature and make wine. Elias Fernandez, one of the few and earliest Latinos to become a winemaker, was literally raised among vines while his parents worked the vineyards.
He is now the winemaker at Shafer, and adds: "John Sr. (Doug's dad) has allowed us to make mistakes, experiment, learn, get some good and some bad results. That has taught us to make better decisions."
Shafer is a one-of-a-kind winery, with the right size to be a profitable business and at the same time, small enough to maintain the family-oriented and passionate style of work from everyone working there.
"We have seen an evolution in the wine industry and we think it has a bright future," says Doug Shafer.
"And technology has helped a lot too. It is happening already, for we are starting to see technology for water needs for vines and locations for potential vineyards, just to name a few," adds Elias Fernandez.
"Competition is hard," Doug Shafer says. "We try to stay on top in every single aspect, but it is not easy.
At the same...