Shafer Vineyards Napa Valley Wines
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  • Visiting Shafer
  • Accessing Our Wines
  • Enjoying our Wines
  • Mail List Questions
  • Hillside Select
  • Misc.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Shafer open for tours and tasting?
Tasting visits are by appointment only. We host 10 or fewer guests for a relaxed, sit-down tasting once in the morning and once in the afternoon on weekdays (closed weekends and holidays.) The tasting visit is $55 per guest. For complete information please click here to view our tasting visit section.

When is the winery open?
Shafer is open for retail sales Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. We are closed weekends and holidays. Wines are tasted by appointment only.

Where is Shafer located?
Shafer is located at 6154 Silverado Trail, on the east side of the Silverado Trail, about seven miles north of Napa and 3/4 of a mile south of the Yountville Cross Road. Distance from San Francisco to Napa is approximately 50 miles. Click here for a map.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get on your mailing list?

Shafer maintains two direct mail lists: one for Hillside Select and one called our “Napa Valley List,” which offers the other wines in our portfolio.

The “Napa Valley List,” which makes available Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay, Merlot, One Point Five Cabernet Sauvignon and Relentless, is currently open. The “Hillside Select List” is closed, however, you can sign up for the Waiting List to be added as spots become available. To sign up for one or both of these lists, please click here.

How can I locate Shafer wines in my area?
Click here to locate Shafer wine in major U.S. markets or check out our list of domestic and international distributors.

Do you ship your wine?

Yes, to those whose names are active on one or both of our mailing lists or who purchase wine at the winery and live in states to which such shipments are legal. That list currently includes: Alaska (wet counties only), California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

The direct shipping issue continues to change as more and more states pass related legislation. Up-to-date information is available at

How Does Shafer Handle Wine Shipments During Summer?

Because of high temperatures, shipments of wine ordered during summer months may be delayed until fall. This is to protect your wine from heat damage, which can easily occur while sitting in a hot delivery truck.

In specific situations, however, we are able to ship via FedEx Cold Chain. This is a seasonal refrigerated transport solution that our fulfillment house has used with success. The wines are picked up at their facility in a temperature controlled truck, sorted, and consolidated at a temperature-controlled facility and then loaded onto temperature controlled line haul vehicles.

The truck, though, that delivers the wine from your local FedEx hub is not temperature controlled. Given that, we only ship via FedEx Cold Chain in areas where delivery is guaranteed by 10:30 AM (some areas cannot guarantee delivery until much later in the day).

For this method of delivery to be successful, there MUST be an adult available to receive and sign for the delivery on the specified day.  Shipping to a business address is preferable.

Also note, using the Cold Chain system takes some time, in most cases at least 10 days from the time your order is placed. The order must be in our fulfillment company’s system by Friday before noon for pick up by FedEx the following Friday. Delivery is made on either Tuesday or Wednesday following the FedEx Friday pickup.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can I age my Shafer wines?

Approximate number of years from vintage date Shafer considers optimum:

Optimum drinking Length of Aging
Red Shoulder Ranch® Chardonnay Release - 5 years
Merlot Release - 8 years
Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Release - 10 years
Relentless® Release - 15 years
Hillside Select® Cabernet Sauvignon Release - 20 years

Click here for the complete Hillside Select tasting notes.

Wines in larger format bottles age more slowly. Remember, all of Shafer's wines are made to be immediately drinkable upon release.

What’s the difference between Hillside Select and One Point Five?
Hillside Select is produced entirely from Cabernet Sauvignon fruit selected from vineyard blocks on the Hillside Estate Vineyards that surround the winery. One Point Five is sourced primarily from two Stags Leap District sites – the Hillside Estate Vineyards and Shafer’s “Borderline Vineyard,” a Shafer-owned 25-acre site located about two miles south of the winery. The two wines also diverge in terms of barrel regime and blend. Hillside Select ages three years in new French oak and is 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, while One Point Five ages 20 months in 100 percent new French oak and typically includes one to two percent of Petite Verdot.

What does the name One Point Five mean?
It’s meant to convey the importance of the father and son partnership that is the core of Shafer Vineyards. The family business story you hear most often is the second-generation tale, where a parent hands an established, profitable business over to a son or daughter. Things happened a little differently here. John started the winery in 1978 and released the first wine in 1981. Doug joined as winemaker just two years later, when the success of the winery was still not a foregone conclusion. They learned the winery business together, working so closely for so long they coined the term “a generation and a half” to describe their partnership. The One Point Five name plays off of that idea. This label is meant as a tribute to the Shafer commitment to family business and to Stags Leap District, our home of more than 40 years.

Is One Point Five available in 1.5 liter bottles?
While it might seem a natural to offer One Point Five in magnums, it will be available only in 750 and 375 ml bottles. That’s because the name focuses on the importance of family partnership rather than bottle size.

Where did the name Relentless come from?
We wanted to honor our winemaker Elias Fernandez, part of the Shafer team for more than 30 years, and his relentless pursuit of quality. No detail is too small. On bottling days he arrives at the winery at 5 a.m. and personally steam cleans every fitting and every hose that comes in contact with the wine. He inspects every oak barrel and mandates ultra-high quality from all our suppliers. To maintain quality in our corks he worked meticulously with our supplier to re-invent every step a cork makes from the cork forests of Portugal to their arrival on our doorstep. Our suppliers describe Elias as “disciplined,” “focused,” “extraordinarily organized,” “pain in the neck” and “very demanding.” In other words, relentless. This wine is a liquid testament to Elias’s outstanding skill, tenacity, and tireless quest for the best-of-the-best.

How did you come up with the name Red Shoulder Ranch?
The name is meant to honor our partners in the vineyard, who control the populations of moles and gophers – flying predators such as Red Shouldered Hawks, Red Tailed Hawks, American Kestrels, Golden Eagles and Barn Owls. As part of our long-term commitment to sustainable agriculture (since the late 1980s) we’ve erected hawk perches and owl nesting boxes to provide places from which these raptors can hunt the rodents who would otherwise eat young vine roots.

Does Shafer’s Chardonnay go through malolactic fermentation?
No. To preserve the wine’s natural acidity and true varietal character, our Chardonnay only undergoes primary fermentation in individual barrels. To achieve softness in the mouth, the wine ages on the lees.

What is wild yeast?
Wild yeast, or native yeast, grows naturally in the great out of doors. The yeasts from our Red Shoulder Ranch vineyard imparts complexity to the wine.

Which wine have you made the longest at Shafer?
It’s a tie. We’ve produced Hillside Select and Merlot since 1983.

Frequently Asked Questions

I want to visit Shafer soon. Is there anything special offered to mail list customers?
We are pleased to offer a special thank-you to those who are passionate Shafer supporters. If your name is currently active on our “Hillside Select list” and have purchased three or more bottles of your Hillside Select allocation in the past year, or if you have purchased six or more bottles of Shafer wine annually from our “Napa Valley list”* , then the tasting fee is waived for you and one member of your party for two tasting visits per year. (This courtesy is non-transferable.)

*The Napa Valley List offers the following Shafer wines each year: Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay, Merlot, One Point Five Cabernet Sauvignon, and Relentless.

How can I get on your mailing list?
Shafer maintains two direct mail lists: one for Hillside Select and one called our “Napa Valley List,” which offers the other wines in our portfolio.

The “Napa Valley List,” which makes available Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay, Merlot, One Point Five Cabernet Sauvignon and Relentless, is currently open. The “Hillside Select List” is closed, however, you can sign up for the Waiting List to be added as spots become available. To sign up for one or both of these lists, please click here.

When will my wine be shipped?
Our first commitment is to ensure your wine arrives in peak condition. As such while we work toward shipping soon after you order, weather can delay this process. During summer months if it’s possible to package your wine with cold packs to protect it from heat during shipping, we will do so. However, in periods of extreme heat scheduling your shipment for the cooler months of late autumn/early winter can be the best option. We are happy to work with you to achieve the best results.

If I’m active on Shafer’s “Napa Valley list” (Merlot, Relentless, One Point Five and Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay) can I order these wines throughout the year?
To remain active on the “Napa Valley list” you’ll need to purchase at least two bottles from our mail list program per year. However, we advise that you order your wine within four weeks of the release date; after that time the wine is often unavailable.

What if I don’t want to use Shafer’s online ordering system?
That’s no problem. We can take your order over the phone at the time we release the wine.

Once I order my Shafer wine, when is my credit card charged?
Your card is charged when we log your order into our system. 

If I don’t buy from Shafer’s “Napa Valley List” (Merlot, Relentless, One Point Five and Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay) will I be removed from the Hillside Select list? 
The two lists are separate. Your level of participation with one list has no effect on the other.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much Hillside Select does Shafer produce?
It varies from vintage to vintage. As the name suggests, we produce the wine from selected blocks of vines from our hillside vineyards. The production level has been as low as 1,800 cases, but is typically about 2,400 cases.

Will you be selling Hillside Select at the winery again this year?
Yes. As in years past, on August 31, 2015, we will make a small allocation of the newly released 2011 Hillside Select available for those who visit our tasting room (limit two bottles per adult purchaser). If you plan to visit the winery for this purpose, it’s advisable to stop by within the first week of the release date as this on-site allocation tends to sell through rapidly.

Why don’t you just plant more vineyards on your 209 acre ranch so that you can make more Hillside Select?
Much of our home vineyard site is simply too steep and lacks enough soil. The winery itself sits at the bottom of an amphitheater-like structure of hillsides and rocky palisades. We have to keep in mind issues of erosion and worker safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why don’t I see scores on the wine reviews listed on your site?
We’ve been fortunate to receive many great wine scores. However we believe that wine reviewers devote a lot of time and talent to weaving together mouthwatering sensory descriptions. We’d hate to see numbers take precedence over delicious descriptors such as roasted hazel nuts, pencil, citrus oils, saddle leather, oak, tobacco, and licorice. For us, that’s what wine is all about.

Where is Stags Leap District?
You’ll find the southern border of the District about six miles north of the town of Napa on Silverado Trail. If you keep going north you’ll leave the District about four minutes later at Yountville Crossroad. It’s only 1,300 acres planted mostly to Cabernet Sauvignon. There is no town here. Just grapes, wild turkeys, rattle snakes and a few homes and wineries here and there. It’s changed little since the Shafer family moved here in 1973.

What are the purple-tinted crystals that sometimes form on the bottom of the cork?
Those are tartrates, a natural component of grape juice and wine. Over time small amounts can crystallize on the bottom of the cork. The crystals are not only harmless but are the basis for cream of tartar, commonly used in baking.

Are Shafer wines vegan?
Yes. At no point in production do they come in contact with any animal products.

Do Shafer’s sustainable vineyard practices make a difference in the quality of the wine?
We believe they do. Cultivating grapes using sustainable farming has lead to an increase in the macronutrients in the newly crushed juice, such as nitrogen and amino acides. This creates cleaner fermentations and purer varietal flavors in the wine.

What should I do with a Shafer wine I think is corked
If you would like a replacement bottle we ask that you please send the bottle back with the majority of wine still inside. (If you send an empty bottle we have no way of evaluating the condition of the wine.) Once received, we will evaluate the wine and learn what we can of its condition. Over the years, based on bottles sent to us by customers, we have learned a great deal about steps we can take to avoid this problem altogether. If the wine is corked we will be happy to replace it. 

Why did Shafer switch to Diam corks in 2013 Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay?

What is a Diam cork?
A Diam cork is made from 100% real cork that is ground and run through a process that, at the molecular level, eliminates TCA (the chemical compound that causes wines to be “corked”) and other microbial contaminants that produce off flavors. Wine corks are produced in France from this clean ground cork using an FDA-approved, food-grade binding agent. For more details on the process visit this URL:

Why is Shafer using Diam corks?
We don’t want a single bottle of Shafer wine to be corked. Ever. Over the past 30 years we have gone to extraordinary lengths to eliminate the presence of TCA in the natural corks we used and have been 98% to 99% successful. That’s not good enough. We want to be 100% TCA-free and using this cork will get us there.

What do you like about Diam corks?
We have tested Diam corks in trials for seven years and have come to believe the company’s guarantee that its corks are 100 percent free of TCA. In addition, these corks offer something else that natural corks cannot – a guarantee of the amount of oxygen the cork allows into the bottle. This is referred to as Oxygen Transfer Rate (OTR). Natural corks, by contrast, have inconsistent density and permeability, which means a variable amount of oxygen is allowed into the bottle. Using a Diam cork ensures that your wine won’t be “over the hill” before its time.

Why are Diam corks used in your Chardonnay but not the other wines?
We have tested these corks for seven years and we like the results. Our Chardonnay is a wine that we know most consumers enjoy within two to three years of release. We continue to test these corks to see how they perform in terms of long-term aging. We won’t know those results for a few more years but given what we’ve seen so far, we expect to be using Diam corks in our red wines in the future.

How are Diam different from other composite corks?
Unlike other composite corks, Diam uses a safe, clean process to eliminate TCA from ground natural cork – it’s the same process used to remove caffeine from coffee beans. Also, Diam engineers its corks to guarantee a consistent rate at which oxygen is allowed into the bottle over time. This ensures that every bottle will age in your cellar at a similar rate.

Can Diam corks be recycled like natural corks?
Yes. Most corks collected in recycling bins are re-purposed to make cork flooring, as such, Diam is perfectly useful.

Can I trust the Diam corks in your wines?
Yes. We have tested these corks for seven years and would not use them it we did not fully believe they are what’s best for the wine.