2017 Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay
“The 2017 offers lush, luxurious aromas and flavors of melon, honeysuckle, apricot, pineapple and flint all held together with effortless structure, elegant balance, and energy that comes from pure, Chablis-like acidity.”
— Shafer winemaker Elias Fernandez
Vintage and Production Notes
Release Date: March 1, 2019
Vineyard Location: Shafer’s Red Shoulder Ranch in Carneros
The 2017 Growing Season: A lengthy, warm summer allowed the fruit to hang in near ideal conditions for a long, long time producing clusters of fruit with vivid color, enticing flavors, and unrivaled aromas.
Varietal Composition: 100% Chardonnay
Brix at Harvest: 22.8° – 25.0°
Fermentation: Whole-cluster pressed and fermented with wild yeast in individual barrels (75% oak, 25% stainless steel); 0% malolactic fermentation
Cooperage: 14 months in 75% new French oak barrels (Allier, Vosges) and 25% in stainless steel barrels
Suggested CA Retail: $52
Video: Celebrating 20 years of Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay
In our new video Doug Shafer takes you to the vineyard where it all begins to show where the beauty in the bottle comes from.
Red Shoulder Ranch Story
Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay is a wine that bears the elegant imprint of its vineyard home – 68 acres that roll across the pastoral hill country of Los Carneros, a place where Napa Valley meets the northernmost rim of San Francisco Bay. The vineyard is named to honor the Red-shouldered Hawks and other birds of prey that play a vital role in our sustainable farming practices (in this case keeping gopher and other rodent populations naturally under control).
Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay is a wine that bears the elegant imprint of its vineyard home – 68 acres that roll across the pastoral hill country of Los Carneros, a place where Napa Valley meets the northernmost rim of San Francisco Bay.
Cooled by the marine breezes off the Bay, the region has a long, steady growing season well-suited to growing superior quality Chardonnay.
The vineyard is named to honor the Red-shouldered Hawks who, along with other birds of prey, play a vital role in our sustainable farming practices. We’ve made their hunting a bit easier by erecting tall perches throughout the property. The local hawks and kestrels reward us for this by keeping the population of vine-damaging gophers naturally under control so no rodent poisons are ever needed, keeping our vines and soils healthy.
The vineyard is planted to five clones of Chardonnay, chosen for their small clusters, low yields, and for the rich, alluring flavors and textures each brings to the finished wine. At harvest, the grapes are 100% whole cluster pressed, and the juice is fermented entirely on wild yeast in individual 60-gallon barrels. Seventy-five percent of the barrels are new French oak, 25% are stainless steel.
The maturing Chardonnay is kept on the lees a full 15 months, the lees stirred weekly to add a creamy richness to the wine. The crisp, enticing acidity of this Chardonnay speaks to the fact that the wine does not go through malolactic fermentation.
In the early days of Shafer Vineyards, the winery’s Chardonnay was grown on the Shafer property in Stags Leap District. While the response to those first wines was positive, the Shafer team believed they could do better.
In 1988 John and Doug Shafer discovered a new home for Chardonnay in the Carneros region of Napa Valley and purchased the property, naming it Red Shoulder Ranch. After a lengthy, painstaking period of development and planting, they harvested their first fruit in 1994. Tasting the ‘94 Chardonnay barrel lots in the spring of 1995 Doug Shafer, winery president, and Elias Fernandez, winemaker, were very pleased at the depth of fruit in the wine — so much fruit that the Chardonnay called for further barrel aging beyond the typical eight months.
The 1994 Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay debuted with considerable acclaim even being named one of the Top 10 Wines of the Year by Wine Spectator. After numerous vintages since, this elegant, rich white wine continues to win over critics and consumers alike with its blend of exotic and elegant aromas and flavors.
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