2021 Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay
This vintage is a celebration of the Chardonnay from our beautiful Red Shoulder Ranch® vineyard in Napa Valley’s Carneros District. Year after year this Shafer-owned vineyard offers up wine with plush, exotic, zesty aromas and flavors.
“The 2021 fills the glass with radiant, elegant aromas and flavors of melon, honeysuckle, apricot,
pineapple, and flint all held together with lithe structure, pitch-perfect balance, and energy that
comes from pure, elegant acidity.”
— Shafer winemaker Elias Fernandez
“I've always loved the Chardonnay from this team …” — Jeb Dunnuck
“This is a perennially impressive wine …” — Virginie Boone
Vintage and Production Notes
Release Date: September 1, 2022
Vineyard Location: Shafer’s Red Shoulder Ranch in Carneros
The 2021 Growing Season: The sunny 2021 summer offered endless stretches of warm days and cool nights. By early September our cool Carneros vineyards reached ideal ripeness, ushering in a harvest of bright, gorgeous fruit.
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: $60
Video: Celebrating the Beauty 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.