The University of California Press will publish Doug Shafer’s winery memoir “A Vineyard in Napa,” with a foreword by Danny Meyer, in the fall of 2012.
“In the 40-year span since our family moved here and established our winery, we’ve seen Napa Valley transform from a rural backwater to one of the top wine-producing regions in the world,” said Doug Shafer, president of Shafer Vineyards. “The book gives a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s been like for our winery and our neighbors to ride the ups and downs of the past four decades. We’re referring to this as a winery memoir because the focus is more on the establishment of the vineyards, winery, wines and the appellation.”
Shafer’s father, John Shafer, purchased the family’s 209-acre vineyard in 1972 and the family moved from Chicago to Napa Valley early in 1973. Moving from a sprawling Midwestern city where he’d a been a top executive at the Scotts Foresman publishing company, John Shafer had to trade his three-piece suits for jeans and a pair of work boots to get a start in the grapegrowing business.
By the mid-1970s he began planting cabernet sauvignon on his hillside property and in 1978 harvested his first vintage of cabernet sauvignon. John Shafer released that initial wine in 1981 and Doug Shafer joined him at the shaky family-run enterprise as winemaker in 1983. Doug Shafer hired Elias Fernandez as his assistant winemaker in 1984.
“I think even people who know us well will be surprised, and maybe even stunned, by some of what we talk about in the book,” Doug Shafer said. “We had some extremely tough years and spent a long time on the thin line between success and failure. On top of that we owe a lot to some people who helped us along the way.”
Names who play a key role in “A Vineyard in Napa” are Louis P. Martini, Nathan Fay, Tony Soter, Warren Winiarski, Larry Hyde, Amigo Bob, Danny Meyer and Tom Colicchio.
The book sheds new light on Napa Valley life in the early 1970s, the difficulty of winning the American public over to red wine, the up-and-down jolts resulting from economic booms and busts, the creation of appellations including Stags Leap District, wild fire, the creation of Auction Napa Valley, the emergence of cult wines, the changes forced by phylloxera, and scrambling to keep up with the Internet.
The book’s foreword is written by New York restaurateur Danny Meyer, a long-time Shafer friend who, in the late 1990s, played a key role is helping Shafer formulate its own core values, a process Doug Shafer said played a vital role in the winery’s success.
“A Vineyard in Napa” was written with collaborator Andy Demsky, who has freelanced for Better Homes & Gardens magazine, Los Angeles Times Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle and is a former editor and columnist for the Napa Valley Register. In 2004 he produced Shafer’s “Line on Wine” book and today, among other projects, writes all the winery’s materials.
Shafer Vineyards is a 32,000-case winery in Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District managed by the father-and-son team of John and Doug Shafer. The Shafer family owns and farms 200 acres of vineyards, sources for Shafer’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot and Syrah.
For more information visit ShaferVineyards.com.