Napa Valley viticulture was a different world in the 1970s, when Shafer acquired the neglected vineyards planted 50 years earlier by a farmer named Batista Scansi. White varietals sometimes grew side by side with red, modern trellising was unknown, and existing vineyards had been planted with little regard to what is now known about the relationship between terroir and varietal.
In the 1980s, Doug Shafer, John’s son, began a program of sustainable agriculture, planting native cover crops to offer cover to beneficial and predacious insects, control erosion, and serve as compost when the greens were turned into the soil at the end of their growing cycle. Above ground, Shafer erected hawk perches and barn owl boxes to attract birds of prey to naturally control unwanted rodents (this eliminated the need for rodent poisons). Each year, the thin soil of the hillside vineyards is enriched, and the reliance on chemicals in the vineyard is eliminated.
From the first vintage, the wine from the hillside vineyards showed the same intense fruit and velvety texture year after year. It was an expression of the land, a wine of a place, and it became Shafer’s signature wine, Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon.
The wine ages in new French oak barrels for 32 months prior to bottling and rests for another year in the bottle before it is ready for release. In the end only about 2,400 cases of Shafer’s signature wine are produced each year, offered on a limited basis to lovers of fine wine and to top restaurants and hotels in selected markets throughout the world.
2017 Hillside Select
“In the running for the wine of the vintage, the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is an incredible success and offers more depth opulence and purity than just about every other wine out there. Revealing a dense purple colour as well as a killer nose of blueberries chocolate covered cherries, scorched earth, tobacco, violets and exotic spices, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a seamless, pure, incredibly layered mouthfeel, building tannins, and a great, great finish. …..hats off to Doug Shafer and the team…” Jeb Dunnock, Wine Advocate 98 points. POA
2016 Hillside Select
The 2016 Hillside Select is a classic, balanced, powerful Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the rugged hillside vineyards in Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District. “The rich, densely packed, full-bodied palate is at once thrillingly hedonic and perfectly poised … tons of freshness, finishing epically long and with stunning opulence. Bravo!” — Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate POA
2015 Hillside Select
This rich, polished hillside Cabernet Sauvignon overflows with briary black fruit, juicy black cherry, racy dried cranberry, black licorice, and freshly cracked pepper with elegant touches of cedar, baking spice, and wet stone. The finish is generous and persistent, while the tannins are ripe and integrated offering both a pleasurable experience now and the kind of structure that promises even more beauty with time. Drink now – 20 years POA
Opens with an aromatic wave of deep, intense fruit and spices such as black plum, blackberry pie filling, cassis, and anise, along with nutmeg, dark toast, and dried rose pedals. The youthful energy in the nose is just as dramatic in the mouth with open, beautiful ripeness, mocha, briar fruit, pomegranate, baking spice, and ripe tannins that collectors will recognize as offering the promise of sensational things to come in the cellar. Drink now – 19 years POA