Shafer 2020

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Arnold Caplan
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Shafer 2020

#1 Post by Arnold Caplan »

Dear Shafer friend,

After 40 years in the wine business, we’ve gotten used to the fact that Mother Nature throws down some challenges. This year it wasn’t rain, heat, cold, insects or any of the usual issues. It was fire and smoke.

As you may know many of our neighbors in the northern part of the Valley have been affected by wildfires that started on Sunday morning; most wineries are fine, fortunately, but some of them have been damaged and a few will need to be rebuilt completely. We look forward to working with them, and the rest of the community, to recover and move forward preserving the beauty and well-being of our home here.

Thanks to the many of you who’ve called or emailed asking about Shafer. The winery is in the clear. Our staff is safe and their homes and families are in good shape.

There is another issue though related to smoke and the future of Shafer’s 2020 vintage that we need to share with you.

For quite a number of days in August and September smoke from fires throughout the state settled in our vineyards and was absorbed by the fruit. As a result, while our Cabernet, Syrah, and Chardonnay has been beautiful to look at, we’ve had to make a heartbreaking decision – we cannot harvest the 2020 vintage because we cannot guarantee to you that the wine will be of the very highest quality.

Smoke taint is a tricky adversary. You never know when it will emerge. It can show itself during fermentation, months later in the barrel, or even years later in the bottle. At no point in our history have we ever sold a bottle of wine we didn’t believe was the best that we could produce. This decision is a continuation of that commitment.

Please understand that this is solely a Shafer decision based on our fruit. There is simply no playbook for this. Everyone has to make the best judgement call they can based on their specific circumstances. We have only the highest regard, respect, and compassion for everyone involved in this situation, who like us are figuring out their next steps.

We hope we can count on your continued support and look forward to many more great vintages to come.

Warm regards,
Doug Shafer
2016 WOTY
2003 Schrader Beckstoffer To-Kalon
2015 WOTY
2002 Harlan Estate
2014 WOTY
2007 Saxum JBV
2013 WOTY:
2005 Saxum James Berry Rocket Block
2012 WOTY:
1996 Salon
2011 WOTY:
2006 Marcassin Chardonnay

Your are what you drink.

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Re: Shafer 2020

#2 Post by Juliec »

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Last edited by Juliec on October 1st, 2020, 10:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Shafer 2020

#3 Post by crickey »

I got the same email. That sucks.
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Re: Shafer 2020

#4 Post by Randy Meyer »

I would agree that it sucks on so many fronts, be it the winery or as consumers. Nevertheless, I have the highest admiration for Shafer and all of the wineries that have a passion for producing the best product possible and given the uncertainty of the effects of smoke have chosen not to make wine. It speaks volumes and provides assurance that my support of Shafer over 20+ years has not been in vain.

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Re: Shafer 2020

#5 Post by JohnP »

Love Shafer wines and love Doug's podcast! Freaking terrible to read that. Glad to know they will not compromise the integrity of their wines. Just popped a 2016 Hillside Select and it's mind-blowing! Show your support, buy their wines!
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Re: Shafer 2020

#6 Post by Chris Atkins »

My friend is going to pop open a 2010 Hillside Select for us in October. Do you think it will be mind blowing?

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Re: Shafer 2020

#7 Post by Keith_B »

So does this mean all their neighbors would be in a similar position related to smoke taint? I wonder if this puts them in a tough position relative to the market perception - Quixote, Stags' Leap, Robert Sinskey Cliff Lede for instance all nearby. I'm a member at Cliff Lede and buy a couple cases per year from Stags' Leap so mainly curious about wineries I spend a fair amount of money with and enjoy supporting.
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Re: Shafer 2020

#8 Post by Chris H. »

Chris Atkins wrote: September 30th, 2020, 5:51 pm My friend is going to pop open a 2010 Hillside Select for us in October. Do you think it will be mind blowing?
I had a 2012 on August 29th, and it was drinking really well, it only improved after a few hours in the decanter (after a few glasses consumed with friends). Plenty of time left, and just losing a little of the baby fat, and becoming an integrated wine, that will go for years, and years.
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Re: Shafer 2020

#9 Post by Ken Strauss »

Big Shafer fan.
I have been buying since 2001.
Received this email and felt so sad.
"Explaining is not supporting."

"Independence is a state of mind"

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Andrew W.
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Re: Shafer 2020

#10 Post by Andrew W. »

Keith_B wrote: September 30th, 2020, 6:23 pm So does this mean all their neighbors would be in a similar position related to smoke taint? I wonder if this puts them in a tough position relative to the market perception - Quixote, Stags' Leap, Robert Sinskey Cliff Lede for instance all nearby. I'm a member at Cliff Lede and buy a couple cases per year from Stags' Leap so mainly curious about wineries I spend a fair amount of money with and enjoy supporting.
I think that's why he wrote

"Please understand that this is solely a Shafer decision based on our fruit. There is simply no playbook for this."

Which I thought was very classy of him and a nod that this shouldn't be broadly applied to nearby wineries.
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Re: Shafer 2020

#11 Post by Chris Seiber »

Andrew W. wrote: September 30th, 2020, 8:51 pm
Keith_B wrote: September 30th, 2020, 6:23 pm So does this mean all their neighbors would be in a similar position related to smoke taint? I wonder if this puts them in a tough position relative to the market perception - Quixote, Stags' Leap, Robert Sinskey Cliff Lede for instance all nearby. I'm a member at Cliff Lede and buy a couple cases per year from Stags' Leap so mainly curious about wineries I spend a fair amount of money with and enjoy supporting.
I think that's why he wrote

"Please understand that this is solely a Shafer decision based on our fruit. There is simply no playbook for this."

Which I thought was very classy of him and a nod that this shouldn't be broadly applied to nearby wineries.
Exactly. Classy, but also deliberately avoiding being judgy or throwing any shade.

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Re: Shafer 2020

#12 Post by Alex N »

Chris H. wrote: September 30th, 2020, 6:46 pm
Chris Atkins wrote: September 30th, 2020, 5:51 pm My friend is going to pop open a 2010 Hillside Select for us in October. Do you think it will be mind blowing?
I had a 2012 on August 29th, and it was drinking really well, it only improved after a few hours in the decanter (after a few glasses consumed with friends). Plenty of time left, and just losing a little of the baby fat, and becoming an integrated wine, that will go for years, and years.
I have a 2012 HHS as the only bottle of Shafer in my wine collection. How long would you hold based on your Aug impressions, if you had one left?
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Re: Shafer 2020

#13 Post by Chris Seiber »

Alex N wrote: September 30th, 2020, 9:48 pm
Chris H. wrote: September 30th, 2020, 6:46 pm
Chris Atkins wrote: September 30th, 2020, 5:51 pm My friend is going to pop open a 2010 Hillside Select for us in October. Do you think it will be mind blowing?
I had a 2012 on August 29th, and it was drinking really well, it only improved after a few hours in the decanter (after a few glasses consumed with friends). Plenty of time left, and just losing a little of the baby fat, and becoming an integrated wine, that will go for years, and years.
I have a 2012 HHS as the only bottle of Shafer in my wine collection. How long would you hold based on your Aug impressions, if you had one left?
I think they are wines that stay very open. Now would be fine, and probably safely to 15+ years from now.

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Re: Shafer 2020

#14 Post by Andy Sc »

Chris Atkins wrote: September 30th, 2020, 5:51 pm My friend is going to pop open a 2010 Hillside Select for us in October. Do you think it will be mind blowing?
It needs at least 6-7 hours in the decanter - the day before consumption!
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Re: Shafer 2020

#15 Post by Chris H. »

Alex N wrote: September 30th, 2020, 9:48 pm
Chris H. wrote: September 30th, 2020, 6:46 pm
Chris Atkins wrote: September 30th, 2020, 5:51 pm My friend is going to pop open a 2010 Hillside Select for us in October. Do you think it will be mind blowing?
I had a 2012 on August 29th, and it was drinking really well, it only improved after a few hours in the decanter (after a few glasses consumed with friends). Plenty of time left, and just losing a little of the baby fat, and becoming an integrated wine, that will go for years, and years.
I have a 2012 HHS as the only bottle of Shafer in my wine collection. How long would you hold based on your Aug impressions, if you had one left?
Frankly, I would decant it at least 3-4 hours, or slow-ox in the morning for dinner service. For us, it only improved throughout the night, no shutting down, no falling flat. I think it's probably part of the 2012 vintage, and quality winemaking/fruit.
H a r r i s

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