Happy Thanksgiving from all the students of the September 12-Week Cookery Course.
To celebrate Thanksgiving 2011, at Ballymaloe Cookery School, during one of the wine tastings with Peter and Colm, we featured some good Californian wine – we showed the students a Zinfandel from Beringer, in The Napa Valley.
A great event – one long table for 100 people ‘outstanding in the field’ in the Ballymaloe Cookery School gardens glasshouse- as close as possible to the source of the food, along with great company – and of course great wine to match.
We were delighted to welcome John Shafer, Shafer Vineyards, Napa Valley, California. www.shafervineyards.com It was the lure of wine country farming that inspired John Shafer in 1972 to make a career change, leaving behind 23 years of corporate experience to begin work in a new field. And in the fields, or rather the vineyards, is exactly where John began his new career. Adopting a hands-on approach from day one, John could be seen throughout the mid-70s riding on his tractor as he tilled the soil of his family’s new estate in the foothills of the Stags Leap Palisades.
After purchasing a 210-acre estate in Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District, the Shafer family faced the arduous task of replanting the existing vineyards, which dated to the 1920s, and terracing the steep and rocky hillsides, eventually expanding vineyard acreage to its current 50 acres.
It was during this period that he, along with his son Doug, learned the intricacies of hillside grapegrowing as they toiled many long hours terracing the hillsides, replanting and expanding the vineyards. With each passing year, they learned more about the nature of grapegrowing in the Stags Leap District, one of the world’s best regions for the cultivation of Cabernet Sauvignon. What began for John as a career in viticulture, quickly expanded into full-scale winemaking. In 1978, the first Shafer wine was made and a year later construction began on the family winery. The debut wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon, was released in 1981 to a chorus of high praise and awards, including a first place in the San Francisco Vintners Club Cabernet taste-off.
Over fifteen years later, this wine continues to prove its remarkable ageability, winning first place in a 1993 German blind tasting against great Bordeaux wines – such wines as Chateau Margaux, Chateau Latour and Chateau Palmer.
Photo attached – John Shafer, Jim Whelan and Colm