Let me start by saying that when I called Shafer for an appointment about five weeks before my trip the person who answered the phone laughed at me. She said they were booked up for over two months. I got on the waiting list for three different days.
That isn't how I got in.
I don't want to give away all the details but I will say that we completely got lucky. I was at another vineyard doing a tasting and by chance the guy who was doing the tasting happened to be married to someone who just so happened to work at Shafer. It was our very last day in California.
I begged, I groveled.
I told them I was a wine blogger.
THAT is how I got in.
That is also the exact minute I stopped being embarrassed to tell people that I blogged for a living.
People told me that Cakebread was the #1 place not to miss. I moved my appointment at Cakebread to go to Shafer.
I was not disappointed.
This is the tasting room.
As beautiful as this photograph is (my husband took this picture) it doesn't even do the room justice. The place was breath taking and the vineyard is 100% solar powered.
They gave us this:
That is five of their wines: the Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay, the 2007 Merlot, the 2006 One Point Five Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2006 Relentless (a Syrah and Petit Syrah blend) and the 2005 Hillside Select® Cabernet Sauvignon.
I know Chardonnay gets a bad rap as a shitty grape (we even saw t-shirts at Honig that said "Friends Don't Let Friends Drink Chardonnay") but this was the absolute best Chardonnay I've ever had.
And every glass of wine we tasted there was better than the last one.
Everything was exquisitely balanced.
Listen, we were in California for a week. The lowest end winery we hit was Sterling. We ate at The French Laundry and Cyrus and drank what was recommended to us. I drank a lot of wine last week and this wine was superior to every other thing I tasted.
I don't mean to gush, but DAMN!
If you ever want to buy a bottle of wine for a special occasion and you have $50 I highly recommend the Shafer Chardonnay or Merlot. I am not generally a fan of Merlot but in this case I make an exception. I would give up an entire week of football for this wine.
If you ever want to buy a bottle of wine for a special occasion and you have $70 the One Point Five and The Relentless are outstanding. I would wear a Rams t-shirt for the One Point Five Cabernet Sauvignon. I would wear a Kurt Warner jersey for a bottle of the Relentless.
For a bottle of the Hillside Select I would do unspeakable things.
I am talking about things that involve rooting for the Yankees.
The Shafer Hillside Select retails for $215 a bottle, assuming you can find it in a store. You might have to join the club to even have a chance to buy a bottle.
I joined the wine club. Hell, if there were some sort of Shafer cult I would have joined that too.
The wine was that good.