One of Napa's iconic wineries is changing hands. Doug Shafer, president of Shafer Vineyards, announced this morning that Shinsegae Property, a luxury brand firm based in Seoul, South Korea, with department stores, shopping centers, golf resorts, hotels and other interests, has acquired his family's winery. While neither side disclosed details, the price tag is a reported $250 million and includes 225 acres of vines. Shinsegae acquired the winery through its U.S. subsidiary Starfield Properties, lnc. Shafer winemaker Elias Fernandez and the core winemaking and vineyard staff will continue with the winery for the foreseeable future.
Doug Shafer, who also will stay on, said in a statement to longtime customers that he hopes the sale will allow him more time to explore projects and focus on the things that made him fall in love with the wine business.
"For those who are fans of our wines and our team, you'll see a continuation of everything you love about the winery," he said. "There may be some new things down the road that I think you will love and embrace as well."
John and Betty Shafer were pioneers in Napa's Stags Leap District when they purchased a rugged property with old, unkempt vines in 1972, transforming it into one of Napa's cornerstone estates. Today, its 225 acres of vines are spread over four ranches (two in Stags Leap District, one in Oak Knoll District and one in Carneros). The winery produces around 33,000 cases annually, with 85 percent hailing from those estate vines, a rarity in today's modern Napa. The winery's Relentless 2008 was Wine Spectator's 2012 Wine of the Year. John passed away in March 2019.
"It's been the privilege of a lifetime to have joined my dad here as winemaker in 1983 and to have taken over as president in 1994," said Shafer. "The Shafer hillside estate has been the site of grapegrowing and winemaking for more than 140 years, and it has been an incredible honor to act as the latest stewards of this land and to produce wine from the gifts these vineyards have given."
Shinsegae Property is one of Korea's major retail groups. In a statement, the company said executives plan to diversify its existing real-estate portfolio centered on domestic distribution and commercial facilities into high-quality overseas assets in developed countries.
"It's been a real pleasure to get to know their team, and I'm very excited about this new chapter for our vineyards and winery," said Shafer. "I have a lot of confidence in this new team. Their focus and the long-term focus at Shafer are very much in alignment—it's all about quality. Quality vineyards, quality wines, quality customer care. Shafer remains in good hands, and if my parents could be here for this moment, I know without question that they would agree."