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Entrepreneur Shafer Learned from Sweet Serendipitous Mistake



(p. 24) John Shafer, who abandoned a career as a Chicago publishing executive to join the vanguard of a new generation of vintners in California's Napa Valley, died on March 2 [2019] in the city of Napa.


. . .


Mr. Shafer (pronounced SHAY-fer) was 47 when he resolved to acquire a winery as an absentee owner and one day retire as a gentleman farmer. His horticultural experience had been limited to planting flowers in his front yard.

But within six months of that decision, he took a leap. He left his job at what he described as an ossified company to take up a second career in which he could be his own boss and work outdoors.


. . .


. . . as a newcomer to the Napa Valley, which was just beginning to attract winemakers who popularized individual vineyards, he had neglected to hire a sufficient number of grape-pickers far enough in advance. That left the fruit riper -- and sweeter -- than the industry norm when the grapes were harvested.

"Shafer thought he ruined his wine, but instead it turned out to be the ripe signature style that has defined Shafer wines for the past four decades," Wine Spectator magazine said.



For the full obituary, see:

Sam Roberts. "John Shafer, Executive Turned Winemaker, Dies at 94." The New York Times, First Section (Sunday, March 10, 2019): 24.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed year, added.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date March 7, 2019, and has the title "John Shafer, 94, Who Made Triumphant Leap Into Winemaking, Dies.")


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