When Doug and John Shafer started working together in 1983, the winery’s future was an unknown. John Shafer’s first wine, 1,000 cases of 1978 Cabernet Sauvignon, had been on the market about 18 months. Even though it would go on to win accolades, it took a lot of time to get that first Cabernet on store shelves and restaurant lists.
For the father-and-son team it was the start of a working relationship that would last more than 30 years – a partnership that is embedded in the name One Point Five.
“Most family owned businesses have their second-generation story – a first generation handing over the reins to a second,” says Doug. “Things happened differently here. Dad and I were in this together early on and learned the business side by side.”
They coined the term “a generation and a half” to differentiate theirs from a traditional second-generation story. From that comes the name One Point Five.
Stags Leap Commitment
Shafer has produced two Cabernet Sauvignon wines since the early 1980s. Hillside Select originated from hillside vines surrounding the winery. Their Stags Leap District Cabernet was sourced from Shafer’s property and from growers nearby.
“By 1996 the growers we were buying from were starting to make their own wine and wanted to keep their fruit,” says Doug.
In 1996 Doug purchased Cabernet from as far north as Calistoga and as far south as Oak Knoll, producing the winery’s first non-Stags Leap District Cabernet.
“We thought it’d be fun to create a Cab that’d be a snapshot of the vintage Napa Valley-wide,” says Doug.
Ultimately though, their hearts remained with Stags Leap District. In 1999 Shafer purchased the last sizeable parcel of vineyard land within the appellation naming it “Borderline,” as it lies along the southern boundary of the District.
“The challenge was how to work with a flat, broad property with deep soils and yet cultivate vines that produce the sort of concentrated, small-berried fruit that we like so much from our hillside site,” says Doug
The vineyard team prepared Borderline by embedding an extensive subsurface drainage system that would offer quick runoff and keep soils dry, holding the vigor of the vines in check. Shafer also used low-vigor rootstocks and planted the site using close spacing so that the vines would compete for moisture and soil nutrients.
“We also manage the site with sustainable farming methods,” Doug says. “Each fall we plant a mix of cover crops – bell beans, clover, and oats. These provide further competition with the vines for water and nutrients, pushing them to produce small berries and rich flavors.”