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Elias Fernandez | Grape Legends

    Elias Fernandez is the winemaker at Shafer Vineyards: www.ShaferVineyards.com Follow Shafer Vineyards on Facebook, and Twitter: @ShaferVineyards

    Interview Series – Click each question below to load it, above.

    » When pressed by Gary Vaynerchuk on WineLibrary TV, a colleague said that you are the best winemaker in North America and in South America it’s Alejandro Vigil of Catena.

    » Have you been smitten by another wine region elsewhere on the globe?

    » Online, a few years ago, there was a spirited exchange between Michael Twelftree and Eric Asimov about alcohol content. During the exchange, Michael asks “[what about all the] brilliant high alcohol Northern Rhones made in 2003 by Chave, Chapoutier, Guigal and Rostaing. Manfred Krankl, Helen Turley, Elias Fernandez this list can go on and on.”

    » Seemingly winemakers unanimously state that their goto wine is Champagne. Is it the refreshing quality because they’ve had still wine all day, and the tactile pleasure rejuvenates their palates, or do they deep-down have an overarching love of Champagne?

    » Some consultants claim to be making wine for 20+ wineries; isn’t that impossible?

    » As a cyclist you’re familiar with what one does when they’re over-peddling, also known as spinning. At Shafer, when did you find your cadence and quit spinning?

    » Albert Einstein said “Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.”

    » Shafer focused on sustainable practices early, and was one of the first to equip their winery with Solar panels–now, net positive, and giving back to the grid–but, an ’02 Hillside Select that my friend poured recently tricked us, because when the bottle was lifted we inferred from its heaviness that wine had remained.

    » The late Jack Cardiff described how he ingeniously created without today’s editing capabilities a film scene that required fog/mist. He simply huffed his moist breath onto the camera’s lens, and eventually it evaporated; so went the scene. Have you left your mark, here, with regard to some innovation?

    » Because Merlot grapes won’t easily let go of their jacks, would you attribute the use of optical sorters or destemmers to have significantly improved the quality of wine that’s produced from Merlot, today?

    » In the book “The Emperor of Wine” a younger version of yourself is seen standing at a table full of stemware and aside you is a seated Robert M. Parker, Jr.

    » Bart Araujo related that ever since they had gone biodynamic they’ve been able to reach phenolic maturity about a week sooner than before.

    » Steve Jobs believed that a “computer has always been a bicycle of the mind–something that takes us far beyond our inherent abilities.” Since you had begun making wine, which specific advancements have taken wine further?

    » Gianfranco Soldera said “If a producer puts wines in barriques it’s because he has bad wine, without tannins; he must replace the tannins and aromas with what is gained from the barriques.”

    » Let’s face it: you’ve got some serious job-security. How has that empowered you with a sense of freedom to explore?

    » “When Tchelistcheff said “The wine must have Rutherford dust in them,” he did not mean they had to taste of dust; Andre meant they needed to taste like they came from Rutherford’s vineyards,” said Andy Beckstoffer. Joel Aiken colored that statement with his own account that Tchelistcheff hadn’t even coined Rutherford dust; “He[Tchelistcheff] said it was Maynard Amerine.”

    » In “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” Kris Kristofferson wrote “Then I fumbled through my closet for my clothes, and found my cleanest dirty shirt.” When you’re tasting from barrel to barrel, how do distinguish from what might appear better than it is because you’ve just previously tasted something relatively inferior?

    » Klaus Peter Keller suggests that hillsides might not always have an advantage especially with the ensuing changes in climate. The exposure of the hillsides might hasten ripeness in some instances.

    » Your wine was served at the White House. For a boy whose childhood aspiration was simply never to have to pick walnuts or prunes, describe some of your proudest moments.