SHAFER VINEYARDS MARKS LAST VINTAGE OF ‘FIREBREAK’ SANGIOVESE
Sends Super Tuscan Producer Antinori a bottle of Firebreak Wrapped in a White Flag
“It’s an unconditional Sangiovese surrender,” says Doug Shafer of final Firebreak vintage
February 2006, Napa Valley – After 13 vintages Shafer Vineyards is getting out of the Sangiovese business. To mark the occasion John and Doug Shafer have sent Marchese Piero Antinori, head of the Antinori wine firm in Italy, a bottle of the last release of Firebreak wrapped in a white flag of surrender.
“We've learned a lot about growing this grape and making a bold, flavorful wine, but after more than a decade we still prefer the Sangioveses that top Italian vintners are making," says Doug Shafer. "The reason we started down this path is because in the late 1980s on a trip through Tuscany my dad fell in love with Antinori's Tignanello. When he got home he was so enthusiastic about Sangiovese we started planting it. Sending Antinori a bottle of Firebreak wrapped in a white flag is our way of saying nobody does it better.”
“On numerous occasions when visiting Napa Valley I have enjoyed tasting the Shafer Firebreak,” says Marchese Piero Antinori. “ It has always been a great curiosity of mine to see how Sangiovese would grow in an area outside of Tuscany. We are very grateful for their contribution to the international recognition of Sangiovese.”
In the early years Shafer’s “Firebreak” Sangiovese was reflective of the Super Tuscan style with 80 percent Sangiovese and 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. Eventually it evolved into a blend that is more than 90 percent Sangiovese with small a percentage of Cabernet.
“We’ve been extremely fortunate. Our Sangiovese has won praise from consumers and wine critics, but I believe it’s better to move on while things are going well,” says Shafer. “Truth is our vineyard property is a better home for Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. We’re tightening our focus.”
The final vintage is called 2003 Last Chance Firebreak and harkens back to 1983 when Shafer offered its final release of Zinfandel. That vintage was called “Last Chance Zin.”
The name Firebreak dates to 1981 when after a huge wildfire got too close for comfort, John Shafer planted a vineyard near his house to create a natural firebreak. Part of the knoll was planted to Sangiovese, part to Cabernet Sauvignon, and the wine “Firebreak” was born.
Last Chance Firebreak is released March 1, 2006 with a suggested retail price of $42.
Shafer Vineyards is a 32,000-case winery in Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District managed by the father and son team of John and Doug Shafer. The Shafers own and farm 200 acres of vineyards, sources for Shafer’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Syrah.