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Shafer winemaker honoured at White House

US President George W Bush has publicly honoured Napa winemaker Elias Fernandez for his achievements.

Fernandez, who joined premium Napa producer Shafer Vineyards as assistant winemaker 18 years ago, was one of five people inducted into the Hispanic Hall of Fame in Washington DC, last week. The honour is backed by the Hispanic Scholarship Fund.

At the White House, the president spent half an hour with the group, reportedly turning to Spanish on several occasions. He told them he was delighted young hispanics in the United States had such outstanding role models.

‘I was pleased to shake his hand,’ Fernandez said afterwards, adding he was equally pleased his mother was present for the ceremony. ‘My mother’s the one who kept me in school. To have her see the results was really great.’

In the latest issue of the Wine Advocate, critic Robert Parker described the winemaker as ‘doggedly determined as well as brilliant’, and said Shafer is ‘unquestionably the star of the Stags Leap appellation’.

Winery president Doug Shafer, son of founder John Shafer, said Fernandez had long been an equal third of the winemaking team. ‘The experience we’ve had here over the past two decades with my dad, the three of us working together with one goal in mind…has been a great joy.’

He added, ‘He’s a brother. At one time, someone suggested he change his name to Shafer. I think I’d rather change my name to Fernandez.’

Fernandez has also been named Winemaker of the Year in the US Food & Wine magazine.

Written by Adam Lechmere16 October 2002

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