At one point in his life, John Shafer worked in the publishing industry. Now he is responsible for a slew of eye-popping scores from Robert Parker, and the making of one of Napa Valley's greatest Cabernets. Shafer made the big switch from words to wine in 1972, purchasing a 210-acre estate in Stags Leap. The property was a fixer-upper, so to speak; John and his son Doug, who is now head winemaker, had their work cut out for them. After years spent replanting the vineyard and terracing the steep hillside, retribution came as their debut vintage won first place in the San Francisco Vintners Club Cabernet taste-off. These days, Shafer's Cabernet is frying slightly bigger fish. A decade after the first vintage won in San Francisco, another Cabernet won an international blind-tasting competition in Germany, where it stacked up better than Château Margaux, Château Latour and Château Palmer. The flagship Hillside Select bottling, which comes entirely from the Hillside Estate Vineyard, is a flamboyantly ripe and full-flavored example of the Napa Valley expression of the varietal. Other notable bottlings include a lush, round Merlot, with more personality and soil character than most examples of this variety, and a serious Chardonnay from Carneros.