Steve Schafer started San Joaquin Wine Co. in 2005 as the fulfillment of a personal passion. Steve, being in a family farming business along with his father “Corky” and brother Mike, has grown primarily wine and raisin grapes along with almonds for over 30 years in Madera, California. In the business, Steve manages the grape acreage, while Mike manages the almond acreage and dad looks over his sons to keep them out of trouble. They farm 12 wine varieties including: Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah and Grenache.
Along with farming, Steve has been heavily involved in the California Assoc. of Wine Grape Growers (CAWG), an organization that supports and advocates for California wine grape issues. Through this involvement, including being past chairman, Steve’s interest in wines increased as he formed relationships with many leaders in the industry. During Steve’s tenure as Chairman of CAWG, one of the concepts he promoted was that growers would never receive the full value of the grapes they produced until they actually produced the wine that was the true end product. He believes that in order to be the best wine grape grower possible, you have to complete the circle and also become a vintner. Steve is also an advocate of sustainable winegrowing practices which was introduced by CAWG and the Wine Institute in 2001. Sustainable farming is a commitment to better stewardship of the vineyards, as well as the community at large. Steve remains a member on the board of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA).
Steve and his wife Cindy have always enjoyed drinking wine along with their many good friends, including Joey and Diane Sagariballa, who would become partners in the business in 2010. So when Steve brought home the idea that he was interested in fulfilling his dream of owning a winery, he received full support from Cindy and his 3 children. Thus, in 2005 Steve began purchasing winery equipment and stainless steel tanks to install at the 21801 Avenue 16, Madera, CA location. In 2006 Steve chose a few select varieties from his local ranches with his winemaker Lee Nesbitt’s approval of the quality of those grapes, and the winemaking process began! Crush had to take place at an outside facility until finally in 2008 all the equipment was ready to crush on site. Since then, all processes have been completed at the winery, including bottling. The first 4 wines were finished and ready to bottle in November 2008, just before the November wine trail event. Moody Press was chosen as the first label, with artwork by Fresnan Dennis Waring. The Moody Press label features “Mercury” relaxing with a glass of fine wine. Thus Moody Press Cellars was also created.
Our mission statement at San Joaquin Wine Co. is: “To produce the highest quality wines possible at affordable prices from select local grape varieties.” Our winemaker, Eric Natali, joined our crew in July 2010. With his appreciated expertise and the leadership of Steve and Joey, SJWC will continue to move forward in growth and excellence producing quality wines. All of us at San Joaquin Wine Co. and “Moody Press Cellars” are committed to quality and value. We look forward to future vintages and increasing our selections for you to taste!