Spear Vineyards & Winery
Sta. Rita Hills AVA
One of the most talked about young wineries on California's Central Coast is a beautiful, promising, organically-farmed vineyard nestled in the celebrated Sta. Rita Hills appellation.
A family-owned, sustainable and certified organic vineyard nestled in the heart of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation of Santa Barbara County, Spear Vineyards & Winery was established in 2013 by vigneron Ofer Shepher. At Spear, it is Ofer's goal to craft wines that capture the 38-acre estate vineyard's voice - ultimately, wines that taste like where they come from - and he's off to an incredibly strong start. Already known as one of the best wineries in Sta. Rita Hills, Spear Vineyards & Winery offers an impressive collection of terroir-driven wines that are flavorful, distinctive, and revered by the wine industry press.
Born in Israel, Ofer Shepher came to the United States when he was 5 years old and grew up in Chatsworth, in California's San Fernando Valley. Ofer's mother's side of the family has an agricultural background. She grew up on a kibbutz (a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture), so Ofer was naturally exposed to various aspects of agriculture growing up. During the summers, he worked in a dairy barn, a chicken coop, and also helped fix Vespas, tractors and other equipment in a shop. This influence led him to study Ag Mechanics while in school at the University of Arizona.
Upon graduating, Ofer returned to California and lived in Santa Barbara. He began a career as a technology officer in the emergency medical devices field, but his free time was spent camping and exploring in the nearby wine country. He began visiting some of the wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley and Sta. Rita Hills, and he slowly developed a passion for the whole area. Ofer was especially inspired by legendary Sta. Rita Hills winemaker Richard Sanford who was one of the first to establish Santa Barbara as a wine region, and his success ultimately led Ofer to pursue his Certificate in Winemaking from UC Davis in 2004.
Ofer knew his sole focus would be on the Sta. Rita Hills appellation and he spent the next seven years patiently searching for what would prove to be the ideal location to plant and build his dream vineyard and winery. After finally purchasing his beloved Sta. Rita Hills property, Ofer conducted extensive soil testing and planted a 38-acre vineyard to mostly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but he also allotted a small space to Rhône varieties like Syrah and Grenache, which have done exceptionally well in the cool-climate region. He also brought in Black Angus cattle and nearly four dozen cows to graze and help manage the brush on the surrounding property.
Also on the Sta. Rita Hills property is Spear's tasting room, hospitality center and a gravity-fed winery production facility, all of which are state-of-the-art. Ofer actually restored an old 1920's dairy barn on the property and the setting is quite stunning.
The current winemaker for Spear Vineyards & Winery is Kat Gaffney, who joined the team in 2017. Kat initially became interested in wine while working at a 5-star restaurant and it led her to pursue the Level 1 certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers. She then interned at a winery in Edna Valley, and took extension courses through UC Davis, which solidified her decision to enter the winemaking business. Kat joined Spear Winery in 2017 as associate winemaker, and was promoted to winemaker in January 2018. By taking a less intrusive approach to winemaking, Kat allows the grapes and vineyard to shine - making wine that is a true reflection of the place the grapes call home.
And the name of the winery? 'Spear' is an ode to Ofer's surname, the German 'Szper,' which was changed to the Dutch 'Shepher' after the war. With his family name gracing the label on each bottle of wine, it is so important to Ofer to craft the best wines possible from his family estate. We hope you enjoy a taste from this up-and coming producer - this is a journey you will want to follow for years to come. Cheers to our Pinot Noir Wine Club members!