John Shafer, owner of Shafer Vineyards in Stags Leap, has died.

A veteran of Napa’s wine industry and owner of Shafer vineyards, John Shafer died on 2 March.

He was part of a groundbreaking generation that came to Napa Valley in the late 1960s and early 1970s and transformed the region into the world-class wine producing area it is today.

“The world of wine always inspired Dad and he loved nothing more than to work with the Shafer team to improve quality, enhance everything we do, and to discuss future projects,” said Doug Shafer, president, Shafer Vineyards, who had worked with his father since 1983.

“He also loved Napa Valley and worked to make it a better place for everyone. We’re receiving amazing messages from a huge number of people whose lives he touched with his generous spirit,” Doug added in a statement.

He was born in 1924 and spent most of his childhood in Glencoe, Illinois, a small suburb of Chicago. Over the course of his life, his wide range of interests led him to many fascinating jobs and experiences. At age 17 he volunteered for service in World War II, joined the Army Air Corps, and piloted a B-24 bomber over Germany. After the war he earned an engineering degree from Cornell University and later he moved into publishing, starting as a salesman and eventually rising to the position of Vice President of Long Range Planning at educational publishing house Scott, Foresman & Co. in Chicago.

In 1973, at the age of 48, he moved to Napa Valley and created Shafer Vineyards.

He is survived by his daughter Libby Shafer of St. Helena, sons Doug Shafer of St. Helena and Brad Shafer of San Francisco, 13 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.