Shai was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area where he spent most of his youth backpacking, fishing, snowboarding, and surfing- anything that gave him the opportunity to commune with Mother Nature. After high school, he enlisted in the Israel Defense Force where he served as a sniper in the Nachal Infantry Brigade’s 50th airborne division. During weeks of active combat in Lebanon, he had only one single dream. That vivid dream, in which he was a winegrower, winemaker, and vineyard owner, changed his outlook on life and inspired him to begin working toward his identified purpose- growing and creating exceptional wine. Upon completion of his military service, Shai returned to California in 2008 and started his first job in the wine industry- organically farming eight acres of Chardonnay and Syrah, completely by hand. He soon began his Enology and Viticulture studies at CSU Fresno, where he was a full-time student by day and vineyard worker by night. By graduation, Shai had gained hands-on experience with grapes from all over California including Fresno, Hollister Hills, Madera, Mendocino, Monterrey, Napa Valley, Paso Robles, San Louis Obispo, Santa Cruz, Sierra Foothills, and Sonoma. After graduating, he worked in wineries in Santa Barbara and Santa Rita Hills before bringing his California wine expertise to Virginia in 2015.
Shai started with us in August 2016 and has proven to be a great fit for the BOW team. His passion for scientific experimentation has lead to Barrel Oak being a pioneer of modern technologies including being the first Virginia winery to implement AgroThermal technology. He also utilizes organic and sustainable practices in vineyard management (including oyster shells recycled from BOW’s own vendor!) to increase the quality of the estate fruit. In his relentless pursuit of wine growing excellence, each year our wines enter national and international competitions, continuing to build on the name BOW has created for itself as a producer of award winning wines. During your visits to BOW, you may see Shai driving a tractor, working in the cellar, talking to guests at the tasting bar, or walking his dogs, Zombi and Cooper, around the vineyard.
In his spare time, Shai enjoys participating in fundraising/charity motorcycle rides, taking trips around the United States, visiting family abroad, exploring Virginia scenery, recreational shooting sports, camping, turkey hunting, bass fishing, reading the latest ASEV scholarly article, researching “the next experiment”, cheering on the San Jose Sharks (and sometimes the Caps), and spending time with his wife Ashley and their fur babies.