…I Bid You a Fond Farewell

THE AUTHOR CONTEMPLATES THE NEXT HARVEST

(UPDATE april 29, 2012: check out the Harvestoons 2011 video montage if you don’t have time to read this blog. It’s about a 5-minute photo journal of my internship.)

I reflect on my good fortune in catching on with Fred at Scherrer Winery. This vintage expanded my library of knowledge. Working side-by-side daily with Fred (& Kerry), 2011 was a time to discover the satisfaction of working for the pure joy of creating something timeless – an artist’s mindset. Time and paychecks became secondary.  People, relationships and the craft moved to the fore.

Interacting and collaborating with like-minded people, both at Scherrer, in those family vineyards, and on the many smaller projects that I participated in, was abundantly rewarding. Those long days, made memorable by the people connected to them:

These are the days.

The 2011 wines from Fred Scherrer,

in what is too soon being labeled a challenging vintage,

remind me of a line from a movie:

“For what we are about to see next, we must enter quietly into the realm of genius.”

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Last Man Out The Door

CSS2, BEING DRAINED

When last we left, there was a single tank left from the 2011 harvest. CSS2 – arguably the best Cabernet block of Fred’s Dad’s vineyard in Alexander Valley. Yesterday morning we drained & pressed this promising, gifted youngster – fragrant, full-bodied, balanced and complex. Yikes! The potential for this vintage of Cab is scary good.

We cleaned up. Had burgers from Underwood in Graton. Then I got on an oft-delayed flight and I’m writing to you from a comfy chair next to a fogged window at Mom’s house looking out at the rainy, chilly scenery – Welcome to Oregon!

MY LAST EXERCISE OF THE YEAR. DIGGING OUT CSS2

FRED DRAGS THE LAST TANK OUT THE DOOR

Not to fear, Fred tells me he will be barreling down on Thanksgiving Day! (while entertaining 50 or so friends and family)…

…as always – the last man out the door!

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…As The Sun Sets Slowly In The West

ACTUALLY. SUNRISE OVER RITCHIE VINEYARD, EASTSIDE ROAD ON MY LAST FULL DAY

Two fermenting tanks left in the cellar. The call was made to press the CSS1 Tank.

1ST WE DRAIN THE FREE RUN JUICE FROM CSS1 INTO A FRESH TANK. IF IT FLOWS, IT GOES

FRED AND I SHOVELED THE REMAINING FERMENTED BERRIES INTO A BIN TO BE DUMPED INTO THE PRESS

CSS1 TANK EMPTY. OFF TO THE BONEYARD OR A SIMILAR FATE

My last full day of Harvest 2011! Drain & Press the Cabernet Sauvignon from Scherrer Vineyard in Alexander Valley.  At the risk of being redundant, Fred and I both mentioned how aromatic the tank was. The trial blends afterwards confirmed our suspicions – this is going to be a special year for Scherrer Cabernets!

LAST OF THE CSS1 INTO THE PRESS

After a day of long slow low pressure pressing, Fred centrifuges down the wine from the press pan and then does a proportional blending trial with the free run from the fresh tank. If he likes what he’s tasting, we send the wine from the press to join the free run.

THE LONELY GUY. CSS2. THE LAST FERMENTOR IN THE CELLAR

Today we will do the same to “The Lonely Guy” and then, later in the afternoon, I’ll fly to Oregon to be with the family for the Holidays.  A bittersweet time for me. I look forward to spending time off in Willamette Valley wine country with Mom and the family, but I always get the post-harvest blues. Harvest is the ultimate rush for me.

Check back soon. I’ll have plenty of time to update the Project: Wine! post.

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Project: Wine!

In the coming days I will let you take a peak into the world of smaller winemaking projects that I participated in during the 2011 Harvest. Home, experimental, test runs, and just plain brilliant! Fascinating and fun projects with passionate people in Sonoma County:

LC's HANDS

INNOVATIVE OWNER-DESIGNED PRESS BUCKET

WORKING WITH THE EQUIPMENT YOU HAVE. THAT'S A FORKLIFT!

PROJECT WINES INVOLVE LONG HOURS AND LATE NIGHTS

A BRILLIANT MIND

Check back soon.  This was a different kind of harvest for me.

Scherrer Winery OPEN HOUSE weekend starts in 2 hours! Come see us if you are near Sebastopol.

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AVC

JUST BEFORE MY JUMP INTO A TANK OF ALEXANDER VALLEY CABERNET

Fred opened the door to the Alexander Valley Cabernet (AVC) tank and out tumbled all those wonderful aromas and intense flavors  from 2.5 tons of grapes! (time to press)

All of our Cabernets come from the Scherrer Vineyard.  The different label designations indicate which area of the vineyard the fruit comes from. AVC = ‘the young vines’ from 1993. But this vintage is so good that Fred has yet to decide on its final resting place! It is that good! Some of it could end up in our top Cab, the CSS (Scherrer Vineyard designate Cabernet), ‘the old vines’ from 1989.

Just two fermentation tanks to go. Dead Man Walkin’!

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The Boneyard

“The Boneyard.” A Fred saying. The old apple-packing facility only has so much room. The fermentors have no business inside after harvest. They get the boot. Back to The Boneyard.

THE BONEYARD. WHERE THE 2011 FERMENTORS COME TO REST

POMMACE TRAIN - THE REMNANTS OF A BUSY DAY OF PRESSING

2010 CAKEBREAD PRESS TRAIN. OK BUT THEY DO OVER 100,000 CASES

BINS STACKED FOR WINTER. A SIGN THAT THE HARVEST IS COMING TO AN END

Time to do some deep scrubbing…

CELLAR FLOOR BEFORE DEEP CLEANING SCRUB

CLEAN FOR YOUR NOVEMBER OPEN HOUSE VISIT

The barrels get all the attention now. UPS, FEDEX, GSO are also welcome (holiday orders, the library, silly).

LIBRARY ORDERS. HALLBERG PINOT NOIR GOING FAST. ROSÉ SOLD OUT. UPS SCOLDED FRED FOR TOO MANY PACKAGES TODAY

FLUSHED OUT LIKE A FLOCK OF GEESE, HEADING HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

and time to update the ‘ol resume (read my 2010 post harvest resume “draft”).

FRED WALKED KERRY AND I THROUGH ALL OF OUR WORK-THE 2011 WINES IN BARREL!

You pick grapes. You spend countless hours sorting them, especially in a challenging vintage (2011). You coddle and nurture them in the fermentors, letting them settle, inoculate, feed.  Cap temps, punch-downs. You sniff, swirl and taste daily.  You dream about your options. Did you forget something? You want to hit snooze at 4:30 AM,  you want to get up at 3:00 AM. You know you only have this one chance for the whole year to get it right.  You are the intern. The winemaker is already in the cellar. You are grateful for your fellow intern – she’s a worker.

You drink a lot of coffee. You wake up before sunrise. You can’t wait to do it all again. Teamwork in motion. Beautiful Day. I love the life.

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Rockstar Tasting

Last weekend I dropped by the winery to say hi to Fred on my day off and I stumbled upon this scene:

WHERE DID I PUT IT? FRED SEARCHING FOR THAT RARE BARREL

THIEFING 2010 HALLBERG PINOT

AH...THAT'S THE ONE - PINOT FROM GREEN VALLEY IN THE RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY

REMEMBER THE EMERITUS HALLBERG VINEYARD ON HWY 116 NEAR MERRY EDWARDS

There is less than 4 barrels of this wine, made in years where it won’t hurt Fred’s Russian River Pinot blend to separate out a few barrels.  In 2007 he made 1 barrel. I snatched up 3 bottles (Intern salary limits). The Library release is today. Check the newsletter.

TELLING TALES AND TASTING 2 VERSIONS OF 2010 HALLBERG PINOT-HIS OWN AND AN AUCTION LOT

TUNING UP. THE TASTING MOVED INTO THE STUDIO-OFFICE...

...WHERE A TASTING JAM SESSION BROKE OUT. THE BLUES, PATSY CLINE AND MORE!

THE ROCKSTAR!

(“The Months” October 2011 edition is up)

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