…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.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

…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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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’!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 4 Comments

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)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Catching up with SOG

GRAB SOME COFFEE. MORNINGS ARE FUZZY DURING THESE LONG HARVEST DAYS

It’s been a hectic wrap up to the 2011 Harvest. Things are finally tapering off so I thought I’d give you a brief recap of what went on at Scherrer Winery the past several weeks:

THE AUTHOR DOING MORNING PUNCH DOWN. A GREAT ABS AND ARMS WORKOUT

AT THE HEIGHT OF FERMENTATION THINGS GET QUITE ACTIVE

A quick abbreviated rundown of red grape fermentation:  pick grapes, usually destem them into a fermentation bin or tank, you can cold soak them for extraction for a few days or maybe inoculate them a day or so afterwards (to avoid the botrytis mold from growing, this was a good year to inoculate quicker).  The fermentation is a curved process that starts slow, builds to an active peak and then tapers off. As the fermentation starts it gives off CO2, causing the solids to rise to create that “cap.” It also creates heat because the yeast are in a feeding frenzy ‘eating’ the grape sugars. You add yeast nutrients about a third of the way into the process to give the yeast Nitrogen and other vitamins.

The punch downs help dissipate the heat and wet the cap. Otherwise, the cap also becomes a microbial playground. Usually, you punchdown two or three times a day during the peak, monitoring cap temperatures as well. Too much heat will kill the yeast. There’s more to all of this but…anyways…back to our story.

HERE IS ONE WAY TO ACCLIMATE THE YEAST TO THE JUICE TEMPERATURE. AVOIDS SHOCKING THE YEAST

AFTER ACCLIMATING YEAST, POUR INTO A CORNER AND LET THE POPULATION GROW

A HEARTY BREAKFAST WAS IN ORDER AFTER DOING 16 PUNCHDOWNS!

After fermentation and maybe a few days to more than a week of post-fermentation extraction and polymerization, you dig out the grapes (pomace), sending the free-run juice to a clean tank/bin and putting the pomace into a press:

KERRY DIGS OUT THE GUNSALUS PINOT NOIR TANK

THAT BOTTOM BIN WILL BE DUMPED INTO THE PRESS

I DO BELIEVE SHE'S SAYING NO MORE FRIGGIN PHOTOS, AP

A REDUNDANT SCENE - BUT, I LOVE IT. RED PRESS

After pressing and blending the good press fractions with the free-run juice, you let it settle for a day or two and then drain it off of any more solids (this is called racking) to another clean tank. Then you can send it to barrels to await the beginning of Malolactic Fermentation:

SEND IT TO BARRELS. FRED BARRELING DOWN THE 2011 OLD AND MATURE ZIN

A few other happenings in the waning days of 2011 Scherrer Harvest:

LAST OF THE PINOT NOIR HARVEST. FRED TAKES IT TO A FERMENTOR

THE FINAL GRAPES OF 2011 - KICK RANCH GRENACHE FROM HIGH ABOVE SANTA ROSA

WE STILL HAVE ORDERS TO PROCESS AND A FEW WINES TO PRESS AND BLEND...

Always a sad sight for us interns, but a more relaxed time for everybody, including Fred, who worked some monster hours during the Halloween season.

TANK ROOM CROWD JUST ONE MONTH AGO

...BUT YOU CAN SEE A LOT MORE OF THE FLOOR IN THE ONCE CROWDED TANK ROOM

Only a few more episodes of “Season of Growth.” Stay tuned. I will post a few more fun things that happened towards the end of this year’s harvest.

 À bientôt…

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Lovely Lolita

MARTINELLI'S LOLITA VINEYARD LOOKING EAST FROM THE SYRAH BLOCK

As I mentioned in the “Preview,” we picked our only Syrah of the 2011 vintage on Monday. Lee Martinelli Jr. and his ‘energizer’ dog, Bolt, were there to guide the picking along with Fred.

BOLT OBSERVES FRED AND LEE OBSERVE THE PICKING OF SYRAH CLONE 877

THE STEEP SYRAH BLOCK IS BORDERED BY PEPPERWOOD TREES, REDWOOD, OAK AND MANZAINITA

LOOK AT THE TOP OF THIS PHOTO TO SEE JUST HOW STEEP IT IS. THE TRUCK WITH BINS IS BELOW

THE PICKERS DILIGENTLY CULLED OUT ANY BAD CLUSTERS OR BOTRYTIS ROT

There were some breathtaking views from Lolita Ranch Vineyard.

SUROUNDED BY FOREST MEANS LOTS OF WILDLIFE

PINOT NOIR AND CHARDONNAY DOWN BELOW

OVERLOOKING SEBASTOPOL, FORESTVILLE AND SANTA ROSA

This forested property was once owned by Guiseppe and Luisa Martinelli back in the 1890s. Lee Jr reaquired the property from Bob and Lolita Young in 1999 and began planting in 2000. Some of the cuttings are from Guiseppe’s original Jackass Hill Vineyard.

JACKASS HILL. MARTINELLI MAKES A FAMOUS ZIN FROM HERE!

There won’t be much Syrah from Lolita Ranch, a ton maybe, but the Martinelli crew made sure we got only quality fruit.

PRECIOUS FEW BINS OF 2011 SCHERRER SYRAH!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Preview: Lolita is here!

HIGH ABOVE FORESTVILLE, NOT FAR FROM SCHERRER WINERY...

...EARLY MONDAY, FRED AND I MET LEE MARTINELLI, JR AT LOLITA VINEYARD

Coming soon:  More on this spectacular site near Jackass Hill off Martinelli Road.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment