Make It Rain!

Raining Scherrer Vineyard Chardonnay from a circa 1990 German Press

Fred uses some favorite sayings like “make it rain” when showing me how many PSI he wants the Chardonnay press to get on each cycle.

A family type atmosphere at Scherrer. His buddy Kit delivers today's grapes

6.5 bins. The recent +90F (32C) heat helped stop the spread of botrytis.

Winemaker Fred Scherrer is hands-on, doing most of the forklift driving too

Last year at Cakebread Cellars we would process over 140 tons of Chardonnay on a heavy day. I have seen a wide spectrum of winemaking styles during my 3 harvests.

Today we took in 2.618 tons of Chardonnay from his father Ed’s vineyard in Alexander Valley. At this small winery that equals 3 press loads of about 800 – 900 lbs a ton per load. We do about 15-20 four-minute cycles, increasing the PSI when necessary.

We use two antique but very functional presses that are both over 20 years old. The oldest is a Willmes, circa mid-1980s, or is that mid-1970s? Either way, they work like new.

Fred is constantly tasting and occasionally analyzing the juice. The 1st cycles are more acidic with lower pH. He really keeps an eye on the final few press cycles to balance out the total tank but not get all the bitter stuff and make the wine too flabby.

Acidity, pH, Brix levels.

Kerry raking grapes onto our homemade hopper. Another winery liked it so much they made a metal copy of it

A very full press = maybe a ton

Noted vineyard consultant, Daniel Roberts visits with Fred Scherrer

Fred Scherrer is much respected in the Russian River Valley. One of the great things about working at this remote isolated converted apple-packing facility is that we get lots of interesting visitors. Today Elizabeth and Daniel Roberts, of Integrated Winegrowing, brought over pizza and beer. Ben King of King Vineyard sat down with us too. A welcome meal after a long day of “making it rain!”

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