Scherrer Winery

Harvesting Pinot Noir in the Gunsalus Vineyardwho? what? when? where? why? how?

who grows the grapes at the Scherrer Winery? who makes the wines?

Fred Scherrer is the driving force behind the Scherrer Winery; he sources fruit, helps guide choices in each vineyard, he operates the presses (the motors of which he modified and maintains), he bottles everything by hand, he tests the corks for quality… Fact is, he does an incredible amount on his own, but he is not alone.  
Scherrer Winery is distributed by Candid Wines

Fred’s wife Judi manages the business side of winery, and the family vineyard, the source for most all of the fruit that goes into the Scherrer Winery’s Cabernet, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel bottlings is managed by Fred’s parents and sister. This is a family affair. Pictured at the top of this page is Ed Scherrer, Fred’s father.  Ed has lived on the Scherrer Vineyard his whole life and farmed it for more than 70 years.  In the video below, Ed leads the team as it harvests Chardonnay that is delivered to Fred at the winery later the same morning.

 

what wines do they make at the Scherrer Winery?

The roots of the Scherrer Winery feed the century old Zinfandel vines that grow in the family vineyard in the Alexander Valley. That is the fruit the Fred first set out to bottle when he was still a cellar rat working for others. Today, the program includes Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay from the same site alongside Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley.

Over the past few years, Rhone varieties have crept into the fold, first with Syrah and now some Grenache, both of which are featured in the Dry Rosé.

Prasino Wine Dinner with Fred Scherrer 

 

 

when did the Scherrer Winery start?

Fred’s first vintage under his own label was 1991 and the winery launched as a stand alone venture in 1997. That’s when he left his post as winemaker at Dehlingher and launched the Scherrer Winery as we know it today.

The family history in the Alexander Valley goes back to 1899 when Fred’s great-grandfather bought the land they still farm. As a immigrant from Switzerland in the late 1800’s Fred Scherrer (the winemaker’s grandfather) sought out land off the valley floor at in the relative highlands.  Originally the property was planted to a wide variety of crops including quite a few plume trees that were dried to prunes.  Only a few remnants of this original mix remain, including a few of the most impressive fig trees one can imagine.  

Ed Scherrer among the 100 year old Zinfandel vines at the Scherrer Winery.

The barn in which Ed is sitting in the video below was built around the 1850’s for Cyrus Alexander’s son.  Same is true from the farmhouse in which Fred’s parents still live.  Each predates the planting of the 100 year old Zinfandel vines by just a few decades.

where is the Scherrer Winery?

The Scherrer Winery is located in Sebastopol, roughly an hour’s drive from the family vineyard and literally around the corner from some of the vineyards in the Green Valley from which Fred sources fruit. The placement is strategic as Fred can make it out to see his growers in the Russian River Valley, the Alexander Valley, and on the Sonoma Coast without wasting his life in traffic, and without the grapes needing to travel too far from vineyard to press.

Such is the beauty of this part of California where diverse climates and soils rewards those who wish to makes wines with varied grapes and expressions.

Zinfandel vines at the Scherrer Vineyard, Sonoma

why is the Scherrer Winery a Candid Wine?

Fred is a winemaker, a teacher, a thinker, and a good friend. He also happens to be one of the hardest workers we know. This allows him to be present at every stage of wine making from bud break in the Alexander Valley to harvesting on the Sonoma Coast, and from tweaking his presses at crush to hand bottling every single bottle that will wear a Scherrer label. His family connections to the industry and the land in California give him a rare insight into what really matters over the long haul. We like the way admitted “Euro-phile” and wine shop owner Victor Pugliese finished his article on Fred, and leave the last word to him.

“Fred is not unique in California, but he is rare. I have a lot of thoughts about why this is, but for the moment let’s just say that Fred Scherrer is the kind of person I want making the wine I drink.”

how is it made?

Scherrer wines are made by hand and they are made to last, regardless of how much time that may take. Given the chance, Fred espouses the benefits long molecules that develop in barrel and bottle slowly. He looks for integration of flavors and components in each wine so that balance results. His approach is often antithetical to convention, but always results in balance.

 

Harvest in Sonoma at Scherrer Winery
The best way to understand how Fred makes wine, without an appointment at the winery, might be to browse our video series of more than forty interviews with Fred on everything from aging Zinfandel, to pairing Pinot Noir, to what happens once fermentation is complete (answer: lots of shoveling).