Winemaker extraordinaire Fred Scherrer’s passion for winemaking supersedes his need for notoriety. He
produced wines for many years before modernizing his label that puts his name front and center and creating a
website that does his wines justice. Still, be assured, Fred will not let it go to his head. His winery has minimal
signage and is housed in an undistinguished metal building in an area of Sebastopol in the Russian River
Valley where the neighbors prefer that his winery remain inauspicious.
Fred is a University of California at Davis graduate who went on to be the winemaker at Dehlinger Winery for
ten years before striking out on his own. He has quietly built a stellar reputation among other Sonoma County
winemakers as well as consumers who treasure his Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel
and other varietals.
It has been a couple of years since I visited Fred and reviewed his wines. When I sampled how good some of
his recent Pinot Noir and Chardonnay releases were, I quickly realized I had stayed away too long.
Scherrer Winery does not have a tasting room but does accept some tasting appointments as the wine making
schedule allows. Open Houses are held in April, August and mid-November. Fred’s spouse, Judi, handles the
business and sales side of the operation and both Fred and Judi’s email addresses are on the website. A
newsletter is sent out periodically. Most of the Scherrer wines are sold to the faithful through a mailing list. Visit
Fred does not rush to market his wines to satisfy a demand, but does offer wines to consumers ahead of
commercial release, knowing that his customers will cellar the wines according to their own tastes. This allows
him to survive the financial challenge of holding back vintages until they really shine. That said, Fred does
retain a proportion of all his wines to study their development over time. Once a year in November, a few wines
from the library are made available.
Pinot Noirs are typically de-stemmed, but not crushed. They are barreled very shortly after fermentation in
open-top fermenters and pressing, and rested on their lees for 6-10 months before being racked and blended.
Total aging in barrel is 16 to 18 months. The wines are bottled unfiltered. Chardonnays are whole cluster
pressed, 100% barrel fermentation and malolactic fermentation, nearly 12 months of barrel aging, and bottled
2012 Scherrer Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $48. Released October 2015. Unfined and
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, spice and a hint of tar lead to
tasty, mid weight flavors of black cherry, purple berries, spice and a touch of herbs and red hard candy. Layers
of goodness with balanced, slightly gravely tannins, and a succulent finish. Notably complex for an appellation
2011 Scherrer Hallberg Vineyard Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc.,48 cases,
$75. Released October 2015. Fruit from this vineyard is the normal backbone of the Russian River Valley
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. A haunting wine, with intense mid weight plus flavors
of black cherry, blackberry, cola, spice, dried herbs and a hint of tarry oak. An underlying citric edge brings the
juicy fruit alive. Impressive length on the palate and the lush finish.
2011 Scherrer ‘Big Brother’ Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
alc., 140 cases, $55. Released July 2015. A blend of fruit from a
vineyard in Annapolis and one in Bodega.
purple color in the glass. Charming aromas of cherry, rose, and
sous-bois. Intensely flavored yet has the comportment of a
ballerina on the palate, with luscious flavors of perfectly ripened
dark red cherries and berries wrapped in suave tannins.
Impeccably balanced with a charge of cherry extract on the persistent
finish. Perfect to drink now, but this wine has the structure and harmony
to age beautifully. I recently (mid-2015) consumed a 2007 vintage ‘Big
Brother’ and it still had many years of life ahead.
2012 Scherrer Helfer Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.5% alc., 117 cases, $48. Released November 2014. This densely planted vineyard is located in the Vine Hill
area. Unfined and unfiltered.
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Clean and fresh, with inviting aromas
of lemon curd, nectarine and buttery brioche. Vibrant, complex and flavorful, featuring tastes of lemon, yellow
peach, apple, caramel, toast and spice. A quintessential Russian River Valley Chardonnay that offers plenty of
fruit goodness, but is not overblown or weighty.
2013 Scherrer Helfer Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.5% alc., 160 cases, $48.
yellow hue in the glass. Lovely scent of peach, pear, lemon drop,
buttery brioche, vanilla and floral bouquet. Bright and lush flavors
of lemon, peach, and complimentary oak, with a welcome cut of
acidity adding vibrancy and producing a palate cleansing, citrus-fueled
finish. Similar to the 2012 vintage, but with a slightly better
marriage of fruit and oak, and more riveting fruit flavors.