Whole Cluster Fermentation Intent, Execution, Expression and Analytics

The inclusion of whole grape clusters in the red wine fermenter is a concept as old as wine itself. In the modern age, this technique is used with stylistic intent and is implemented with great specificity. Winemakers choose not only the whole cluster percentage, but also dictate how those clusters are treated, loaded, and layered into the tank. Carbonic maceration can be favored or discouraged and cluster disruption can be initiated immediately with foot treading or nearly avoided with very gentle cap management.

How these choices influence the sensory experience of the finished wine is still a matter of discussion and debate. Here, we will explore the chemical and sensory effects of whole cluster fermentation in a research context as well as a winemaking context. We will hear from Dr. Federico Casassa about the measurable effects of whole cluster fermentation on wine chemistry and phenolic profile. Then, our winemaking panelists will share their whole cluster philosophies and techniques. Finally, we will see how their intent carries into the glass with an integrated tasting and will open the floor to questions and a brief discussion.

View the Session Recording

Browse the Session Presentation

Coming soon. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Speaker Bios

Emily Terrell joined the team at Brittan Vineyards in 2013, where she is currently associate winemaker. Prior to that, Emily earned her M.Sc. in food science/wine biotech at the University of British Columbia where she studied mixed Saccharomyces strain fermentations in Pinot noir. After a few years at the lab bench working with fermentation in miniature, she couldn’t wait to get her hands dirty working in cellars and vineyards worldwide, including formative stints in Marlborough, the Okanagan, the Mornington Peninsula, Central Otago, Corsica, and the Northern Rhône. Emily was thrilled to arrive in Oregon in 2012 and looks forward to many more years of making site-driven wines of distinction in this very special region.
Dr. Federico Casassa has received a B.S. in viticulture and an M.S. in enology from the School of Agriculture in Mendoza and a Ph.D. in wine chemistry and sensory analysis from Washington State University. He is an associate professor of enology at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. His published research focuses on the effects of regulated deficit irrigation and variations of berry size in grapes and wines and cluster thinning as well as on phenolic extraction and sensory outcomes of different maceration techniques in red wines, including cold soak, saignée, and extended maceration. Dr. Casassa has been awarded the “Best Paper of the Year Award” by the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture (AJEV) twice: 2014 and 2017. He has completed 19 vintages as winemaker in regions such as Mendoza, Côtes du Rhône, Washington state and California. He is responsible for the Cal Poly wine branded program, regularly judges for local and international wine competitions, and consults in Chile, Argentina, and the U.S. He was most recently awarded the Best Scholar Award at Cal Poly.
Grant Coulter: Born on the foggy coast of California. Discovered wine by being dragged along to multiple tasting rooms as impressionable kid. Drank mostly beer. Then got an enology degree from Fresno State. Worked in multiple wineries near San Francisiso. Heard the Call of the North. Worked as assistant winemaker for Hamacher Wines. Joined Beaux Frères in 2007 as assistant winemaker and left as winemaker in 2015. Started Hundred Suns wines with wife Renee. In 2016, began working at Flâneur as winemaker and director of vineyards.
Tom Gerrie is the winegrower and second-generation owner of Cristom Vineyards. After graduating from the University of Washington, Tom worked harvests at Bethel Heights Vineyard in the Willamette Valley, Domaine François Mikulski of Meursault in the Côte de Beaune of Burgundy, and with Brian Croser at Tappanappa Wines in the Adelaide Hills of Australia. Since 2007, he has worked alongside Cristom’s original winemaker, Steve Doerner, who has inspired the foundation of Tom’s winemaking philosophy.
Tom’s parents, Paul and Eileen, established Cristom in 1992 with a vision to grow world class Pinot noir. In 2012, Tom became the majority owner overseeing all aspects of vineyard management and winemaking, and leads Cristom with a 100-year vision of the future. With a winegrowing philosophy based on soil and plant health and nutrition, he has led the transition to organic farming and incorporates Biodynamic principles and methods across the estate.

More Resources from the Session

Coming soon. We apologize for the inconvenience.