Wild Yeast Fermentations: Tips from the Pros

Not every winemaker makes wine with commercially-cultivated yeast strains. In fact, lots of commercial winemakers let their wines ferment with wild yeast from the grapes and in the winery. Here we have two California winemakers discuss wild yeasts. Robert Lauer, Assistant Winemaker at Storrs Winery in Santa Cruz, California. Robert studied fermentation science and viticulture at UC-Davis. After graduation he went on to work at Williams-Selyem in Healdsburg, California, and later went to Queenstown, New Zealand to work for Chard Farm Winery. When he returned to the US in 2010, Robert came to Santa Cruz where he accepted a full-time production position at Storrs. We use wild or native fermentations at Storrs because we are looking to diversify flavors and get a different profile out of the fruit. Our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the focus of our wild fermentation program. We make our yeast decisions based on the fruit. We wait to get the juice to come in for each individual lot of grapes and then we determine what kind of yeast strain to use based on the flavor