Panzanella Salad with Frey Organic Pinot Grigio
• ½ loaf of Sourdough bread (about 10oz), cubed
• 2 cups cherry tomatoes
• 2-3 large heirloom tomatoes
• ½ red onion, thinly sliced
• 1 English cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
• Handful of basil leaves, torn into small pieces
• 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
• ½ cup of extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
• 3 cloves of garlic (crushed)
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
• Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat.
• Remove the skillet from the heat, add crushed garlic and bread and mix well.
• Transfer skillet to the oven and bake for 15 minutes until the bread is golden brown. Let it cool down.
• In the meantime, prepare the tomatoes. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, and core and slice the large tomatoes into medium cubes.
• In a large bowl, mix tomatoes, cucumbers and onions.
• Combine vinegar with remaining olive oil, salt and pepper and pour over the salad. Mix well.
• Add toasted bread and basil, and toss everything together.
• Enjoy with a glass of Frey Organic Pinot Grigio!
Our in-house chef Tamara Frey especially created this dish for our Organic Wine Club members. Copyrighted 2016, Tamara Frey.
Spinach stuffed mushrooms are a longtime favorite of mine and are delicious served with a crisp, cold glass of Frey Organic Sauvignon Blanc. This tasty appetizer serves about seven people.
1 ½ lbs crimini mushrooms
1 large leek, washed and chopped fine (about 3 cups)
1 bulb garlic (approx. 10 cloves) peeled and chopped fine
1/3 cup fresh chopped mint
2 cups raw cashews
1 cup Frey Sauvignon Blanc
1 tablespoon honey
4 tablespoons olive oil (or butter)
1 8 oz. block Parmesan or Asiago cheese, grate small
(save ¼ cup for garnish)
4 cups chopped fresh spinach
Slivered roasted red peppers for garnish
Chopped parsley for garnish
Salt and black pepper and cayenne for seasoning
-Break off the mushroom stems, set aside the tops. Chop the stems fine, or blend them in a Cuisinart until coarsely ground.
-Place in a bowl and add the finely chopped leek, garlic, and mint.
-Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees. Spread the raw cashews on a baking pan, roast them approx. ½ hour to 40 minutes until nice and toasty. Then blend in Cuisinart to medium coarse crumbs (not pulverized, but not too large either). Set aside.
-Place the Frey Organic Sauvignon Blanc and honey in a saucepan, simmer approx. 15 to 20 minutes until reduced approx. by half.
-In another pan, heat the oil (or butter) and sauté the leeks, garlic, coarsely ground mushroom stems, and mint, until sweated and done. Deglaze it with the reduced Sauvignon Blanc. Sauté a bit until not too wet. Then add the grated cheese (but set aside ¼ cup of the grated cheese for garnish), add the chopped spinach and cashew crumbs. Heat a few seconds more, just enough for the spinach to cook and for the cheese to melt to act as a bonding agent.
-Mix all together and season to taste with the salt, black pepper and cayenne. Stuff the raw mushroom tops. (I like to do this by first rolling the mixture together into balls just under the size of the mushroom top, like rolling meatballs. Then I stuff the tops as high as possible, like little mountains) and place them on a baking pan. If there’s stuffing left over, enjoy by the spoonful as the mushrooms bake!
-Sprinkle on the remaining Parmesan or Asiago cheese and bake the stuffed mushrooms in a 350 degree oven for approx. fifteen minutes, or until they are soft when squeezed. Garnish with the slivered roasted red peppers and the chopped parsley.
Charbono is a grape with a labyrinthine past. Some say it originated in Northwest Italy as the grape Bonarda, and that it closely resembles the varietal Dolcetto in flavor and growing profile. More likely it came from the Savoie region of Eastern France where it is known as Charbonneau, or Doux Noir (“soft black”). In the early 19th Century it was the most widely grown red wine grape in France. It also shows up in the historical record as an Etruscan grape, planted nearly 3,000 years ago. Luckily, it was exported to South America where it continues to thrive in pockets of Argentina, before it was all but wiped out in the Old World by phylloxera in the mid-1800's.
Frey 2011 Organic Charbono
Yet for having such a long track record, it is now considered a rare bird, and there is very little of it planted in California today, hovering around 80 acres. Charbono arrived in Calistoga in the 1880’s at Inglenook Winery, where it remained in production straight through Prohibition as a sacramental wine. It is very late ripening, which can require extra hang time in the vineyard, and puts it in danger of early fall rains that can produce mildew within the tight clusters. The fruit is paricularly slow to reach adequate sugar levels and is often picked at 22-23 brix. However, the longer hang time does allow for the development of mature flavors, even as sugars stay low.
In the U.S., Charbono is considered one of the first cult wines, in part because of its exotic heritage, and also due to its unique flavor profile. Charbono displays a wide range of flavors that can often include kola nut, vanilla bean, cassis, violets, and tar all in one. Although a huge proponent of the unusual grape, Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard declares Charbono to be “terminally rustic” because of its bold and uncompromising flavors. In the glass, it is traditionally a deep, inky, purple color and was used most often as a blending grape until it caught on more recently as a single-source varietal.
Our 2011 Organic Charbono comes from 3rd generation grape grower Eddie Graziano in Calpella in Mendocino County. The grapes are from two different blocks, one with old vines planted by Eddie’s grandfather, and the other with 12-15 year-old vines. Our Charbono has aromas of wild berry and oak barrel. On the palate, it is gentle and broad without being heavy. Supple damson plum merges with lengthy opulent tannins. Because of the higher acidity and lower alcohol it can cellar longer than some of our lighter-bodied reds. This would be a fantastic pairing with mustard seed-encrusted roast venison or purée of chestnut soup. This limited release is available in our wine shop.
Sitarani Palomar, co-host of "An Organic Conversation" made this delicious soup for us served with an arugula salad with beluga lentils at a recent organic food event.
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 large yellow onion, sliced
¼ cup + ¼ cup Frey Vineyards Biodynamic Chardonnay
5 threads of saffron
2 ½ pounds heirloom tomatoes
2 cups vegetable stock or water
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Core and quarter the tomatoes and set aside.
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and when warmed, add the garlic, sautéing until golden, but not browned. Add the sliced onions, sea salt, and black pepper, and sauté until onions begin to soften. Add ¼ cup of white wine and saffron, and simmer until the wine cooks off, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat add tomatoes, and then divide the ingredients between high-sided sheet trays or casserole dishes. Place in oven and roast for 1 hour.
Remove roasted tomatoes, garlic and onion from the oven and deglaze with the remaining ¼ cup of wine, stirring to dissolve as much of the browned ingredients as possible. Transfer all vegetables and juices to a high-speed blender with vegetable stock or water. Purée until smooth, and pour back into the larger saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until desired consistency is reached and flavors have melded. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
Pairs perfectly with Frey Vineyards 2014 Biodynamic Chardonnay at lunch for its balanced acidity and complementary depth from light oak flavor. Alternatively, enjoy with the velvety richness of Frey Vineyards 2014 Organic Merlot for a satisfying dinner. Serves 4.
The 2015 North Coast winegrape harvest began earlier than ever. At Frey Vineyards we began crushing grapes on August 24th. The early ripening varieties including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc all matured rapidly and came in quick. Yields of these varieties were also lower than average, leading to worry that the entire 2015 crop would be shorter than expected. Most California wineries can rely on bulk finished wine to compensate for light crop yields. At Frey Vineyards we are limited in our ability to source bulk wines since additive-free wines are not available on the open market.
Organic Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.
As we transitioned into harvesting mid-season reds some fields helped make up the difference, with good crops on Merlot, Petite Sirah and some Zinfandel. It became clear early on that the overall quality of the 2015 vintage had potential to be exceptional. With no problem achieving adequate sugars for proper fermentation, late red varieties were allowed ample hang time to become physiologically mature. Not only were the sugars high enough but the grape seeds tasted nutty and the skins shed their bitterness. Meanwhile, seasonable autumn weather preserved optimal acidity for overall balanced fruit flavors.
An inch of rain in early September knocked the dust down and gave the vines a drink to help stall what would otherwise have been a rushed harvest. The rains then held off for another month avoiding any issues with rot and maintaining easy access into the vineyards for harvest equipment.
While we were working to wrap up the earliest harvest on record, my wife Eliza and I also welcomed our second child, Iris Ann Dahlen, into the world. Born on October 12th, in the heat of the last week of harvest, we all felt a sense of relief as the 2015 crush was nearing the end. The final load of grapes, on October 17th, came out of the 50 year-old Easterbrook Cabernet Sauvignon Vineyard on our home ranch in Redwood Valley, and it was as perfect as its ever been.
Post-harvest organic vineyards in the mist.
Cover crop seeding and fall compost spreading soon followed and went smoothly. We finished in time to take advantage of early November rains. The rains gave the cover crop seed good germination and helped incorporate the compost into the soils. These practices help to feed the soil microorganisms that are the foundation of organic agriculture.
As we put the vines to rest for another winter we can reflect on the previous year. So many things went so well, yet there is always room for improvement. Every trip around the sun we learn from our previous mistakes and inevitably new challenges arise. The only universal constant is change and it is our task to adapt to whatever changes may arise.
Healthy soils, hearty vines, honest wines, happy people! Long live organic wines and family farms!
In our quest at the winery for a carbon neutral impact on our climate, we are always looking for new ways to green our packaging and eliminate waste. In 2013, we began a campaign to modify our wine labels to use 100% post-consumer waste, FSC-certified papers. Now in 2015 we are beta testing a new style of wine bottle closure that is the world’s first closure with a zero carbon footprint. The Select Bio closures from Nomacorc are made with renewable plant-based biopolymers derived from sugarcane. This innovative technology prevents cork taint and oxidation, the closures are produced with 100% renewable energy, and they are 100% recyclable.
Nomacorc's Select Bio closures made from non-GMO sugarcane.
The sugarcane used in the Nomacorc line is grown on non-GMO plantations in Brazil. The sugarcane fields are dry-farmed and replace degraded pastureland, helping to recover soil erosion and increase the carbon content within the depleted soil. Residues from production are closed-looped: they are recycled as fertilization or turned into “bagasse,” a sugarcane bi-product used to produce energy.
Another exciting feature for us is that the Select Bio closures are Demeter® certified. Select Bio closures conform to Demeter’s functional specifications for Biodynamic wines, including the stipulations that a Biodynamic® product must not come into contact with packaging containing chlorine, herbicides, or pesticides.
Our current corks are made from compressed cork shavings fused with a food-based polymer. We have experienced many years of success with them, but we’re always looking for ways to improve our practices with the least amount of environmental impact. There is a general assumption in the wine industry that 3-5% of all wine bottles using a natural cork show some signs of spoilage. The most common reason for spoilage is from oxygen ingress that can occur through the space between the bottle neck and the cork, or through the cork itself. In the case of unsulfited wines like ours, oxygen is a particular culprit in affecting the delicate nature of the wine, so finding the proper closure is imperative. We will be running trials with the Select Bio closures over the next year to ensure that this is the right choice for us.
As the season turns to Fall, we have a lovely abundance of fruits and vegetables coming through the garden. For the cold months to come we’re making applesauce, sun dried tomatoes, frozen pears, and even some acorns – all part of the Autumn harvest ritual. The grapes are in full swing, and once they've been harvested from the home ranch, the domestic animals from the farm get to forage in the vineyards once again. Grass is great, but goats have a definite sweet tooth when it comes to munching leftover grapes on the vine!
Grapevine in fall colors after light rain.
Along with the bounty of fresh, ripe produce, the herbs which will grace our dishes for the year to come are in full profusion at present, and it's a lovely and lively time to harvest our spice mixes before the rains and cold take their toll.
We are hoping for a flourish of good, long soaks. We had our first major rain already, and we're all wondering what the weather will bring for the near future! Each morning a cool coastal overcast blankets the sky, so we can harvest comfortably on the early side before the heat sinks in. Little sprouts are popping up in the fields, and the land is thirsty for consecutive downpours. Even that little taste of the wet weather got us all excited about the down time of a farmer's lifestyle: while rains let loose all around outside, we get to curl up with some herbal tea by the stove and read books, plan out next year's garden, and rejoice in the past year's foods in the form of homegrown sourdough wheat breads and warming squash soups.
Canada geese take flight at Frey Vineyards.
At the end of summer one of our cows gave birth to a beautiful heifer calf. The newborn playfully explores the barnyard, getting into mischief that only such a huge baby can! The milking pails are filled to brimming each morning with the new mama in milk, and so we've been working with new cow cheeses in the kitchen. Also, our farm interns just made their first batch of goat milk soap, and are letting it cure in the outdoor kitchen.
Spiderweb in oak tree at edge of vineyard.
By Darlene Buerger, 1st place winner in our Frey Wine Recipe Contest.
I love summertime and the abundance of sweet berries. For me that means berry pie, berry sauce, berries and ice cream or just about anything I can make to enjoy fresh berries. I also love the fresh taste and sweet aroma of Frey Organic Natural Rosé Wine. I decided to incorporate my two favorites into this easy to make, elegant recipe. Who says “You can’t have your wine and eat it too?” This recipe is best when served with an additional glass (or two) of Frey Organic Natural Rosé Wine. Enjoy!
1-8oz roll phyllo dough, thawed
½ cup butter, melted
1½ cup walnuts, chopped
½ cup cherries, pitted, chopped
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ cup honey
½ cup sugar
½ cup Frey’s Organic Natural Rosé Wine
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons shredded sweetened coconut, toasted
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Spray 9x11 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
1) In a medium saucepan combine berries, sugar, flour and 1 teaspoon lemon zest. Cook over low heat 2 to 3 minutes or until berries have broken down and sauce has started to thicken. Cool slightly.
2) Unroll phyllo and remove single sheet. Place on flat surface. Brush with butter and repeat until you have 5 layers. Place phyllo in pan and place ¾ cup walnuts on top of phyllo. Top walnuts with 5 more layers phyllo and butter. Top this layer with berries and 5 more sheets of phyllo and butter. Top this layer with remaining walnuts and 5 more sheets of phyllo and butter. Generously butter top of final layer of phyllo and score top, cutting through all layers into desired size pieces. (3x3 inch squares or diamonds)
3) Bake baklava at 350 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.
4) Glaze: In a saucepan combine honey, sugar, wine and lemon. Heat to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer 6 to 8 minutes or until sauce starts to thicken. (Stir sauce to keep it from burning.) Remove sauce from burner and stir in balsamic vinegar.
5) Pour cooled sauce over the baklava. Sprinkle with *Topping. Allow to set for at least 1 hour before serving.
Goats grazing in Frey organic vineyard.
Spring on the Frey farm has come early this year. The sun shine and rainfall has made a lush and lively winter. Baby lambs frolick in the meadows. Pregnant goat moms are heavy with kids as they take their daily walks to browse and fertilize the vineyards. Our duck and chicken friends have recovered from the cold weather with lots of deep orange egg yolks from their free-ranging escapades. The days on the farm are spent managing the farm animals, lettiing them eat the rich green grasses.
My husband and I tend the herd of goats. We milk and walk the goats each day, and bring them special treats like raspberry and blackberry leaves to prepare them herbally for the kidding season ahead. I try to notice which of the does is "bagging up" in the udder, which indicate she’s pregnant. During this month I'll make several trips to the barn to check if anybody is showing other signs of babies on the way. Fresh straw is spread out, and we partition off parts of the barn as the “delivery rooms.” This year, three goats are expecting: Sophia, Cardamom, and Lhasa. I like to be the midwife, helping along any births, and giving the mother a post-partum tonic of molasses, wheat bran, and ivy (a recipe that I got from Juliette Barclay Levi's fantastic work "The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable").
As the sun warms everything up and the days get longer, we’ve been making Biodynamic preparations. They are made at the farm with ingredients from the farm, and stored in ceramic vessels. We apply the "500" preparation in the spring to bring renewed strength and nourishment to the soil. My father-in-law, Luke Frey, has been studying these Biodynamic formulas for over a decade. The preparations foster vitality in the soil and to the farm as a whole. Biodynamics were brought forth by Rudolph Steiner in 1924, and treat the farm as one large self-sustaining organism. We add these "preps" to hand-swirled water vortices, acting as homeopathic medicinal blessings of fertility and creativity for the farmer, the farm, and the planet. Biodynamics goes beyond organic, connecting the soul to the soil. Click here for more information about Biodynamic agriculture.