Helping the Environment
Local Wildlife Diversity
Biodynamics® and Biodiversity
One of the basic tenants of Biodynamic agriculture is to support biodiversity within the farm landscape. At Frey Vineyards we live on an amazing piece of land. The appreciation for its biodiversity and beauty is a bond that all of the family shares.
The land lies just two miles below the source of the Russian River. No active logging or agriculture goes on above us, so our watershed is unspoiled and pristine. One thousand acres, spread between 900 ft. and 2600 ft., hold a mix of oak and conifer forests, meadows and upland chaparral. Oak and madrone, ancient redwood, Douglas fir, Tanbark-oak (Lithocarpus densiflorus), and ponderosa pine are the primary forest trees. Upland meadows are untouched and the lower 100 acres of meadows have been planted in certified organic and Biodynamic vineyards, leaving 90% of the land as home to a wide mix of plants, and animals such as bears, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, rabbits, skunks. Lizards, frogs, and salamanders coexist with an assortment of mushrooms that appear briefly during the rainy months.
Upholding Biodynamic agriculture standards protects natural habitats and supports and maintains wildlife corridors for many species. Hedgerows and forest are home for beneficial insects and birds, who then keep agricultural pests in a healthy balance. For example, a common grape pest is the grape leafhopper (Erythtoneura), which sucks sap from the grape leaves, robbing the plant of essential nutrients. This can stunt the vines, delaying fruit maturity. Fortunately, a very tiny parasitic wasp (Anagrus epos Girault) over winters in the blackberries bordering our vineyards. In July the female wasps lay their eggs within the eggs of grape leaf hoppers, killing the leaf hopper eggs. This natural biological control removes the need for diozinon or malathion insecticides.
Many bird species enter the vineyards and feed on insects, such as black phoebes, swallows, blackbirds and bluebirds. The bluebirds especially enjoy the birdhouses placed near the ponds to raise their young each spring. Kingfishers, Great Blue Herons, Green Herons, and Great White Egrets frequent the ponds as well. We are also visited by the spectacular Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus), who swoops down from our forests to supplement its diet with vineyard insects. We suspect that it nibbles at the berries when they are ripe, but the very shy bird will not tolerate close approaches. This unique woodpecker, as big as a crow, is a close cousin of the possibly-extinct Ivory-billed Woodpecker of the eastern U.S.
Conserving biodiversity also greatly enhances water quality. Perennial vegetation along our riparian zones helps to control erosion and filters runoff, protecting the purity of our springs and streams it flows through our land and beyond.
Frey Vineyards supports the work of the Wild Farm Alliance. Their website quotes Aldo Leopold, the father of wildlife ecology: "Land, then, is not merely soil; it is a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants and animals." Learn more at: Wild Farm Alliance.
Protecting Local Forests
Our beautiful home ranch provides us with rich, healthy soil to grow our top quality grape vineyards – but that’s only 10% of the land under our care. The other 90% remains wild forestland, home to diverse species of native forests, shrubs, grasses and animals. Protected forestland is vital to a healthy, balanced eco-system, for ourselves, our local community, and our planet. Local botanist and forester, Estelle Palley Clifton works with us to identify and map the plant species and we are in the process of developing a forest management plan to ensure a well maintained eco-system.
Working with the Inland Mendocino Land Trust to ensure future protection of our forests and watersheds, we have put 187 acres into conservation easement, safeguarding it from logging or future development. This includes a canyon with first- and second-growth California redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens), california nutmeg, western dogwood and the rare and exotic calypso orchid. Like our vineyards, all of our land is 100% organic – no synthetic chemicals sprayed anywhere.