Frey Organic Wine Blog
POSTED WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8, 2015 – By Beth Roesler
Spring is bursting forth at our Hopland tasting room, inside the Real Goods Store at the Solar Living Center. The gardens are awash with blossoming flowers and the warm afternoons invite picnicking on the grounds or a post-wine tasting stroll. One of the joys of our tasting room is that we’re located right on Highway 101, but the orientation of the site is completely screened from highway noise and traffic – you are literally immersed in a secret garden with paths, bridges and informative displays. We have a pair of Canada Geese and a pair of Mallard ducks hanging out and scoping the pond areas as potential nesting sites. Since opening the tasting room in 2011 we’ve met so many wonderful folks traveling through the area, and many who have never tried organic wine before and are now loyal customers.
Beth Ann Roesler (right) is our lovely tasting room manager who welcomes guests with her extensive knowledge about our wines.
The Real Goods store has made some new changes recently as well. After almost 40 years since its beginning, founder John Schaeffer has bought back his company from a larger parent corporation that has been overseeing operations out-of-state. John Schaeffer is excited about the upcoming changes that will focus more on locally produced goods and events. "We have a fantastic yurt that people can use for yoga classes or community meetings. We want to offer the community a space for weddings, conferences, concerts and other events…we're installing a sculpture garden and making the site more of a community center instead of a corporate venue," says John. "We'll continue with solar while expanding our focus on renewable energy, permaculture, Biodynamics, urban homesteading, bees, canning, fermenting and much more. The vision is to go back to the old vision, back to our roots –putting the soul back in solar.” We feel like this like-minded environment is a perfect fit for showcasing our organic and Biodynamic wines.
A new sculpture adorns the grounds of Real Goods. "Horn Serpent" is a creation of Upper Lake artist Diego Harris.
Our Hopland tasting room is open daily 11:00am-5:00pm. A few wines per day are served for complimentary tasting, and we have many others on hand for a $5 tasting fee, waived with a purchase of wine. . On Saturday, April 18th, we’ll be joining the festivities at the Solar Living Institute to celebrate Earth Day with live music, food, workshops, and a 15% off wine sale. Click this link for more details.
We’ll also be participating in the Hopland Passport Wine Weekend on Saturday, May 2nd and Sunday, May 3rd, from 11:00am to 5:00pm each day. Click here for tickets and information.
For those of you who are willing to travel a little farther afield, we have a treat in store for you coming soon! We’ll be opening up a second tasting room located at Frey Vineyards in Redwood Valley. Tasting w
ill be available M-F 10am-4pm and we do require a reservation for large groups. Stay tuned for more news on our Grand Opening this summer!
POSTED TUESDAY, APRIL 2, 2015 – By Eliza Frey
Frey Vineyards likes to offer customers a wide range of organic and non-sulfited wines. Among other things, this has led us into producing both Syrah and Petite Sirah wines. The similarity in the names leads many to lump them together. In reality they are distinct varietals with unique histories, characteristics and flavors.
Syrah and Petite Sirah are both technically French Rhone varietals but Syrah enjoys a much richer and storied history. Syrah is one of the parent grapes of Petite Sirah, and one of the most widely planted French varietals, while Petite Sirah, although developed in France in the 1860’s, is almost non-existent in Europe!
Syrah is a Noble grape variety and firmly rooted in French winegrowing. Its origins are ancient and legends of its beginnings abound. Syrah may have been referenced by Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder. Some believe it was brought to France by a crusader returning from his journeys and planted in Hermitage, one of the regions famous for its Syrah wines. DNA profiling in 1999 found Syrah to be the offspring of two obscure grapes from southeastern France: Dureza and Mondeuse blanche, grown for at least 2,000 years. Syrah is a primary component of Côte du Rhone and Châteauneuf-du-Pape blends in France. In Australia it is Shiraz, the most cultivated grape Down Under. Syrah is the seventh most planted grape in California.
Flavors and styles of Syrah are greatly influenced by climate and growing conditions.
French Syrahs are known for subtle flavors of leather, tobacco and “animale,” an almost indescribable flavor hinting of animal, sweat, man or raw meat. Yum! Australian “New World” Shiraz wines are fruit-forward, spicy and full of jammy plum flavors. California Syrahs vary depending on growing region, and here at Frey Vineyards our winemaker Paul Frey always says it is his favorite to work with. Our Syrahs offer a marriage of the two styles: full-bodied, with forward plum juiciness and a subtle finish of rich earthy tobacco and chewy tannins.
While Syrah and Petite Sirah both made their way to California in the late 1800s, original plantings of Syrah were wiped out by the root-eating Phylloxera louse and weren’t reintroduced until the 1950s. Syrah has gained wide acceptance and is now a common grape, still far behind Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, but with over 7,000 acres in production. Petite Sirah plantings in California are older than most other varieties, but it is not widely planted with only an estimated 2,500 acres today.
Unlike Syrah, the origins of Petite Sirah are clear. Petite Sirah was originally named Durif for the viticulturist Francois Durif whose nursery first produced the grape in the 1860s. Durif was bred from a nursery cross-pollination of the noble Syrah grape and Peloursin, an obscure varietal that is now almost extinct in France. For the first century of its existence Durif was seen as nothing more than a useful grape for strengthening weak blends, as it has lots of tannins and color and good acidity.
Durif made its way to California in the late 1800’s where the name Petite Sirah gradually overtook Durif, due to the fact that it is generally less vigorous than Syrah and the berry size is smaller. Local Mendocino County growers commonly refer to their Petite Sirah blocks as their “Pets.” The high skin to juice ratio makes Petite Sirah an inky and full-bodied wine, relatively high in acid with characteristic spicy and peppery tones. Here as well, it was a blender, a common component in field blend plantings where vineyards are planted out to several varieties that are harvested, fermented and aged together. Petite Sirah was not yet embraced as a varietal wine in its own right. That changed in the 1970s and 1980s when California was a hotbed of winemaking innovation and experimentation. Winemakers began to prize Petite Sirah for its unique flavors and cellaring ability and it is now grown throughout the state. In the last fifty years, the grape became more established in the hotter climates of California, Australia, Israel and Mexico than its native Europe.
Frey Vineyards’ Petite Sirah is grown in a relatively cool section of our Redwood Valley Home Ranch, with afternoon shade and cool breezes blowing down the Enchanted Canyon of Mariposa Creek. Our Petite is medium-bodied, with a subtle herbal bouquet, plum and blueberry flavors, and a lingering tannic finish with a touch of spice.
Syrah or Petite Sirah are both well adapted to our hot and dry climate in Inland Mendocino. They are full-bodied rich wines with lots of flavor and color. We encourage you to explore their uniqueness and similarities and look forward to many more vintages of each of these outstanding wines!
Cheers and Happy Springtime!
POSTED WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1st, 2015 – By Derek Dahlen, Frey Organic Vineyard Manager
Peach tree in blossom in Frey organic Syrah vineyard.
April Fools Day dawned early for those who were foolish enough to sign up for vineyard frost protection. The first of April brought our first spring frost in the early morning hours and the first night of Frost Patrol. Temperatures dipped into the low 30s and grape growers throughout Mendocino County scurried about, running overhead irrigation to protect tender new grape shoots from freezing. Looking ahead into April we are anticipating much colder temperatures than we experienced in February and March. We expect many more nights of freezing temperatures before danger of frost ends in mid May.
The current fabled California Drought has created some of the most incredible vintages in recent memory. So far, 2015 has started with the warmest winter on record in California and consequently one of the earliest bud breaks observed on the North Coast. Every variety including Cabernet Sauvignon awoke from dormancy before the first of April. We are fortunately at our average seasonal rainfall for our region now and are looking forward to April showers to bring May flowers - grape flowers, that is!
Mustard cover crop in Frey organic Cab vineyard.
With the cover crops in full bloom and the fields abuzz with insects and birds, we are starting spring field cultivation. We are in the process of spreading composted grape skins, stems and seeds from previous harvests that will be incorporated into the soil when the cover crops are mowed and disked in as a green manure. This introduction of organic matter into the soils year after year is a cornerstone of our organic soil fertility management.
Young plantings of Tempranillo, Barbera and Malbec from 2013 at our Road D Ranch are getting established right on schedule for a first vintage of 2017. This site boasts USGS classified Red Vine Clay Loam soil, renowned for growing hearty red grape varietals in Redwood Valley. We look forward to experimenting with and adding these varieties to our portfolio of organic, additive-free wines.
After three flawless vintages, we are expecting Mother Nature to dish out some heavy weather in 2015. There is an Old Farmer’s Wive’s Tale that for one in every ten years of farming the conditions are perfect, and that is considered the norm. The nine years in between always bring something to complain about. We don’t need 2015 to be an extraordinary year, we’d be perfectly happy with another “normal” vintage! Cheers and good wishes for a happy and healthful spring season!
Crows search for worms and bugs behind the plow.
POSTED WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2014 – By Eliza Frey & Derek Dahlen
Harvesting Frey Organic & Biodynamic Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.
Due to a warm spring and hot dry summer conditions, the 2014 harvest started 2 weeks ahead of average. The first three weeks were very busy because all of the white varietals got ripe at the same time. September and early October were hot, and all berries reached optimal sugar levels ahead of other years, so clusters were allowed to hang and reach physiological ripeness, with nutty seeds, non-bitter skins and gentle tannins. We got some much-needed rain during harvest, but it wasn’t enough to alleviate drought conditions or damage fruit. Across the board, the quality was exceptional and yields were near average.
Vineyard Manager Derek Dahlen at the weigh station.
Frey Vineyards is now farming a new ranch here in Redwood Valley! The Walt Ranch is planted with Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Cabernet and Petite Sirah grapes and was managed organically by veteran grape grower Tony Milani for the past 25 years. Tony passed away in March and we look forward to carrying on his tradition of organic grape farming on this beautiful land.
Adam Frey rescues a Pileated Woodpecker
This year we had visits from several wildlife friends: deer, fox, turkeys and woodpeckers, who live in the adjacent forests and venture out night and day to feast on grapes. We have a mama bear and 2 cubs visiting our apple and fig trees, nightly. Adam Frey rescued a wounded Pileated woodpecker at Road D Ranch and nursed it back to health. Although they eat valuable fruit, we are happy to be surrounded by forests that provide habitat for healthy populations of wild animals, no matter their occasional nibbling!
Moving into November, cover crop seeding, Biodynamic horn manure spraying and compost spreading are nearly completed for the season. We are getting some nice rains this week to enliven the soil for the horn manure and ensure good germination of the cover crops. The grape leaves are turning to fall colors and the vines are headed for dormancy for the winter. The vineyards and their keepers are looking forward to a lull until pruning begins after the winter solstice. In the meantime, we are praying for more rain. Please join us in that endeavor!
We look forward to sharing an excellent 2014 vintage with you soon. Cheers!
Harvest 2014 is over!
POSTED THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2014
Éva-Marie Lind, our in-house parfumeur and CEO/founder of EM Studios Arome in Portland, Oregon, provides us with her next installment of tasting notes for Frey organic and Biodynamic wines. EM Studios Arome specializes in aromatic and olfactory artistry, with a concentration on whole earth ingredients, sensory attunement, and botanical beauty. We love how Éva-Marie’s poetic descriptions take us out of the ordinary Wine Tasting 101 textbook and into a fecund and ethereal world.
2013 Organic Sauvignon Blanc
Sheer delight met my nose as cherries, vanilla and the inference of the sweet, honeyed 2-penylethyl acetate found in freesia danced forward. In the mouth, a symphony of tropical fruit, the blush of apricot feathered with bergamot, and the fragrance of blackberry flowers where they join at the vine. She unfolds as a mountain creek tumbling over rock, opening into deeper and brighter clarity that is held fast to the zest of Sicilian lemon embellished with the slight tang of star fruit.
2013 Organic Chardonnay
Near luminescent in her aroma, she blossoms into hints of pale early spring tulip petals and the inner breath of white lotus, kissed by moon glow, just before dawn. This one jumps forward with a lovely clarity, yet she is surprisingly voluptuous in the mouth where a momentary splash of pink grapefruit announces the structured waltz of d’anjou pear with the inner blushed heart of a pink lady apple, delicately hugged by a butterscotch cape and offering a lovely crisp, well-lingering finish.
2013 Organic Pinot Noir
Meeting my nose appealingly soft with a subtle floral heart sidling to a blush of blueberries and a whisper of balsam fir and clean earth. What appears more simple and straight forward, begins to triumph in the mouth as her elegantly crisp, drier bouquet opens into a more pronounced impression of golden osmanthus blooms and a layering of fruity leather, a touch of tabac, a sheathing of black licorice, and a smooth velour finish.
2013 Biodynamic® Merlot
The delightful surprise of slight toffee malt and new bud spruce meets your nose, with an inference of tamarind, greeting a blushing orchestration of dark berries on the vine. In the mouth, plush and full-bodied, expressing a marion berry compote, teased by the outer shell notes of pink pepper playing tag at the edges, holding hands with the sheerest inference of the sweetened dry-down notes of saffron. Tannins fill the mouth, drawing all these chords together into a brilliant subtlety, as when standing at the center of an orchard at nightfall when sunset blushes upon warm fruit and exhausted air settles into a harmonious center.
POSTED THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 2014 – By Derek Dahlen, Vineyards Manager
There has been a lot of talk about drought this year in California, and two months ago we were in the middle of one of the driest winters on record. Thankfully, since the beginning of February we have seen nearly 30 inches of rainfall in Mendocino County. Lake Mendocino, which provides water locally and for heavier populated Sonoma County downstream is finally filling up. Now, looking around, all of our ponds are overflowing, the hillsides are radiating brilliant shades of green, and the grapevines are awakening from their winter dormancy by sprouting fresh shoots.
Organic Syrah budding out, Frey Vineyards
While grapes can survive in extremely dry climates, water is crucial to grape growing in areas of California like ours for frost protection. While the vines are breaking bud and the tender new growth that will become the fruiting wood for the season is emerging, we often experience killing freezes that can jeopardize the fruit and decimate a vine’s ability to produce to its full potential. To avoid frost damage grape growers use overhead sprinklers. When the nighttime temperatures approach freezing we turn on sprinklers which keep the temperature at 32 degrees and prevent damage to young shoots and leaves. We are still expecting to see some spring frosts, but so far nothing of consequence. This is good for two reasons: it allows us to save our precious water for irrigation during the dry months and it allows grape farmers to get some sleep instead of prowling the vineyards checking thermometers in the wee hours of freezing nights.
The month of April is quite often rampant with the anxieties of spring fever, and this year is no exception. We are wrapping up our vine pruning and tying work. Pruning is very important because it allows a farmer to control crop load, which directly affects quality. We are also moving full speed ahead with our mowing and cultivating operations. The grape prunings are chopped with a shredder and incorporated back into the soil. Disking in between vine rows incorporates organic matter from cover crops and also locks moisture in the soils by breaking capillary action that allows evaporation through the ground.
Long-range forecasts are calling for a hot and dry summer. During hot summers with temperatures over 100 degrees, Mendocino County enjoys temperature swings of up to 50 degree between day and night. This provides the setting for excellent fruit quality because the daytime heat leads to good sugar development and the cool nights keep the acid high, yielding rich and balanced fruit. Although there are still at least five months until we begin harvest, with quite a few variables to consider, I am beginning to believe that this year is going to be a top-notch vintage!
Spring chickens (and a duck) in organic Syrah Vineyard.
POSTED WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9, 2014
We created Organic Agriculturist Blanc exclusively for Whole Foods customers nationwide, later to be available everywhere. It comprises a delicious blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling grapes. Blended as a counterpart to the original Frey Organic Agriculturist red wine, the Blanc follows suit as a food-friendly and versatile white.
Fermentation in stainless steel and minimal manipulation in the cellar keep the flavors crisp and clean. Aromas of honeysuckle lead the way to refreshing tropical fruit flavors, nuanced by starfruit and lychee. Lush Chardonnay forms the body of the blend and Sauvignon Blanc delivers a hint of sweetgrass. A whisper of 5% Riesling provides a delicate touch of citrus-honey on the finish. Like the floral wreath engraving on the label, the Organic Agriculturist Blanc is the epitome of summer’s bounty waiting to burst forth.
Pairs well with grilled fish topped with peach salsa, or Vietnamese lettuce wraps with a sweet chili dipping sauce.
The label features Lily & Rosie Frey at work in the vineyard. The "A Day in the Life..." column reminds us that we know how to intersperse the hard work with good times here at Frey Ranch. The QR code leads to our upcoming video about young organic farmers and our commitment to caring for the earth for future generations.
Look for Organic Agriculturist Blanc at your local Whole Foods market later this spring!
POSTED TUESDAY, APRIL 8, 2014
Join us Saturday, April 12, from 3:00-8:00 pm at Frey Vineyards to celebrate our 3rd Annual Earth Day Biodynamic Farm Tour and Dinner.
Guided farm tours begin at 3:00 pm with a short hike to the barn to visit our farm animals and the bountiful Biodynamic veggie, flower and herb gardens. We'll stroll through the vineyards and olive orchard with a stop off for hors d'oeuvres and wine at the tower. A hay ride brings us back to the winery to celebrate the day with a festive dinner served at 6:00pm in our cellar tasting room. The dinner menu is prepared with seasonal organic ingredients from the Frey Ranch, paired with award-winning Frey organic and Biodynamic wines.
We'll be hosting the tour rain or shine, but we do recommend that you bring boots and an umbrella in case of rain.
Cost for the Farm Tour and Dinner is $45 per person, $30 for Frey Organic Wine Club members. Just the Farm Tour portion of this event is free for Wine Club members and children under 12.
Please call 800.760.3739 or email us (email@example.com) for more information or to RSVP.
POSTED TUESDAY, MARCH 25, 2013 – By Eliza Frey
Forest Stewardship Council release:
“The Forest Stewardship Council mission is to promote environmentally sound, socially beneficial and economically prosperous management of the world's forests.
Our vision is that we can meet our current needs for forest products without compromising the health of the world’s forests for future generations.”
At Frey Vineyards we strive to green every step of our winemaking, from the vineyard to the cellar, and finally to the wine label itself. This year we made the switch to using Forest Stewardship Council Certified paper. We are excited to join forces with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This step is a natural progression in the development of the most environmentally friendly winemaking possible.
In order to include the logo on our labels, the paper must pass through the FSC chain of custody, which ensures sound environmental practices from the forest to the paper manufacturer, the merchant, and finally to a print shop with FSC Chain of Custody Certification. We now have confidence that our label purchasing is supporting an independent, third party movement making real strides towards preserving forestland in the US and abroad.
People all over the world depend on forests to live. Worldwide 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their primary livelihood. Forests filter water and air and the fungal communities in forests support all life on the planet. They are also a crucial refuge for countless plant and animal species. Deforestation is noted as the second leading cause of carbon pollution, and causes an estimated 20% of total global greenhouse gas emissions.
In the US most forestland is privately owned and managed. With more than 40,000 family owned member forests, FSC works to create demand for products sourced from responsibly managed forests. Being a member of FSC provides incentives for these families to keep the forests and harvest them sustainably, and not to clear-cut for development or farming.
The Forest Stewardship Council was founded in Canada in 1993 and is dedicated to improving forest practices across the world. The Council formed in response to the lack of an agreement to stop deforestation at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio De Jaineiro. Boycotts of forest products had proven to be ineffective in protecting these vital ecosystems because they lead to devaluation of productive forestland. FSC started as a collaborative project by independent businesses and organizations. They created a chain of custody process and a logo, which have proven to be successful at encouraging responsible choices by consumers. The organization now operates in 80 countries and thousands of businesses and organizations are turning to FSC to help make responsible choices for the purchasing of forest products ranging from lumber to papers.
Apart from their work with paper, FSC has had a big impact on the manufacturing of green building. Green building represents the strongest sector of the construction industry. In 2012 an estimated 25% of all commercial and 20% of residential construction starts were in the category. FSC features over 1,000 Chain of Custody building products with more emerging each year.
We want to thank FSC staff and members for their dedication and innovation in supporting responsible forestry! We are proud to be a part of this growing movement.
POSTED WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2013
Looking for the perfect gift for the holidays? An annual Frey Organic Wine Club membership can be a great answer! We take care of selecting 4 or 6 bottles of organic and Biodynamic wine, packed 3 times a year, and shipped directly to your lucky recipient, tasting notes and pairing suggestions included. And as an added bonus, you as the gift-giver receive 20% off any wine you purchase from us during the year. You have the option of paying a one-time fee of $150/year for a New Moon (4-bottle/shipment) subscription or $300/year for a Full Moon (6-bottle/shipment) subscription, or pay in 3 installments billed at the time of shipping. Shipping charges are additional.
This year’s Holiday Shipment includes a great selection of new releases, and debuts our new Biodynamic label. We’ll include a gift message explaining the details of the club and a pack of pretty cards from our vineyards. Does your friend prefer just red wines? Ask about our Reds Only option for either club tier. We look forward to welcoming your friends and family to the Frey Wine Club! Call us at 800.760.3739 for more details.
POSTED WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2013
In 2011 we were greatly honored when our family was included in an exhibit at the Grace Hudson Museum, Mendocino County’s premier museum in the city of Ukiah. The exhibit was titled “Look at Who We Are: Stories of Home,” which showcased some of the historical families and institutions of the county. The exhibit included the Yokayo Rancheria, the Greenfield Ranch, the City of 10,000 Buddhas, the Wong Family, Measure H and the ban of GMOs in the county, the long-closed Mendocino State Hospital, the Masonite wood mill, the Palace Hotel, and Hop Production in nearby Hopland. When you visit Mendocino County, don't miss the Grace Hudson Museum on your way through!
Part of the Frey Family exhibit in the Grace Hudson Museum, 2011.
Below are more items from the exhibit including the captions written by the museum.
WINE BOTTLE DISPLAY TOWER
"This wine display was created out of metal scrap by members of the Frey family for a natural products tradeshow in which they participated. These labeled bottles almost span Frey Vineyards winery’s entire existence. All the labels from 1993 onward were designed by Theresa Whitehill at Colored Horse Studios, with the Frey name penned by Papa Frey [and modified by local artist Catherine Woskow], and printed by [local print shop] Mendo Litho. From the top down, the “Organic Wine” illustration was done by Catherine Woscow, the “Biodynamic Wine” illustration by Kate Gould, the “Dessertage Wine” illustration by [Frey in-law Andy Power], the “Natural Rosé” illustration by [local artist] Jan Hoyman [of Hoyman-Browe Studios], and the “Pacific Redwood Red Wine” illustration by Andy Power. [The bottom three original labels were designed by winemaker Paul Frey]."
"Made by members of the Frey family out of local wood and scrap metal, one of these planting hoes’ custom handles is fashioned for a right-handed user and the other is made to fit a left-handed user."
[GRAPE STAKE] POUNDER
"This pounder, made by members of the Frey family, has had extra weight added to its head to better help when driving grape vine stakes into the ground."
GOURD WITH GRAIN
"This grain was recently grown by the Freys as a cover crop, interspersed among the rows of grapes in their [Redwood Valley] vineyards. Three Anderson Valley farmers – Sophia Bates, Doug Mosel and John Gramke – have spearheaded efforts to reintroduce grain production into Mendocino County. The Frey family is participating in this project. The grain thus grown is distributed locally through CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares."
EARTHENWARE WINE JUG
"Paul Frey, head winemaker, commissioned this jug from Ukiah's Hoyman-Browe Studio. The jug's design harkens back to the Classical Greek and Roman eras when similar vessels called amphoras were used for transporting and storing such commodities as wine, olive oil and garum, (a fermented fish sauce). It is used in an experimental wine aging program at Frey Vineyards."
Tomato Sauce, Pickles, Vinegar, Pears
"Frey family members enjoy gardening and grow much of their own organic fruit and vegetables. They pickle and preserve this produce for later use."
"This prestigious “Sustie" (or Steward of Sustainable Agriculture) Award has been nicknamed the “Gourd Award.” It was presented to Frey Vineyards in 1997 at the 17th annual Eco Farm Conference in Monterey, California."
Sierra Nevada Clay
"Local potter Jan Hoyman made this plate in a studio at Frey Vineyards."
"One of the many awards won by Frey Vineyards wine."
POSTED MONDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2013 – By Nicole Paisley Martensen
Sometimes it’s what’s under our noses that is most readily overlooked. Take Frey wine for example. Every day, I answer customers’ questions and extol the virtues of our organic and Biodynamic wine being free of harmful pesticides, free of added sulfites, and free of gluten. I explain how we use holistic vineyard management to sustain a healthy balance in the vineyard instead of reaching for chemical sprays and fertilizers, and how we rely only on naturally occurring sulfites on the skins of grapes without adding any extra sulfites. “And yes, all our wines are gluten-free,” I assuredly confirm.
“But why would wine not be gluten-free?” I found myself asking a year ago, just after I was diagnosed with celiac disease, an auto-immune disease that results in gluten intolerance. Traditional wine is made entirely from fermented grapes and yeast, not wheat, barley, or rye, the glutinous foes of any celiac sufferer. I had already switched to gluten-free beer at that point to avoid the barley in regular brew; why would wine other than Frey suddenly be on the chopping block? And, if other wine is at risk from gluten, what is it that makes Frey wine inherently gluten-free?
I went straight to the source and asked our winemaker, Paul Frey. From my conversation with Paul I learned that wine can come into contact with gluten at two different points during the winemaking process. The first is through the barrel itself. At some cooperages, barrel makers put a small amount of wheat paste in the croze, or groove carved into the top of the staves that secures the barrel head, to help seal the barrel. Although this is known to be a traditionally European practice, several California cooperages I contacted, including barrel makers for Constellation Brands, and Stavin, a popular barrel liner company, use an unbleached flour paste to assure a leak-proof seal on the barrel head. At Frey, we ferment our wine in stainless steel tanks, eliminating the need for any barrel contact. In some of our reds, where oak aging is desired, we submerge oak barrel stave chips that have never had contact with wheat paste. These virgin chips impart an oaky flavor that adds a layer of depth and complexity to our wines.
The second point that gluten can be used in winemaking is during the fining process, which is done to clarify wine. The practice of fining involves using a fining agent to react with color and/or tannin molecules to make them removable by subsequent filtration. Both the fining agent and the color or tannins it reacts with are removed by the filtering; the particles bind to the solids and drop out because they are heavier than the wine. Common fining agents are often protein-based and can include micronized wheat, potassium caseinate (casein is milk protein), food-grade gelatin, egg albumin, or isinglass powder, made from fish bladders. At Frey, we only filter our white wines and we only use bentonite clay as a fining agent. For our reds, Paul Frey prefers other less manipulative techniques to clarify, like softening by aeration. Not only does this mean that our organic wines are free of gluten, but they are also vegan-friendly, because no animal products were used as a fining agent.
Studies have shown that wines fined with wheat show test results with residual gluten levels below the 20ppm threshold required for gluten-free status. And for those wines that are fermented in barrels, most wineries thoroughly pressure wash all barrels with boiling water or steam-clean them before they are used, which would potentially cut down on the possibility of cross-contamination. However, in an effort to control my celiac disease, I‘ve ransacked my medicine cabinet to toss out lip gloss and hairspray made with wheat protein, run out and bought a new cutting board (no crumbs!), and I confine my martini-mixing to potato vodka only. Why would I risk cross-contamination in wine? I do love wine from all over the globe, but knowing what I know now I plan to research a winery a little more ahead of time, seek out wines fermented only in stainless steel, and ask questions about what types of fining agents are used. Most assuredly, I know I can always enjoy a glass of Frey wine with confidence!
POSTED MONDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2013 – By Derek Dahlen
After a near perfect growing season for the second year in a row, the 2013 grape harvest began fast, furious and early. The first grapes came through the crush pad on August 27th, about 2-3 weeks earlier than usual. Then an exceptionally warm and dry autumn stretched the harvest out for 10 weeks until the final load of grapes came in on November 4th! The first and last grapes to pass through the crusher this year were Chardonnay, often the first varietal to be wrapped up. In 33 years of winemaking at Frey Vineyards this has never happened! Every year is different and 2013 was no exception.
Although we had our average of around 50 inches of rain this year, it fell in an abnormal pattern. December 2012 gave us some near flooding rainfall to contend with and we were anticipating a typically wet January 2013 as well, but it barely rained. Next came February, then March, then April, then May. With less than 6 inches of rainfall going into June we were expecting a California drought-like summer, and that is exactly what we got. Wild weather events included a little storm in June, a thundershower on 4th of July after seven days of 100+ degree weather, no rain in August, and an unusually wet storm at the end of September.
Not only was 2013 much drier than usual, it was quite a bit hotter as well. We saw numerous April days in the 90’s. May was next to normal aside from a rogue frosty night on the 28th that nipped the tender flower clusters in some Syrah and Merlot vineyards. June had six days that broke 100 degrees plus another eight days in the 90’s. The dry, windy 111 degree day on Saturday the 8th of June was especially devastating for our Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The delicate grape flowers were just beginning to set berries, and in some fields we actually watched them falling off in the breeze. The fruit simply got cooked in the heat.
After surviving 17 days between 100 and 112 degrees in July the vines enjoyed a relatively mellow August in Redwood Valley. With all the stress associated with the dry heat we began to see veraison (grape color change) in mid-July as opposed to early August. We had to kick it into high gear to prepare for an early and potentially fast-paced harvest. We had just completed installing irrigation and planting almost 16 acres of new vines in three different fields when harvest began with a bang!
The first weeks in August were full of activity. We harvested white grapes in the wee hours of the morning to bring them in cold for optimal whole cluster pressing. We spent time working out the mechanical kinks in the equipment and started the process of visiting vineyards to test sugars and acids and lay out the harvest schedule. Everything seemed to be happening at once, but then the weather shifted.
Despite two wet storms in September, October provided near perfect fall ripening conditions. We let our red grapes hang until they were fully physiologically ripe, perfect for organic, low intervention winemaking. With the good weather the sense of urgency lessened and we had one of our longest harvest seasons. It started early and stretched into a slow, lingering finish after 69 days. The wines are still young but are tasting great! We look forward to a great vintage with outstanding quality. Get ready for some delicious 2013 wines. Cheers!
POSTED SUNDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2013 – By Chloe Tucker
Chloe is a musician, teacher and writer residing in Northern California. Her website can be found here.
The Natural Red table wine from Frey Vineyards couldn’t be more welcoming. It is an old friend who may not know the finer details of your every-day life, but who never fails to invite you over for a glass when you most need it. Such is this wine. It is not complex, nor is it showy. It is sincere. It is full of warmth and body. It gives a good hug.
From Pour to Finish
Directly after the pour, blackberries filled the glass. They were heavy and excited, the first bloom of summer fruit. After twenty minutes, the blackberries calmed down, and invited blueberries and black currants to their midst. Apples were the wallflower; barely there but keenly observant, promising to deliver a witty remark later. The bold berries were the life of the gathering, yet unpretentious and approachable. Already, the fruits longed to be balanced by the brooding, hopeful tellicherry peppercorn, roasted in olive oil. Already, white fish was on the menu.
The first sip was surprising. There was small acidic bite, and a fresh body reminiscent of the aroma when I first popped the cork. A bottle full of summer blooms. It balanced quickly as the berries took the main stage, smoothing the texture and solidifying the overall fruity character. And then it was over. No sooner had the berries began chatting, than the apple I detected earlier, peaked, delivered a cutting one-liner, and the finish arrived. It was decisive and strong. The berries exited the floor in a melancholy fashion, kicking up dust, leaving the dryness of empty blackberry vines in their wake.
It was as a day in mid-September, when night falls a little sooner than expected, but no one is worse for wear, because the day was so refreshing. No sooner had the dry soil and empty blackberry vines of Northern California been alluded to, than the undertones of sage and marjoram arrived. They were a pleasant addition to the wine’s character, a sudden depth, and would lead to the ultimate choice for the pairing.
From the aroma alone, I would’ve suggested striped bass with a peppercorn, chili, and lime relish, and an avocado garnish. But after the finish dropped off, a Provençal herbal dish seemed more appropriate, to encourage a more gradual finish. With the right pairing, the finish will echo faintly on the palate, rather than skip away before the dishes are cleaned up.
The Frey Natural Red requires a baked white fish, trout or striped bass, a strong salt-of-the-earth flavor to coax the herbal notes from the wine.
Main dish: Marinate the fish fillets in dried herbs, including thyme, marjoram, one dried bay leaf, several whole garlic cloves, fresh parsley, and a diced quarter of a red onion. Sprinkle Himalayan sea salt over. Bake the fillets in foil. Serve with fresh parsley and a wedge of lemon, on a bed of spring greens (including arugula!).
Side dish: roast whole Tellicherry peppercorns in a cast iron pan, add a liberal amount of jalapeño olive oil (if unable to locate, add a pinch of finely diced jalapeño pepper to Extra Virgin olive oil), and let sit for two minutes. Dice a dozen or so cherry tomatoes, and fry until cherry tomatoes are soft. Top with fresh parsley.
Also heat a loaf of rosemary bread in the oven, serve next to the side dish. Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano would go well over either the main dish or the side dish – take your pick.
All in All
If you’re looking to recreate summertime in the late fall, pair this wine with a richly earthy herbal fish dish. For dessert? Try a lemon meringue bar topped with a couple of fresh blackberries. So, pick up a bottle and a couple of old friends, and make a late summer feast with a couple bottles of this Frey Natural Red. Hugs all around.
POSTED WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 21, 2013 – By Katrina Frey
It’s been a very busy summer here. Our 2013 crop is shaping up very well. In spite of the various weather extremes, frost at the end of May and heat spikes in July, the grapes are thriving. Cabernet Sauvignon looks particularly robust. It’s a one in five year heavy crop set. Cabernet continues to be our most popular red varietal and we have a delicious 2011 offering right now.
The grapes are moving into veraison, a term that indicates the berries beginning to change color. Green Chardonnay grapes soften to a frosted gold and begin to acquire their individual flavors reflecting this particular time and place. Each year the wines tell a different story. For example our 2012 Organic Chardonnay is filled with distinctive, crisp fruit and a caramel golden finish; a mirror of the great harvest of 2012.
Pinot Noir berries are the first reds to reach veraison, moving from green to a luscious purple. It looks like a great Pinot year, which is a good thing since our popular 2012 Pinot is selling so briskly that it will soon be gone.
There are now 14 new acres of grapes, Tempranillo, Muscat, Barbera and Malbec.
The Malbec will probably become part of one of our popular blends, Natural Red, Organic Agriculturist and Biodynamic® Field Blend. We’re discovering blends have the capacity to become a complex intriguing whole that is more than their individual parts.
Frey biodynamic zinfandel vineyard and row of olive trees.
POSTED MONDAY, AUGUST 19, 2013 – By Nicole Paisley Martensen
13 billion bottles of wine are consumed annually -- that’s a lot of corks left over when the drinking is done! At present, the majority of corks end up in landfills instead of in re-use applications; in the hands of ReCork, they can have a second use. ReCork is North America’s largest cork recycling initiative and is giving wine corks new life in the form of footwear and other upcycled products.
With the help of over 1,700 recycling partners, ReCork has collected over 44 million corks. ReCork frequently partners with wineries, restaurants, wine bars, grocery stores and hotels to collect natural corks. Once collected, the corks are ground down and repurposed for use in new consumer products. SOLE, ReCork’s parent company, produces cork-soled footwear for women and men. In addition to shoes, recycled cork can also be used in flooring, gaskets, bulletin boards, sports equipment, and even used as a soil amendment in compost (natural cork is a valuable source of CO2 retention).
Compared to aluminum screwcaps and petroleum-based plastic plugs, the production of traditional cork wine stoppers has the smallest environmental footprint. While some alternative closure manufacturers are beginning trial recycling efforts, natural cork is still the easiest and best material to recycle: it is biodegradable, renewable, energy efficient, sustainable and 100% natural.
Unlike many forest products, cork oaks are never cut down for their bark. Cork oaks (Quercus suber L.) provide an ideal sustainable crop during a life cycle that lasts over 200 years. A mature, 50 year-old tree can be harvested approximately every 9 years for the life of the tree. Here in California, you can find giant cork oaks on the grounds of the State Capital in Sacramento, on the campus of UC Davis, and a few scattered around as specimen trees in Mendocino County. However, the Mediterranean basin is where most of the world's cork is sourced. There are nearly 6 million acres of cork forests in the Mediterranean regions of Portugal, Spain, Algeria, Morocco, Italy, Tunisia and France, with Portugal being the largest producer by far. The Mediterranean cork oak forests are the basis of an ecosystem which is unique in the world, and which contributes to the survival of many native species of plants and animals, including the endangered European gray wolf and the Mountain Iberian wild goat. It is also a source of employment for tens of thousands of agricultural workers. In addition to their recycling program, ReCork has partnered with QUERCUS (the Portuguese National Association for Nature Conservation) and Criar Bosques, a tree planting initiative in Portugal, and planted over 8,000 cork oaks in the Mediterranean.
Want to know how to get involved? The simplest way is to drop off your corks at a ReCork Public Collection Partner in your area. We’ve been collecting our corks at the Frey Ranch and then dropping them off at our local Ukiah Food Co-op, but you can use ReCork’s nifty drop-off locater to find a location near you. If there is no partner in your area, you can send your corks directly to ReCork in 15lb increments, shipping charges paid. 15lbs equals about 1650 corks (that’s a lot of Frey wine!) so we recommend banding together with your neighbors or workplace to make a joint effort in collecting. By recycling a simple cork stopper we can visualize the product source, its evolution into a useful natural product, and its potential for an extended life far beyond its first use in a bottle of fine wine.
POSTED MONDAY, AUGUST 19, 2013 – By Nicole Paisley Martensen
When: Saturday, September 7th, 4-8pm
Where: At our tasting room at the Solar Living Center (map) on Hwy 101 in Hopland
Call us to reserve your spot:
1-800-760-3739 Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm PST
or email us with your RSVP
Come one, come all! You don’t have to be a Frey Wine Club member to come to our party (although we’ll place bets that by the end of the night, you’ll want to become one!) Our Wine Club events are great gatherings with wonderful food and plenty of wines to taste. We hope you’ll join us for our Sept. 7th party at our tasting room in Hopland. The Solar Living Center is the beautiful backdrop for this lovely summer evening, featuring a delectable dinner prepared with local & organic ingredients, live music, and of course, Frey wine.
A special treat will be a tour of the grounds led by Real Goods founder, John Schaeffer. John's quest for renewable energy and sustainable living brought him to Mendocino County in the early 70's and led him to follow an holistic path in concert with the Frey family's values for a healthy planet. The 12-acre demonstration gardens at the Solar Living Center continue to showcase his passion for permaculture, organic farming, and "Living Structures." We know you'll enjoy this inspirational tour!
$40 for wine club members and their guests,
$55 for non-members.
POSTED SATURDAY, AUGUST 17, 2013 – By Eliza Frey
"The Organic Vineyard Alliance (OVA) is a group of winemakers, retailers and distributors who have come together to educate, inform and enlighten you about the benefits of organic wine." - From the OVA Website.
For those of you who love staying informed about the latest in the organic wine industry, a great new website has just been launched. The Organic Vineyard Alliance has been spearheaded by seasoned industry members and offers knowledge and clarification around organic wine.
The site is easy to navigate and full of great information. There is a series of videos featuring our executive director Katrina Frey and other organic winemakers. Also check out the awesome table that lays out the differences between wine categories including USDA Organic, Made with Organically grown grapes, Biodynamic and more.
As time goes on this website is sure to become a clearinghouse for the savvy consumer who wants to keep up to date on the latest and greatest that the industry has to offer. Start exploring now!
POSTED THURSDAY, JUNE 27, 2013
We've long known that Pinot Noir is widely popular among this planet's wine lovers. What we didn't know was which brand is likely favored in the galaxy at large. George Takei (Sulu) of Star Trek fame gives his best guess, spotted recently in Los Angeles by our intrepid regional rep Lee Boek. Looks like only organic wine gets beamed up! Thanks for the photo, Lee!
Sulu preparing to beam up.
POSTED TUESDAY, MAY 14, 2013
Katrina Frey was interviewed by Elizabeth Dougherty at Food Nation Radio. They talk about GMO yeasts, wine labling standards, and wine additives. Click here to listen!
Elizabeth Dougherty of Food Nation Radio
POSTED TUESDAY, APRIL 30, 2013
Our lovely vegan-friendly Organic Chardonnay has been nominated for Vegetarian Times' 2013 Foodie Awards! You may vote for your favorite vegan wine by clicking here.
POSTED WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17, 2013 – By Katrina Frey
It's April and things are jumping in our Biodynamic® vineyards! We've just completed pruning, and now are tying the newly pruned canes onto the trellis.
The April days are warm, but frost still threatens some nights. Our valiant frost team of Adam, Derek, Tommy and Jonathan are alerted by remote thermometers when the temperature dips to 36 degrees. Then they arise from warm beds and head to the fields to be poised to turn on sprinklers just before temperatures reach the freezing point. The moving water protects the tender grape buds and stays on until the sun rises. It's common to have frosts in April, and not unheard of to have a frost or two in May.
Preparation is also underway to plant 12 more acres of vines. We're very excited to be introducing six new varietals into our vineyards. Two acres each of Malbec, Grenache, Moscato, Barbera, Tempranillo (Spain's noble grape) and Vermentino, also known as Rolle, are all varietals that should thrive in our climate. If all goes well, we'll begin making unique organic wines from them in 2016!
POSTED WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17, 2013 – By Craig Wilkinson
In January of this year, Craig Wilkinson, founder of Quantum Culture, a venture creating and trading biodynamically produced and processed goods, visited us here at the winery during the annual Biodynamic Association of Northern California (BDANC) meeting. Craig had been looking forward to conducting an experiment with Biodynamic® dyes for some time, so the weekend BDANC conference at Frey Vineyards was the ideal testing ground. Craig prepared biodynamically grown cotton tee shirts and bandannas in a mordant of alum, and formulated three dye baths: one made from grape lees, another from a filtered grape juice, and one from actual finished wine. Of his experiments, Craig provides the following notes:
- The first dye bath was made from a slightly diluted soupy batch of grape lees, which are the sediment left following the grape crush. The mix was heated for several hours and again the following day. The colors it produced were the lightest of the three baths.
- The second dye bath was made from ‘waste wine,’ which is grape juice collected from the pre- and post-pumping process. The colors were very nice with darker results.
- The third bath was made from nearly a case of 2005 Frey Biodynamic® Syrah made from biodynamically grown grapes. The color was beautiful, and the darkest of the three. The color set very quickly for both the juice and wine, and required no filtering, which made it easier and efficient to work with. Luke Frey and I enjoyed a glass of the Syrah while opening and pouring bottles of wine into the dye vat.
We’re excited about the range of colors, the colorfastness, and the potential for a volume dye bath made from biodynamic winemaking byproducts, and we’re appreciative of Craig’s dedication to the project. Please visit quantumculture.com to view the scope of the research project and find more products made from biodynamically grown cotton.
POSTED MONDAY, APRIL 15, 2013 – By Eliza Frey
Do you think about how much pesticide residue is in your wine before you drink it?
Testing by EXCELL Laboratories in France from the 2009 and 2010 vintages found that only 10% of 300 French wines were free of pesticide residue*. The majority of residues found were fungicides, which are applied late into the growing season. EXCELL Laboratory, which is owned and operated by Pascal Chatonnet, an innovative figure in the French wine business, now plans to offer pesticide residue testing to winery clients. Wines tested that contain no more than five substances in levels 100 times lower than the Maxium Residue Limits Set by the EEC** will be able to use EXCELL’s certification, called “+ Nature”. The idea is to have a scale of pesticide residue that can be put on wine labels so that consumers can choose wines with less contamination.
A similar study by the European Pesticide Action Network in 2008 found that 100% of conventionally farmed wines in Europe contained pesticide residues. Many of the wines contained traces of several different pesticides. (Download a PDF of the report here.) The organic wines tested in the study were all free of pesticides except one; researchers expected the presence of pesticides in the organic wine was due to chemical drift.
The EPA in the US and the EEA (European Environment Agency) would tell you not to worry because the levels of all pesticides were within the legal acceptable limits for each individual substance. This approach fails to look at cumulative levels of all pesticides that were found. Also, lack of research about how these substances interact in combination is a valid concern. As Chatonnet explains, “It is possible that the presence of several molecules combined is more harmful than a higher level of a single molecule.” Chatonnet and others advocate an industry wide shift towards less toxic pesticides, coupled with more precise application methods to avoid overuse of toxic substances.
These studies indicate the benefit of choosing Organic and Biodynamic wines and wines made from Organic and Biodynamic grapes. Not only do they lessen the impact on the environment, they lessen the consumer’s chemical burden. And now, with consistent growth in the Organic and Biodynamic wine sectors, there is more variety than ever before. Cheers To Your Health!
* You can read Decantuer magazine’s summary of EXCELL’s research here.
** The EEC is the EU-Eco Regulation, which is label for products and services that have a reduced environmental impact in the European Union. While raw agricultural commodities are subject to Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) set by EEC agreements, MRLs do not apply to processed foods, including wine. More info can be found here.
POSTED SUNDAY, APRIL 14, 2013
Éva-Marie Lind, our in-house parfumeur, describes this month’s Wine Club selection. Empowered by passion, botanical beauty, science, and authenticity, Éva-Marie Lind is a Designer, Olfactory Artist, Perfumer, Healing Arts Facilitator and the CEO/founder of EM Studios Arome in Portland, Oregon. Ms. Lind has devoted over 30 years to innovations in scent and flavor, with the unique distinction that all ingredients are devoted to natural, ecological, and sustainable tenets. Focused to authenticity, transparency and integrating her work at source, seed to bottle, she has become a uniquely honed, one-of-a-kind design specialist in the field of aromatic and medicinal plants. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here, Ms. Lind shares her sensory perceptions of the Frey Organic Wine Club selection for spring, from a perfumer's perspective.
Sauvignon Blanc 2011
She opened with the fresh zest of pink grapefruit kissed by grassy notes of lemongrass and perilla (shiso) leaf. A floral, powdery refrain of creamy honeysuckle, when the evening sun dips in the sky sufficiently to kiss her warmed waxy petals underneath, exposing her ‘winey’ impressions. Lemongrass unfolds, offering a sensation of fresh grated ginger, slightly pungent, lemony, laced with ribbons of honey and a spicy-sweet wood under-note. In fusion with the green, apple-pip of shiso, she lifts into a bright vibrancy. In the mouth there was an addition of juicy melon that merged to a seamless minerality, where all elements, that might otherwise appear resilient to one another, danced in harmony, and offered a lingering finish.
Pinot Noir 2012
This wine began with a bright yet delicate aroma that spoke to me of cashmere and Turkish rose petal, that offers less in her roseaceous characteristics, exposing more presence of her leaf and fruitiness, with an underskirt of soft spice. Teased with lemon blossom and brushed lightly with wild fennel and a hint of sweet cedar beneath. In the mouth she was slightly tart and delightfully soft, exposing cassis (black currant) having a simultaneous flirtation with sweet cherry, plum, a fringe of rhubarb and the suggestion of toasted caramel. She finished with a whisper of the floral that began at her nose.
She blossomed with a brushing of cassis merged with the creamy violet demeanor of orris butter, subtle blueberry and a hint of Tarocco orange zest with a gourmand underskirt. In the mouth her blueberry notes became bolder, opening to expose a surprise accent of sweet cherry and a hint of acai. Brighter notes of cassis followed, further feathered by orris, with accents of oakwood, the slightly peppered, fruity notes of clove bud and the sweet buttery notes offered from the cœur (heart), of zeylanicum cinnamon. Her ending was balanced with a refined, slightly smoked, earthy finish.
Biodynamic Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Uncorking the bottle was as if blackberry and fig were shaking hands, with a dusting of cacao and a hint of oak upfront. Nose deeper, caramel and the inner heart of nutmeg reached forward. In the mouth she was plush, with a lovely rush of herbaceous tannins, that held a suggestion of tarragon leaf before she is crushed, a touch of golden tobacco exposing glimmers of sun-dried hay that merged with a lingering of sweet wood offering a subtle richness weighted by dryness. All held a wonderful balance in the mouth with a lovely finish.
POSTED FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2013
From the "Before It's Used" website, here's what one intrepid blogger made from a used bottle of Frey Organic Agriculturist. We could say this bottle contains a literal bouquet of rosemary and daffodil. If describing wine were always this easy!
POSTED WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2013
On January 28-30 Katrina and Jonathan Frey attended the Millésime Bio, the largest organic wine trade show in the world, held in Montpellier, France. The festival was particularly special this year, not only because of its 20-year anniversary, but also because Frey won a gold medal for our 2010 Organic Cabernet Sauvignon! To be chosen out of nearly 700 exhibitors from 11 countries in Europe, South America, and South Africa was quite an honor (we likened it to the organic wine version of the “Judgment of Paris” in 1976!) and we were proud to be the only medal winner from the U.S. In addition to the annual wine competition, the 3-day trade conference holds seminars on organic winemaking, wine tourism, resistant grape varieties, and the new European winemaking regulations.
Established in 1993 by a group of winemakers in Languedoc-Rousillon, the Millésime Bio continues to be the gold standard for international organic wine. This is Frey’s fourth year participating in the event, and it’s always a great venue for catching up with some of our organic pals. “It’s a great exchange of knowledge,” says Katrina Frey. “We’re very excited to see more European interest in non-sulfited winemaking.”
Meeting our UK distributors John and Jane Lang from GoodWineOnLine. Interest in Biodynamic wine is huge in the UK.
Jonathan discusses additive-free winemaking with Rodrigo Filipe from Portugal, who just made his first non-sulfite wine, Humus.
Eve Cartier from the Provence winery Mas de Gourgonnier worked with us 7 years ago. They produce beautiful organic olive oil and wines, and now a sulfite-free wine.
New friends Karl and Eva Schnabe, from Weingut in Austria. The Schnabels make natural wines and pasture cows in their vineyards.
POSTED TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2013 – By Eliza Frey
At Frey Vineyards, we began working with spontaneous fermentations in 1996 when we released the first certified Biodynamic wine in North America. We are now big fans of how spontaneous fermentations uniquely bring out the terroir of a site and allow the wine drinker to have a tasting experience that mirrors climate, vintage and vineyard.
What is spontaneous fermentation? During the grape crush, yeast is usually added to the grape juice to “kick start” the fermentation. For our line of organic wines, we use certified organic yeast. For our line of Biodynamic wines we rely on spontaneous fermentation – no kick-starter yeast is added. Instead natural yeasts that already live on the grape skins get the fermenting going. Yeast ferments the grape juice by eating up the sugar, which gets converted into alcohol. Later, the yeast sinks to the bottom of the tanks.
The goal of Biodynamic winemaking standards is to promote the production of wines that are in sync with the core principles of Biodynamic farming: reliance on site available inputs, sustainability and diversity. Spontaneous fermentations are required to ensure that each wine is the result of the local yeast populations of the vineyard where the grapes are grown. This allows the wines to express the complexity of the vineyard biology and it allows the wine drinker to experience the nuances between different vineyards and vintages.
At Frey Vineyards, we are relative newcomers to this age-old practice. People have been making wine through wild fermentations for thousands of years. Grapes are one of the few fruits that have enough natural sugar to ferment spontaneously. Grape fermentations also served as the original starters for other fermentations, from sourdough bread to beer. While people knew that wine would result when grapes were crushed and left to sit, they didn’t need to understand the life cycles of yeast or the extent and complexity of their populations.
Louis Pasteur first isolated and identified yeast in the 1800’s. By that time people had already refined and industrialized the process of fermentation. The wine business was huge, with global production, trade and distribution. While Pasteur’s discovery didn’t change the way wine was produced overnight, it led the way to the standardization of wines. Once yeasts were identified, people began to study them and isolate them and eventually to control which yeasts carried out fermentations.
There are several genera of yeast in the world and spontaneous fermentations involve numerous strains of wild yeasts that are localized in the vineyard. Grapes fresh off the vine are teeming with wild yeasts. In spontaneous fermentations each of the yeasts does a little bit of the fermenting, with the more fragile, less alcohol-tolerant strains starting the fermentation and the more robust ones finishing off in higher alcohol environments. Each strain of yeast is best suited to certain conditions and each produces specific byproducts that affect the flavor and aroma of the wine. The result is a wine that is more complex and that is a unique expression of the site where it was grown.
Winemakers in the past had to get by with whatever populations of yeast were found in their vineyards and wineries. Once people understood what yeast were and how they grow and reproduce they were able to isolate and grow certain strains by taking yeast from active fermentations, isolating them and growing them on a substrate (some kind of sugar). Yeasts were selected for certain characteristics, such as flavor profile, alcohol, temperature, pH and sulfite tolerance. People could overpower native yeast populations with introduced strains. They could pasteurize juice that was rotten, then effectively ferment it. Such approaches allow more uniformity in the winemaking process. For mass produced, large-scale industrial winemaking this approach works well because the results are predictable in spite of fluctuations in climate and growing region. This advance also results in a loss of complexity and flavors because the fermentation environment is essentially a monoculture.
At Frey Vineyards, we are big fans of natural processes and diversity and it has been exciting and rewarding to produce Biodynamic wines through spontaneous fermentations. We have noticed that our wild fermented wines have an increased complexity of aroma and flavor and we love the surprises that come from each year. We hope you join us in this return to age-old methods by trying some of our Biodynamic, wild fermented wines. From the vineyard to the table, they are delicious examples of the natural chemistry of grapes and wild yeasts.
POSTED WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30, 2013
Frey Vineyards 2011 Field Blend was crafted specifically for Whole Foods customers. Our goal with Field Blend was to produce a Biodynamic® example of terroir at its finest expression, where soil, varietal character, and vintage culminate in an authentic representation of our vineyards.
Field Blend is graced with a subtle nose of red currant, a hint of star anise, iron, and rose hips. The flavors lend themselves to an available freshness showing dewberry, white pepper, red beet, and a touch of licorice. The finish is balanced with apricot, kola nut, and cherry bark. While 2011 presented a challenging growing season for much of Northern California, it also prompted us to take a creative approach with some unconventional blends. For Field Blend, we took the best of our estate-grown grapes, starting with our Syrah for composed structure, melding it with our Zinfandel for added spice, and rounding everything out with our soft, plummy Merlot. Field Blend pairs harmoniously with grilled flank steak with olive sauce, paella with spicy sausage, or penne with porcini mushrooms.
The Field Blend label was designed by our wine club director, Nicole Paisley Martensen. It incorporates a collage of vintage astrological charts and farmers’ almanacs, evoking the origins of Biodynamic farming and its founder, Rudolf Steiner, along with photographs of grapevines and tractor treads at Frey Vineyards.
Field Blend will be available in many Whole Foods stores nationwide starting February 1st.
Click on the photo for a short video about this delicious wine.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Farm tours start at 3:00pm, Dinner starts at 6:00pm
POSTED TUESDAY, JANUARY 29, 2013
Join us at Frey Vineyards in Redwood Valley to celebrate Earth Day with our 2nd Annual Biodynamic farm tour and dinner prepared with seasonal organic ingredients from the Frey Ranch. We had such a great time last year that we want to do it again!
Wine Club members let us know they had a wonderful time and will keep coming back. Marcia Riwney from Fort Bragg, CA said: “Our walk through the vineyards was a highlight, and our tour guide, Johnny Frei, was so well-informed and interesting.”
Guided farm tours begin at 3:00 pm and commence with a short hike to the barn to visit baby lambs and goats, and peruse the bountiful ranch gardens that provide organic veggies, flowers, and herbs. Wine at the Tower will be one of the stops along the way, as we stroll through the vineyards and olive rows. We’ll circle back to the winery and celebrate the day with a festive dinner served at 6:00pm in our cellar tasting room. The dinner menu will include a main course with vegan option, salad, and breads baked with Frey Ranch wheat, paired with award-winning Frey organic and Biodynamic wines.
We'll be hosting the tour rain or shine, but we do recommend that you leave your dancing shoes in the car and bring boots and an umbrella for potential April showers!
Cost for the Farm Tour and Dinner is $45 per person, $30 for Frey Organic Wine Club members. Just the Farm Tour portion of this event is free for Wine Club members and children under 12. For information on becoming a Wine Club member, please call 707.468.7936 or visit our Wine Club page.
POSTED SATURDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2012 – By Molly Frey
Please join us to start the new year with a focus on biodynamic agriculture. On January 4th, 5th, and 6th the Biodynamic Association of Northern California (BDANC) will be hosting the Winter Meeting at Frey Vineyards. Friday will begin with a day long workshop led by Dennis Klocek titled "Biodynamics, a Rosicrucian Path" (see this flyer and this flyer for details). Then, Saturday will be a free forum for biodynamic farmers from all walks to gather, share the fruits of the harvest, and discuss our local biodynamics movement; Dennis Klocek will also give a keynote speech on Fundamental Esoteric Principles of Preparation Making.
For more information and contact info, please refer to the Biodyanmic website or call 707-485-8684 for meal reservations. The basic outline of the weekend is below.
FRIDAY JAN 4
Pre-Meeting COROS Event
(requires separate registration www.COROS.org)
9:00-5:00 Biodynamics: a Rosicrucian Path with Dennis Klocek includes gourmet luncheon
6:00 Catered dinner and BDANC planning session followed by socializing and singing
SATURDAY JAN 5
7:00 Catered breakfast
8:30 Eurythmy with Cynthia Hoven
9:45 Welcome and Announcements
10:00 Fundamental Esoteric Principles of Preparation Making keynote by Dennis Klocek
11:15 Questions about BD Preparations
11:30 National BD Conference Review
12:30 Potluck Lunch
2:00 Nature Walk with Cathy Monroe Time for conversations
4:00 Book Study: Functional Threefoldness Led by Luke Frey
6:30+ Catered dinner followed by socializing ... bring your musical instruments, singing voices and dancing feet!
SUNDAY JAN 6
7:00 Catered breakfast
8:30 Eurythmy with Cynthia Hoven
10:00 Annual BDANC planning session (wrap up) Guided group activity (to be announced)
12:30 Catered lunch, cleanup and departure
We hope to see you there!
POSTED WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2012
We’re excited to be opening our first tasting room at the Real Goods Solar Living Center. The premiere location is located on Hwy 101 in the historic town of Hopland.
We’re looking forward to being able to receive visitors at a more easily accessible location than our winery, and we’ll also be able to share our organic and Biodynamic® wines with you seven days a week! Our tasting bar is located inside the Real Goods store and features a daily menu of Frey wines to try, and a full selection of our wines for purchase.
The tasting bar itself was constructed by Ben Frey, a master woodworker and craftsman. Ben utilized recycled redwood boards from an historic 1912 house in Hopland. The bar countertop is fashioned from slabs of a black walnut tree planted at the original Alex Thomas homestead in Ukiah. When the 80-year old tree died, Ben requested permission to mill the wood, and we’re honored to create a space that emphasizes renewability and sustainability, and is rooted in the history of our local environment. Behind the bar, a beautiful large-scale oil painting by Andy Power commissioned specifically for the space, depicts the vineyards, coastline, and wilderness of Mendocino County.
Our new location within the Solar Living Center property is a perfect harmony of like-minded ideologies. Founded in 1998 by John Schaeffer, the Solar Living Center continues to promote renewable energy systems through their extensive classes, store, and online catalogue.
Visitors to the Frey Tasting Room can enjoy the 12 acres of organic gardens, ponds, straw bale buildings, and water filtration system demonstrations. The Real Goods store is stocked with earth-friendly products, books, and healthy snacks. Guests are welcome to bring a picnic and there is also a fun and informative children’s play area. We look forward to meeting you and pouring you a taste of our organic sulfite-free wines!
Opening on November 5th.
The Frey Tasting Room is open 7 days a week, 11-5pm.
13771 S Highway 101
Hopland, CA 94559
View Frey Organic Wine Tasting in a larger map
POSTED TUESDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2012
We created Organic Agriculturist exclusively for Whole Foods customers and we’re proud to report that Whole Foods has named it one of their Top Ten Picks for Holiday 2012!
Organic Agriculturist is the first in a proprietary line for Whole Foods and is a delicious blend of Carignan, Merlot, and Syrah grapes. These traditional Rhone and Bordeaux varietals are processed without added sugars, acids, or preservatives, creating a fruit-forward California-grown red wine. Our overall pursuit with Organic Agriculturist was to blend an exceptionally food-friendly wine. A spicy, aromatic nose gives way to damson plum and plush berry tones on the palate. The firm structure and grippy tannins of the Carignan and Syrah provide a well-balanced backbone for savory roasted meats, while the softness of the Merlot informs a delicate touch that would compliment vegetarian cuisine. Aged with a touch of French oak, the wine has a lingering cedary finish along with a hint of allspice that makes this a perfect holiday choice.
The Organic Agriculturist label was designed by our wine club director, Nicole Paisley Martensen. In creating the look, Nicole looked to vintage paper goods and an updated nostalgia for an agrarian lifestyle. "Frey Ranch is a unique wrinkle in time, and we wanted to translate the cyclical nature of the hard work involved in caring for the land, and the bounty and enjoyment it provides," she states.
Organic Agriculturist will be available in many Whole Foods stores nationwide starting November 1st. We’ll also be offering it to wine club members only as a limited release in the upcoming Holiday Wine Club Shipment. It pairs well with spice-crusted rack of lamb, caramelized shallots and roasted root vegetables, or a fennel and blood-orange salad.
POSTED TUESDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2012
Attention California Voters –
Vote Yes on Prop 37! It’s our Right to Know!
Endorse! Volunteer! Donate! www.carighttoknow.org
Did you know that 80-85% of the processed foods you buy in America contain Genetically Engineered ingredients? Did you know that 61 other countries require the labeling of Genetically Engineered ingredients?
On November 6th, 2012 California voters will go to the polls for Proposition 37, the California Right to Know Act, which will require labeling of Genetically Engineered ingredients on food labels. This landmark initiative will confirm Californians’ Right to Know what they are eating and it will pave the way for ingredient labeling across the nation.
Studies show that 90% of Americans across party lines favor labeling of GMO foods. That is why No on Prop 37 is spending 1 million dollars a day to run misleading ads on all the main stream media and pushing blatant misinformation on California voters. Due to huge contributions from billion dollar companies Prop 37 now has the potential to be the most funded initiative in the history of the state.
The No on Prop 37 Coalition is using scare tactics and false information to convince voters that prop 37 will raise food prices and provide exemptions for special interests. They are lying! The Organic Consumers association has a great write up that clearly debunks the lies being spewed by the No on 37 campaign, you can view it here: http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_26457.cfm
Frey Vineyards has partnered with the Institute for Responsible Technology to sponsor a day of free online viewing of the film Genetic Roulette. This is an excellent film that showcases the lack of oversight provided by the FDA when approving GE foods and provides convincing evidence about why labeling is needed. Please watch it and encourage others to do the same! You can download the film here: http://www.responsibletechnology.org/.
The viewing will be available until October 31, 2012.
Proposition 37 is a common sense initiative that gives consumers access to information about the food they eat. Despite being approved for human consumption by the FDA, Genetically Engineered foods have never been subject to long term studies proving their safety. Proposition 37 is the first chance that America has had to choose whether or not to eat GE foods.
Here at Frey Vineyards, we are endorsing Prop 37 because we believe that billion dollar corporations should not be allowed bypass federal regulations and expose the public to unknown health risks. The FDA has failed us and introduced GE foods into the American food supply without proper safety testing. It is now up to us to demand labeling of the foods we eat!
For a full list of endorsers you can visit the Yes on 37 website.
It is time for America and California to join the 61 other countries that require GMO labeling! We have the opportunity to make this groundbreaking change for our Nation; lets make our voices heard on November 6th! Whether you live in California or elsewhere, please consider offering support by endorsing the campaign, donating funds to keep ads running or volunteering for a slot on the Right to Know Phone Bank, their goal is to call 1 million voters in the state before election day.
POSTED THURSDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2012 – By Molly Frey
What is a wine sensory garden? The following is the work of Shannon Jasie during her summer internship at Frey Vineyards.
"Tasting wine is a full-body experience. Wherever you taste wine, the colors and smells of the tasting area, as well as your mood and state of mind, influence how a wine tastes. Wine sensory gardens deepen the sensory experience by incorporating sight and touch. When tasting wine in a garden, the aroma is enjoyed by the nose, and the taste and texture by the mouth. Upon entering the space, you are surrounded by the color and scent of the garden and the plants whose flavors are used to describe the particular varietal. This enhances your tasting experience and compliments the flavor and aroma of the wine."
How to do a wine sensory garden tasting:
While you sip a glass of Frey wine, take a walk through the garden. As you meander through the herb
and flowerbeds, pick a sprig, leaf, or petal from the herbs and flowers whose aromas and flavors will compliment the wine. As you taste each herb, sip your wine and savor the new flavors that are exposed through the pairing.
Try our suggested pairings of Frey wine with garden herbs and edible flowers.
Anise, Thyme, Sage, Honey, Tarragon, Lavender, Squash, Blossoms, Lemon Verbena Violets.
Gewurztraminer: Rose Petals, Mint, Lavender, Rosemary, Lemon Verbena, Honey, Nasturtium, Rose, Geranium, Jasmine Blossoms, Cornflower.
Sauvignon Blanc: Lavender, Tarragon, Rosemary, Cilantro, Parsley, Sorrel, Lovage, Dill, Hay & Green Grass, Lemon Verbena.
Natural White: Tarragon, Marjoram, Thyme, Chevril.
Photo by Molly Frey
Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot: Sage, Rosemary, Oregano, Chocolate Mint, Chives, Nasturtium, Dill, Bee Balm, Pansy, Snapdragons Chrysanthemum.
Pinot Noir: Violets, Squash Blossoms, Fennel, Sweet Basil, Oregano, Chocolate Mint, Bee Balm, Pansy.
Petite Sirah: Chives, Rosemary, Oregano, Lavender, Sage.
Zinfandel & Syrah: Rose Petals, Lavender, Sage, Basil, Oregano, Nasturtium, Calendula, Marigold.
Natural Red: Basil, Thyme, Sage, Marigold, Calendula.
Sangiovese: Rose Petals, Anise, Basil, Fennel, Sage, Oregano, Pansy, Marjoram.
Photo by Molly Frey
POSTED THURSDAY, JUNE 14, 2011
Our southern California wine reps extraordinaires Sophie Boutoroff and Lee Boek did a Frey Wine tasting for art lovers at the home of pianist Natasha Marin and her husband Cheech Marin of Cheech and Chong fame. They sent along this photo:
Frey Wine rep Lee Boek with Cheech Marin
POSTED MONDAY, APRIL 16, 2012
We are pleased to announce the release of our first vintage ever of Tannat wine, from our West Road Vineyard. (Very limited production, available only at the winery or you may order online.)
First-time release of Frey Organic Tannat! Available online.
For those of you who love a rich, full-bodied tannic wine, you must try our Organic Tannat! It is rarely found in the U.S. today. We like it because of its intense fruity mouth-feel, sumptuous tannic structure and spicy finish. The 2010 production is limited to just 180 cases and Frey Wine Club members will enjoy a pre-release bottle with their April shipment. For more information about our Wine Club that offers specialty wines and year round discounts, please check here.
We planted one-acre of Tannat in 2007 and it’s been a thrill to work with this new grape. Tannat berries are thick-skinned and inky colored. It’s one of the most tannic grapes available, similar to a heavy Cabernet or Syrah. The color and depth of the resulting wine is impressive and the flavors are heightened with exposure to French Oak and some aging.
Tannat’s homeland is in the Basque region of southwest France in the appellation of Madiran near the Pyrenees Mountains, grown since the 17th century and highly prized. It is also the national grape of Uruguay and called Harriague by the Uruguayans, and the wine is softer and lighter than its French and American counterparts.
Tannat was first introduced to the US in the late 1800’s by the University of California at Berkeley and was primarily used as a blending grape for Meritage blends, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. It is now grown in California, Arizona, Virginia and Oregon and gaining increased notoriety as its own varietal.
We look forward to many delicious vintages of this unique wine to come.
POSTED SUNDAY, APRIL 15, 2012
In late January 2012, Katrina and Jon Frey attended Millésime Bio 2012, the world’s largest organic wine show at Montpellier, France. Jon Frey noted “It was an awesome showing of the whole spectrum of organic wines. Organic viticulture is growing rapidly in Europe.”
Millésime Bio organic wine convention hall in Montpellier, France
The show featured wines from Europe, Eastern Europe and beyond, with 470 wineries represented. Katrina Frey said, “As the only US winery there, and coming straight from our NOSB victory to maintain the definition of Organic Wine in the US as wine made with no added sulfites, it was gratifying to meet so many European Winemakers who are experimenting with making non sulfited wines.”
We look forward to continue our participation in this event, to share notes and collaborate with more European winemakers as their non-sulfited wine movement expands.
Check out this video from Millésime Bio 2012, including a short interview with Katrina Frey at the end.
POSTED WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2011
A big thanks to all of you who took the time to petition the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The board voted and they agree with you: sulfites have no place in organic wine!
With a 9-5 vote a few weeks ago, the NOSB rejected the petition that would have allowed sulfites, a synthetic preservative, into USDA certified organic wine for the first time. The petition would have allowed the addition of up to 100ppm added sulfite to organic wine despite the fact that organic processing laws expressly prohibit the use of synthetic preservatives. You helped to educate the policy makers about the quality and popularity of truly organic wines!
Non-sulfited winemakers banded together to advocate truth in labeling and to reject the watering down of organic standards. Representatives from several certified organic wineries gave public comment.
Thanks again to all who voiced their opinions. The large volume of public comments were crucial in keeping synthetics out of wine and other organic products.
Following is a press report issued after the vote:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 2, 2011
The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted to uphold organic wine standards. They rejected the petition requesting the use of the synthetic preservative sulfite in organic wine.
A coalition of organic winemakers and distributors including Frey Vineyards, La Rocca Vineyards, Stellar Organics, The Organic Wine Works, Ten Spoon Winery, Honey Run Winery, and Organic Vintages gathered to defend the integrity of the USDA seal, the gold standard for food purity.
“Organic wine has always been defined as preservative-free with no added sulfites,” says Phil La Rocca, founder of La Rocca Vineyards in Forest Ranch, CA.
Paul Frey, President of Frey Vineyards in Redwood Valley, CA states, “The preservative sulfite has never been allowed in any organic food that carries the USDA organic seal.”
John Schumacher of Organic Wine Works in Felton, CA remarks on the overwhelming consumer support expressed at the meeting and that "the decisive 9-5 NOSB vote was very gratifying."
During the months leading up to the NOSB meeting there was a huge outpouring of consumer support declaring the importance of truth in labeling and denouncing the addition of sulfites, a synthetic preservative, to organic wine. The Organic Consumers Association gathered over 10,000 signatures, and of the 484 comments posted on the USDA NOSB site, over 80% opposed the petition.
Schumacher sums up the victory by bringing it back to the health of the consumer: "Consumers can continue to choose award-winning USDA organic wines with no sulfites added.”
Steve Frenkel, owner of the New York distribution company Organic Vintages declares, "I am elated that we have prevented the proposed rule change which would have caused much confusion resulting in consumers being easily mislead and misinformed. Instead, I am very happy to report, this victory has insured the continuation of clear, honest, and forthright labeling of organic wine."
POSTED MONDAY, DECEMBER 12, 201
Barrie Lynn at the Cheese Impresario has some great tips to share with you on pairing your favorite Frey wine with fine specialty cheeses. She pairs Frey Organic Chardonnay with mouthwatering Gruyère, Frey Organic Sauvignon Blanc with some creamy goat cheese, and Frey Organic Cab with aged cheddar. Try one of the combinations at your next holiday party! The videos can be found here on YouTube.
POSTED MONDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2011 – By Eliza Frey
Harvest 2011 was an exciting one for North Coast grape growers here in Mendocino County, California. Two large rainstorms in early October got growers scrambling to harvest the fruit as quickly as possible. Our picking crew worked under gray skies during the day and at night under a Harvest Moon, successfully bringing in our entire crop in record time. The cellar crew worked overtime to process such large volumes. But then it cleared up and the vineyards dried out, allowing us to harvest less frantically during the final stretch. The pressing is finished now and the wines are put to bed for the winter as they complete malolactic fermentation. Mendocino County weathered the storms and we anticipate some great wines despite the challenging harvest. Look for the first of our 2011 white wines in early 2012!
Harvesting organic grapes, Mendocino County, California.
POSTED MONDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2011 – By Eliza Frey
We are thrilled to have completed the 2011 pressing of our Frey Ranch sunflower and grape seed oils, a part of our ongoing experimentation in local food production. After the red wine fermentation the grape seed was separated from the pomace, sun dried, then pressed. The grape seed oil is deep and complex with a distinct grapey flavor. The sunflowers grew quickly over the summer months and were easy to harvest with our mini-combine, which also harvests the grain crops from the vineyards. The fresh-pressed sunflower oil is new for us and a delicacy, with a rich, nutty aroma. Both are delicious oils for salads or drizzled over roasted veggies. Our seed-oil press is made in Germany and can accommodate a wide range of seeds, from grape to sesame. So far we have only experimented with grape seed and sunflower seed but we look forward to testing more oils in the future, as well as offering some of these oils, and the grains, to our customers. Stay tuned!
Grape seeds ready for pressing!
POSTED MONDAY, AUGUST 15, 2011
A good time was had by all at our recent Wine Club dinner, with around 50 guests who enjoyed sumptuous organic cuisine by Chef Tamara Frey and other collaborators of the culinary arts. Below are some photos of the event we'd like to share with you. We hope you can make it to our next dinner and celebration of organic food and wine (to be announced).
Dinner organizers extraordinaires, Nicole & Katrina.
Guests relaxing in front of the winery, under the oaks.
Guests take a tour of the wine sensory garden, a place to match wines with freshly picked herbs.
Tables set, menus laid out, salivating commences.
Young maidens serve the guests.
Freshly baked organic bread from the outdoor oven made by Matthew Frey.
A good time had by all.
POSTED THURSDAY, AUGUST 4, 2011
American icon Willie Nelson recently received the 2011 Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance Visionary Award in San Francisco. Sponsored by environmental nonprofits Amazon Watch and Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance, the event focused on how living local can have a positive effect on people around the world.
Frey Biodynamic Wines were proudly donated to this event.
Read more on the Huffington Post.
POSTED THURSDAY, JULY 28, 2011
Demand for organic food is ever growing, as confirmed by another poll. This is always good news as organic food production is better for everyone's health, and for the planet, in so many ways.
As summarized from ThePacker.com: "...A majority of Americans pick organically produced foods over conventionally produced when given the choice, according to a new poll... Among the reasons for choosing organic, survey participants cited supporting local growers and health concerns..."
Winemaker and vegetarian Paul Frey and his sons planting organic watermelons in vineyard.
POSTED TUESDAY, JULY 26, 2011 – By Derek Dahlen, Frey Wine Vineyard Manager
We just completed our second wheat harvest, all of it grown between rows of our organic vineyards. This cereal harvest is a part of our ongoing experimentation with growing local organic food with the wine grapes.
Ripe organic wheat ready for harvest between the vines.
This year brought some changes to the wheat program, as Frey Vineyards bought out the other members of the group that originally purchased the mini-combine, while they upgraded their own machine for wheat harvesting in Mendocino County. Check out their website at Mendocino Grain Project. Having our own combine now gives us more flexibility for timing the harvest and experimenting with different crops.
Matthew Frey running the combine in the Frey Potter Valley vineyard.
A repair on the combine allowed us to harvest the wheat more efficiently. It now reaps a much larger percentage of the crop and the grains are coming out cleaner. The grinding stone also got a facelift, as Matthew Frey installed a new motor with variable speed, allowing us to fine-tune the grinding process.
Derek and Matthew harvesting organic wheat from between rows of organic winegrapes.
The crop in our Redwood Valley vineyards weighed in at over one thousand pounds. At our Potter Valley vineyard, which has very fertile soils, we pulled in over 3,000 pounds! Time to get baking! We hope to offer samples of the flour to our wine club members. You can join here! We will also be serving bread from our homegrown wheat at our upcoming midsummer party, Saturday, August 6th. Come and taste the wonder of fresh ground grains!
POSTED SUNDAY, JULY 24, 2011
Young organic sunflowers at Frey Vineyards.
At Frey Vineyards this year we are experimenting with growing sunflowers to press for high quality organic oils. Sunflower oil is great for cooking and as a body oil. The plants also provide excellent food for our ranch bees as the flowers mature. Sunflower oil is the most important source of food oil in the world, and we are excited to start producing it here.
We chose the Russian cultivar Peredovik sunflower (Helianthus annus). While most sunflowers have an oil content of 25-35%, the peredovic can yield up to 50% oil from its small black seeds. The Peredovic sunflower also has a very short growing season of about 12 weeks which allows plenty of time to maturity despite our wet and soggy spring this year. We will harvest in the fall and press the seeds in our cold-press seed press. This year we expect about 25 gallons and hope to expand in the future.
The sunflower project fits nicely into our ever-expanding quest for more local sources of basic food products. We can harvest them with our small combine, which is also used for harvesting wheat that is interplanted in our vineyards. The spent press cake of the sunflower is a high quality feed for livestock and the stalks will make a great addition to our compost piles.
We will keep you posted about our progress!
POSTED WEDNESDAY, MAY 25, 2011 – By Eliza Frey
While at Millésime Bio in Montpellier this year, Eliza Frey and Derek Dahlen met Jason Cole, an American wine educator living in France. He teaches at SupAgro as part of their European Vine and Wine Masters Program: Vinifera Euromaster. SupAgro is an international center for higher education in agricultural sciences that teaches students from around the world. Jason took a bottle of our 2009 Organic Zinfandel to share with his class. Zinfandel is a fascinating wine for Europeans, as it is a New World grape that isn't grown outside the US. The students from all over the world were thankful and intrigued by an organic wine from California in their selection, as they expressed personally bellow. Thanks Jason for exposing your class to Frey Organic Zinfandel!
Below are thank-you notes from the class:
POSTED THURSDAY, MAY 5, 2011 – By Eliza Frey
Frey Organic Pinot Noir vineyard with clover cover crop.
Happy Spring from all of us at Frey Vineyards! It has been another wet and cold spring here in Mendocino County, Northern California. Bud break on the grapes was about 2 weeks late and we have already received well over our annual rainfall. In the vineyards, pruning is almost finished and our inter-planted grain crop is coming along nicely. In the cellar, we are racking and filtering our 2010 wines and just releasing the first whites (Organic Sauvignon Blanc) with Pinot Noir right around the corner. Please find below some news from the Vineyards and as always, a safe and healthy season to all!