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.
Try out this easy and delicious recipe for a refreshing summertime treat. We made two versions of the recipe: Cabernet Sauvignon with rosemary and Sauvignon Blanc with Tarragon. But there are countless variations and you can eliminate the alcohol or adapt your sorbet to your creative whims. A quick internet search yields dozens of ideas, from champagne grapefruit to red wine with clove, and even hot toddy! Whatever your preference, the basic recipe below will get you started and you can elaborate and embellish from there. The recipe is good for 4-6 hearty servings. Have fun and enjoy!
1 cup spring water or filtered water
3/4 cup organic sugar, or honey, or white grape juice
(Note on sweeteners: We found that heavier red wines absorb the flavor of sugar and the sweetness is more intense for white wines. So for white wines we recommend using a little less sweetener.)
1 1/2 cup wine
1/2 cup lemon juice
herbs and spices to taste (lemon zest is great for white wines)
We suggest either Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc with lemon mint, basil, tarragon, and Zinfandel or Merlot with cinnamon, ginger or cloves. Be bold and experiment!
1) Boil water
2) Stir in sugar, honey or juice until dissolved completely
3) Cover and cool
4) Stir in wine, lemon juice and spices
5) Taste your mixture and make any adjustments. This is your last chance to adjust the sweetness, tartness or spiciness!
6) Prepare in an ice cream maker or see the freezer instructions below.
If you don’t have an ice cream maker you can still make wonderful sorbet. The traditional trick is to interrupt the freezing process as many times as possible so you don’t end up with a block of flavored ice. However, if pinched for time, you can freeze it all at once, then remove it from the freezer and stir it as it softens. When it reaches the desired consistency, you can re-freeze it and serve it later.
1) Pour liquid sorbet mixture into a large baking dish. The depth of the liquid should be about 1/2 inch.
2) Place the dish in the freezer, making sure not to spill.
3) Every 20-40 minutes remove the dish from the freezer and stir with a flat wooden spoon or a plastic spatula, or freeze all at once and stir as it softens, as mentioned above.
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!
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!
The glory of the summer sun shines down this time of year, illuminating the full palette of colors and flavors in the Frey Vineyards gardens. Out past one vineyard, beyond a blackberry hedgerow, Jonathan Frei works with the soil. His experiments began long ago in his childhood garden where kitchen herbs grew around his New Hampshire homestead.
Jonathan Frei in his garden.
After graduating with a B.S. in soil science from the University of Vermont, Jonathan transplanted himself in the West coast where he’s become an acclaimed master gardener, turning the earth into black gold wherever he tills. He adds that he is a “proud father to three amazing children,” two of which were in the garden when we arrived.
When entering Jonathan Frei’s garden one can see his gardening roots where culinary herbs surround his cabin in the woods. Paths lead out from his home between rows of colorful drought-tolerant bushes, many of which were in full-flower when I interviewed him. I brought my four year old son, Osiris, along to visit, and he found bliss in the several patches of Jerusalem sage, sucking sweet nectar from the abundant yellow flowers.
Little Osiris enjoying Jerusalem sage nectar.
Jonathan and I walked to his experimental garden project, where he is cultivating 20 different types of blueberries amidst native perennial trees, shrubs, and poor soils. We grazed on some of the most successful bushes that have provided a taste of fresh fruit for several years now.
Jonathan Frei's organic blueberries.
Aside from his blueberry adventures in homage to his Northeastern heritage, Jonathan has a history of making gardens come to life along the West coast. He worked at what is now the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, to lead a team of gardeners there years ago. Later, in Mexico, he started the internationally acclaimed organic garden of Rancho La Puerta in Baja, California. These days, when Jonathan isn’t working at the winery to help produce and promote Frey wines, he’s working with the land, perfecting the art of kitchen garden design, and pairing aromatics with vibrant flowers – all to create a whimsical and functional landscape.