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.
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
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:
In January 2011, Eliza Frey, Derek Dahlen and Alex Frei represented Frey Vineyards at Millésime Bio, Europe’s premier organic wine conference, held each year in Montpellier, France. Frey was awarded a bronze medal for our 2009 Pinot Noir – quite an honor for a no-sulfites-added organic wine at a French wine competition!
The conference featured over 500 producers of wines made from organically grown grapes and an ever-increasing number of producers making wines with no added sulfites. It is great to know that the additive-free wine culture in Europe is alive and well. Along with our friends Phil and Judy LaRocca of LaRocca Vineyards in Forest Ranch, California, we represented organic, non-sulfited winemaking in the USA and stressed the need for purity and the exclusion of additives as the European Union struggles to develop their organic wine standards.
Attendees at the Millésime Bio 2011, Montpellier, France.
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!
Katrina Frey was invited to address the Washington Spa Alliance’s 2011 Symposium, which took place in Washington DC on March 24. She joined a series of leaders in the fields of integrative medicine, cuisine and healthy lifestyles. Her talk covered organic wine and food issues, GMO’s and Biodynamic farming. Questions from the attendees focused on purity and the need to have additive-free products for truly holistic spas. The mission of the Washington Spa alliance is to act as a knowledge center and to connect spa professionals. Katrina encouraged them to integrate certified organic wine and food products into their dining rooms.
If you're in the Bay Area on Saturday, June 4th, don't miss the benefit for and preview of Kiss the Cook & the Farmer Too, a 13-part public television series about great food and sustainable agriculture, taking place at Hillside Gardens, Mill Valley, California. Frey Vineyards is a proud supporter of Kiss The Cook and The Farmer Too, and our wine will be served at the event. We hope you'll be there!
This is one of my favorite pasta dishes, easy to make and delicious
Earth Pasta, by Chef Tamara Frey
I’ve always loved the flavorful combination of dessert wines and cream boiled down to a sauce. In culinary school most of these rich and fabulous sauces they teach are from concentrated meat stock bases. I wanted to develop a sauce that was vegetarian and easy to make, but still used the classic French technique of reduction. I came up with Earth Pasta when I developed the first menu for the newly opened Daily Planet Restaurant in the early 1980s.
I remember my father loved cooking with mushrooms and onions sautéed in olive oil with a dash of salt and pepper. He enjoyed it over steak, but the combo works for many dishes, and I included them in this Earth Pasta.
INGREDIENTS (May I suggest you use organic ingredients if you can, to help out our planet, and small farmers)
20 snow peas, leave them whole
4 cups sliced mushrooms (packed in)
2 cups sliced onions
1 cup Frey Dessertage Port (or Madeira sweet wine)
2 cups heavy cream, enough to make a nice sauce for the veggies at the end
linguini for 4 people, cook al dente. Add a dash of salt and a splash of olive oil to the water while pasta boils
Sauté snow peas, mushrooms, and onions with your favorite cooking oil (I recommend unsalted butter, extra-virgin olive oil, or extra-virgin coconut oil). When they’re done, turn up the heat and pour in the Dessertage Port (or Madiera, which was used in the original recipe and it would flambé over a gas stove; Frey Dessertage Port did not flambé for me when I used it for this recipe, but it still tastes great in this dish). Reduce the spirits so the alcohol burns off and the essence remains, then add the heavy cream and bring to a boil and simmer, until thickened to desired consistency for pasta. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh finely grated Romano parmesan or Asiago cheese, fresh-chopped parsley, scallions, and fresh cherry tomato-halves if in season.
This dish goes great with Frey Organic Pinot Noir, one of our lighter red wines.
Instead of cream, use coconut creamer or soy creamer. I tried it with coconut creamer and it tasted great, but I have yet to try it using soy creamer, which may curdle. You may also try it using a thick miso broth as a cream alternative.
Instead of the cheese garnish, try a vegan parmesan made by Eat in the Raw.
(Chef Tamara Frey is working on a cook book about cooking for large groups. We'll announce it here when it's released!)
(Recipe copyrighted © Tamara Frey, 20111. All right reserved)
San Francisco-based Organic Conversation Radio show with Helge Hellberg and Mark Mulcahy recently interviewed Katrina Frey and others as part of their "Celebrating Women Leadership" Earth Day special.
Katrina was interviewed first, where she talks about the fight to keep added sulfites out of organic wine.
You can hear the complete show and all the interviews at Organic Conversation's website.
Katrina Frey with Kirstie Alley and Karen Black!
Katrina Frey with actor Ed Begley Jr.
Jon and Katrina Frey danced with the stars at Kirstie Alley’s Celebrity Block Party in Los Angeles on March 9th, 2011. The party was attended by Hollywood bigwigs who loved tasting Frey wines, the nation’s premium award-winning organic wine. Kirstie has developed Organic Liaison Rescue Me, the first USDA certified organic weight loss product. Thanks, Kirstie, for choosing organic products and promoting the green lifestyle!