A big thanks to all of you who submitted a recipe for our 30th Anniversary Recipe Contest. We appreciated your response. Several excellent recipes were submitted, each one delicious. It was tough to choose a winner.
After much cooking, tasting and deliberation, we chose "Italian Lentils,” submitted by Katie S. from Elizabeth, Colorado. I used Frey Organic Syrah in the recipe. It was a very hearty and tasty Autumn dish. Wonderful with a sour dough baguette and a glass of Frey Organic Syrah! Here is Katie's winning recipe:
7 cups of vegetable broth
2 Tbls of olive oil
1 ½ cups of lentils
1 cup of Organic Frey red wine (any variety works great)
8 cloves of minced garlic
4 cups of diced tomatoes in juice
1 tsp salt (or add salt to taste, especially since your vegetable broth might already have salt added)
1 ½ Tbls dried basil
1 ½ tsp lemon pepper
1 cup of pasta
Sliced green olives
Bring broth and oil to boil. Add lentils and red wine and simmer 40 minutes or until lentils are tender. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 8 minutes or until pasta is tender. Top with olives.
Serve with red Frey Organic Wine and a crusty baguette for dipping.
Last week Marie and I tucked our bees in for the winter. Our esteemed teacher from Sonoma County, Serge LaBasque, advises that these winter preparations be completed by Nov 5th. We removed empty boxes and reduced the number of frames in each box from 9 frames to 6 in addition to solid follower boards that form an inside wall about 3 inches from the outside wall. This results in improved circulation throughout the hive to combat the damp of our northern California winters.
Marie harvested 3 beautiful frames of honey from her strongest hive and donated two of them to my weak hive that is still rebuilding from their bear attack last spring. In spite of the rich diversity of bee fodder plants here on our Biodynamic® ranch, our other 4 Golden One Room hives had only enough honey for the bees to get through the winter. Other local beekeepers have also observed that it is not a big honey year. The rains of May and June slowed down the major honey flow.
As the days grow colder, the bees hunker down in a cluster in the heart of the hive and keep their queen and each other warm, only venturing outside if it’s a warm sunny day.
Honeybee sipping Frey organic Sauvignon Blanc grape juice during harvest season.
For the 2010 harvest we invested in new equipment to implement whole-cluster pressing for our white wines. Whole-cluster pressing is a gentler form of pressing white juice. Instead of being macerated in a crusher before entering the press, the grapes travel on a conveyor directly into the press. This technique limits the extraction of phenolics into white wines. It gives white wines smoother flavors, more fruit quality and better aging capacity. The result is a smoother, high quality white with more staying power, especially important for non-sulfited white wines. Look for the release of our delicious new 2010 whites next spring!
Frey Organic White Sauvignon Blanc grapes.
In August, our assistant winemaker Eliza Frey was interviewed on Good Dirt Radio. She talks about biodynamic grapegrowing and the benefits of eating organic. She appears about halfway through the show.
We are happy to announce the return of our Gewurztraminer, from Guntly Vineyards!
Gewurztraminer is most famously grown in Germany and the Alsace region of France, but its origin can be traced back to the varietal Traminer, from the village of Tramin in the German-speaking region of northern Italy. The relatively weak genetics of Traminer have led to several related varietals, including Frankisch, Gringet, Heida, Grumin and Formentin. Viognier, from the Rhone region of France, is also believed to be a distant relative of Gewurztraminer and shares the spicy, aromatic character.
The name Gewurztraminer (guh-voorts-tra-meaner) is derived from the German “Gewurz” which means spice or perfume, and the grape itself “Traminer” meaning “spiced Traminer.” Our organically-grown and made version continues the tradition of spice and we think you’ll enjoy the wine’s heady, aromatic character with notes of lychee, rose, passion fruit and floral aromas. The wine is dry, crisp and delicious, not syrupy and sweet. It’s perfect when chilled for a refreshing summer afternoon.
Guntly organic Gewurztraminer vineyard, source of the Frey organic varietal.
Organic Guntly Gewurztraminer vines, near Potter Valley, Mendocino County, California.
After 30 years of organic grape growing we are continually interested in diversifying our farm or bringing back lost traditions. A century ago, Mendocino County grew all of its grain, and we’re experimenting with bringing local grain production back! Much of the prime grain lands of the county have been converted to vineyards, but we are now demonstrating that grapes and grains can be grown together.
Organic wheat growing in Frey organic vineyard.
Frey Vineyards is collaborating with the Mendocino Grain Project and a handful of local vineyards and small farms to bring the tradition of grain growing back to Mendocino County. Together with the Grain Project we have purchased a small combine that can fit between vineyard rows to harvest grains and dry beans. In the fall of 2009 we inter-planted a variety of wheat, oats, barley and rye in every third row of selected organic vineyards. The combine ran through our vineyards in late July and we reaped several bushels of fresh grains. This year didn’t bring huge yields, but we identified the most productive sections of our vineyards and will fine-tune planting and cultivation practices to increase productivity in the years to come. This is an exciting project that is moving us closer to our goal of increasing local food production and rethinking what vineyards are capable of.
Doug Mosel of Mendocino Grain Project driving the mini-combine.
Wheat between the vines.
This is a simple and tasty mashed potatoes recipe and popular with my customers. It involves a slight variation of the French technique of flash-heating, where you throw some spinach and garlic into a hot pan, for example, for a quick flavor-enhancing searing. But in this case the raw spinach and chopped garlic are added to the piping-hot potatoes while mashing commences. The heat of the potatoes cooks the spinach perfectly, and leaves the garlic pungent.
If the sun is out, use a solar oven to boil the potatoes in a carbon neutral way (see pictures below). We use a Sun Oven, not cheap, but it will pay for itself by reducing your energy bills and keeping your cooking carbon-neutral.
Serves 4 to 6.
6 medium red potatoes. Do not peel. Most of the nutrients are in the vegetable peel. Go organic if possible, as pesticide residue lingers in soil where potatoes grow.
1 bunch fresh spinach, washed and chopped.
2 cloves chopped garlic. Add more or less, to taste.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (tasty vegan alternative: extra virgin olive oil)
¼ to ½ cup of whole milk, or half and half, or cream (vegan alternative: save some of the water used to boil the potatoes).
6 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Boil potatoes until soft. Drain the water and start mashing the potatoes until chunky. Mix in the butter or olive oil, chopped garlic, parsley, and chopped spinach. Add the milk or cream to your preferred consistency (if you are vegan, save some of the potato water and use it with the olive oil for the consistency you desire). Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika or cayenne.
Another delicious option is to add a little feta cheese, either to mash into the hot potatoes or to sprinkle on top when serving.
(Recipe copyrighted © Tamara Frey, 20101. All right reserved)
Organic potatoes cooking in solar oven, well above the boiling point!
Piping hot, solar cooked, carbon neutral, organic potatoes! Yum!
Stephen Cooper and Shaun Phillips from the San Diego Chargers were shooting The Learning Channel’s upcoming cooking show, "Kick Off Cook Off." And look what’s on their cooking station counter: Frey Organic Cabernet Sauvignon. Though we're loyal 49er fans here in Northern California, in this case we yell wholeheartedly, Go Chargers!
For 6 to 10 people
1 pound softened goat cheese
¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (optional)
dash of salt (optional, to taste)
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1 tablespoon fresh chopped garlic
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (or to taste)
½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
Press the softened goat cheese flat into a platter with a raised rim (see picture). Choose your prettiest platter for best presentation. The cheese should be flattened to about 1/2 inch thick. With your hands, shape the cheese so the rim rises up about a quarter inch. This will prevent the oils from spilling off the top of the cheese. Use a fork to poke holes into the cheese, (this allows the flavors of the olive oil, vinegar, and herbs to penetrate better into the cheese). Be careful not to poke the rim.
Drizzle half of the oils onto the cheese. Then sprinkle on the fresh chopped herbs, garlic, salt, pepper, vinegar, and sun-dried tomatoes.
Drizzle the rest of the oils over the mixture. Put the cheese in the refrigerator and let marinate overnight. This allows the oils and flavors to marry right into the cheese. But this dish can also be enjoyed immediately, with no marinating.
Serve with crostini, gourmet crackers, sliced cucumbers, or carrot sticks.
This appetizer was recently served at a wedding at Frey Vineyards to 450 people. We used 5 gallons of home-made goat cheese!
(Recipe copyrighted © Tamara Frey, 2010)
The goat cheese before the topping.
We are pleased to announce the release of our 2009 wines! 2009 was a fine year for grape growing and winemaking; good spring weather resulted in a nice fruit set and we had excellent ripening conditions throughout the summer and early fall. We collaborated with over 20 local organic family farmers to crush around 1400 tons of grapes, including those grown on our own farm.
Just released are the 2009 Organic Syrah, Organic Pinot Noir, Organic Chardonnay, and Organic Sauvignon Blanc.
We are also pleased to announce the return of Gewurztraminer, grown by local rancher Buck Guntly at Cold Creek Vineyards. The 2009 Gewurztraminer will be available in September.
The 2009 wines are smooth and fruity and ready to drink. We hope you will enjoy them as much as we do!
In contrast to the excellent 2009 grape growing season, 2008 was a challenging year for Mendocino County vintners. Late season frosts caused up to a 50% loss of fruit in several vineyards and the legendary Mendocino summer wildfires of '08 introduced winemakers to the challenge of smoke taint in some wines. We are happy to move forward with 2009, a balanced and delicious vintage!