One of the herb gardens at Frey Vineyars.
As the weather warms with spring, we find ourselves wanting to reconnect with the sun, plants and the soil. What better way than to get outside and garden? For those of you who love wine and gardening, consider planting a wine sensory garden with fruits, veggies and herbs that compliment your favorite wines.
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, the taste and texture by the mouth. But you also engage your eyes and experience the sight and colors of surrounding plants, as well as other senses to enjoy the smell, taste, and touch of the garden.
Wine sensory gardens are usually segregated into white and red sections, with sitting areas in each for tasting and dining. The gardens are arranged into blocks, each corresponding to a given varietal, such as Chardonnay or Zinfandel. Upon entering the space, you are surrounded by the color and scent of the garden, as well as 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. For instance, the Chardonnay garden would have white, yellow, and light green foliage, maybe a pear and apple tree; perhaps a beehive, and also herbs that pair well with Chardonnay, such as tarragon and lemon thyme. A Zinfandel garden could have raspberries and blackberries, as well as red-leafed plants, perhaps some sweet peppers and coriander. Cabernet gardens can have bell pepper, rosemary and chocolate mint.
Below is a list of common wine varietals, and some of the plants whose flavors are commonly used to describe their flavors.
White Wine Garden Plants
Melon, corn, sweet pepper, fennel, artichoke, lemon, grapefruit, peach, pear, apple
Chardonnay – Apple, pear, lemon, lavender, honey (beehive), gardenia.
Sauvignon Blanc – Citrus, dill, lovage, mint, cilantro, ginger, honeysuckle
Red Wine Garden Plants
Squash, tomatoes, parsley, beets, eggplant, potato, pomegranate, raspberry, blackberry, mushrooms, oak
Pinot Noir – Plum, sweet basil, oregano, mint, violets, strawberries
Sangiovese – Garlic, sage, basil, currant,
Syrah – Prune plum, sage, basil
Petite Sirah – Chives, rosemary, oregano, red pepper
Cabernet Sauvignon – Bell pepper, rosemary, chives, mustard, oak, cedar
Merlot- Bell pepper, nasturtium, patchouli
Zinfandel – Raspberry, blackberry, oregano
Once you have created a beautiful sipping space, it is time to start enjoying it! A sitting area allows you and your guests to relax and take a break from today’s busy world and enjoy the sights and scents of your garden. Perhaps share a meal cooked with fresh produce and herbs from your garden. (See previous blog below!)
This classic butter spread is easy to prepare and a favorite of my customers. Serve it on warm baguettes or fresh sour dough French bread. In fact, it’s delicious on many dishes. Spread it on baked potatoes or mashed potatoes, add it to fettuccini, brown rice, couscous, or quinoa. Also, a fresh tomato garnish goes great with many of the above pairings, though I did not include it in the recipe below. Pair it with your favorite Frey Organic Wine. I especially like it with Frey Organic Sangiovese.
1 pound of unsalted organic butter (the butter should be soft but not melted)
6 finely chopped cloves of garlic
1 heaping tablespoon of finely chopped rosemary
1 heaping tablespoon of chopped parsley (you can also use basil)
¼ cup of extra virgin organic olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
In a food processor put the butter, garlic, rosemary, and parsley. Blend all the ingredients while adding the olive oil until the mixture is smooth. Put the mixture in a bowl and garnish with rosemary and parsley leaves.
(recipe copyrighted © Tamara Frey, 2010)
The ingredients ready to go.
The first bit of olive oil into the Cuisine Art.
The ingredients thoroughly blended.
Organic Rosemary & Garlic Butter – ready to enjoy!
(Recipe copyrighted © Tamara Frey, 20101. All right reserved)
When pairing food and wine the goal is to create a complement of flavors that enhances the taste of each. Today, many chefs are taking it further by pairing wine to the specific herbs they use in dishes. French chefs have used herb-infused wine sauces for centuries, creating flavorful classic bistro dishes like mussels steamed in wine and herbs.
Spring is one of the best times of year to harvest and eat fresh herbs, when they are putting out their tender, potent new shoots that burst with flavor. A foolproof sauce for any combination of wine and herbs is to melt butter (for vegans use a butter substitute like Earth Balance spread or olive oil) in a saucepan and add herbs and wine and salt to taste, cooking it down until it thickens slightly. Serve over meat or vegetables.
We recommend the following herb and wine combinations and encourage you to experiment with new ones!
Chardonnay – tarragon, lemon, lemon thyme, basil, lavender
Frey Natural White – tarragon, marjoram, thyme, chervil
Sauvignon Blanc – dill, lovage, mint, cilantro, ginger, lemongrass
Pinot Noir – sweet basil, oregano, mint
Frey Natural Red – basil, thyme and sage
Sangiovese – garlic, sage, basil, rosemary, oregano
Syrah – sage, basil, rosemary, chocolate mint
Petite Sirah – chives, rosemary, oregano, black pepper
Cabernet Sauvignon – rosemary, chives, black pepper, mustard, chocolate mint
Merlot – basil, oregano, white pepper
Zinfandel – chipotle peppers, cumin, coriander
Early in April, a dramatic example of the biodiversity of Frey Vineyards played out in my front yard. A bear paid a nocturnal visit to the beehives that are 20 yards from my house. Three of my four hives were knocked off their stands, opened up, and scattered in all directions. Everything you learned about bears and honey from Winnie the Pooh is true. But this bear not only devoured all the honey, he or she feasted on the unhatched bee brood, as well.
I was shocked at the devastation and also puzzled that it happened now, after 4 years of successful beekeeping in this location. Then I realized that my 16-year-old border collie, Chester, who died in December and neighbor Tamara Frey’s old dog, Madrona, who died last month had not only been good dogs, but were also apparently maintaining a bear-free zone around our houses. Googling the California black bear, I learned that bears are diurnal, but will adjust their schedules to the challenges of their surroundings: in this case, foraging at night to avoid the humans. (Note on the California State Flag above: it depicts a grizzly bear, which no longer roams the state. But its smaller cousin, the black bear, still thrives.)
Back at the scene of the crime, my son Johnny and I scooped up pathetic clusters of stranded bees and patched the hives together. A few days later, our new intern, Keith Gelber, who has had the privilege to work with the famous Biodynamic beekeeper, Gunther Hauk, showed me how to cut out sections of comb with newly laid eggs and unhatched brood from an undisturbed hive. We rubber-banded them onto frames and placed them in the bear-attacked hive. We also combined two colonies into one. Now, a few weeks later, one of the colonies is alive and well. The clever bees transformed a newly laid egg into a queen. If all goes as nature intends, she will soon hatch and fly off for her virgin mating flight. She’ll return well fertilized from the neighborhood drones and begin her egg-laying career -- laying an astonishing 1500 eggs per day.
The other hive gave up the ghost. Their population was probably too decimated to carry out all the tasks necessary for colony survival. I guess it’s time to get another dog.
We're proud to report that healthy-living advocate Diana Stobo recommends Frey Organic Wines in her new book,Get Naked Fast. Check out her website!
After a long pregnant winter our farm is showing the first signs of spring. Among our new farm friends are six baby goats (kids), a flock of lambs, and three growing calves. All of our animals are happily grazing in the vineyards, eating fresh green, biodynamic spring grasses. Cows, goats, sheep, chickens, and horses are all delighted to go to pasture on the spring bounty before the grape buds break open. The draft horses have been in training to work the land for the hay season to come, and the chickens we raised from our own eggs are now beginning to enter their first laying season. Additionally, on the homestead, we've added some angora rabbits and piglets to our family.
If you would like to visit our farm, we are hosting a farm day once a month, (geared to the interests of young children, especially). This month we'll be making our rounds on the property, visiting all the animals on March 13th. We will meet at the Winery at 2pm, and explore the ranch life, rain or shine. Come join us!
In the garden, we're so pleased that Redwood Valley is getting such an abundance of rain this year. The gardens are lush with fava bean cover crops, and we've sown our first spring crop seeds in the greenhouse in flats (brassicas and greens mostly). On sunny days the bees come out to sip sweet nectars from the flowering manzanitas, and from the dandelions that have just begun their season here. We're off to a fine start of the year, and are looking forward to the grape season to come!
Frey Winery was invited to give a one hour presentation at Millésime Bio 2010 in Montpellier, France last January. I gave a talk on "The History of No Sulfite Added Organic Wine." There is much interest now in Europe on organic non-sulfited wines as three years ago a "Contains Sulfites" warning was required on all EU wine labels that contain above 10ppm total sulfites.
At the lectern! Millésime Bio 2010, the worlds largest organic wine fair, at Montpellier, France.
I got to meet many wine distributors and winemakers at Millésime Bio 2010.
At a lunch meeting with with top wine scientists from Vivelys, a wine research company in France, discussing the latest theories in wine chemistry and no-sulfite winemaking history.
Here I am with famous wine historian Michel Bouvier in Lyon, France. We discussed the history of no-sulfites-added winemaking. His book on the history of ancient wine won an award in 2007.
Visiting the famous Lapierre winery in Morgon, France. One of the first in France to make wine without sulfites added. I am here with Mathieu Lapierre in his snow-covered vineyards.
Visiting the famous Trapet winery. Jean Louis Trapet and I exchange bottles of organic wine. We discussed wine making methods of his Grandfather and tasted some of his no-sulfites-added wines.
I visited Logrono in Rioja region of Spain and stopped at a research center that made some wines as part of the Orwine Project. The project was created to define organic wine in Europe. Here I am with Pedro tasting some of their wine.
After a one month tour of Europe visiting organic distributors, winemakers and scientists, I attended Biofach 2010, the worlds largest organic food and wine show. Frey Winery presented a talk on "The History of No Sulfite Added Wine in the USA" at Biofach, and poured organic wine to the visitors. Frey wine is now available in some European countries.
Check out this interview with Katrina & Jonathan Frey of Frey Organic Wines, produced by the great people at GIAIM – Healthy Green Living. The interview was recorded a few years ago.
A few photos we'd like to share with you from our first-annual "In Love with Redwood Valley" Wine & Chocolate Pairing, in conjunction with other wineries of the valley. There was a large turnout of chocolate nibblers and wine sippers. We hope you can join us next year! By the way, here's an interesting article on the health benefits of wine and chocolate in moderation. There are also studies out there showing that organic foods have higher levels of anti-cancer substances than non-organic foods, which we'd like to write about in a future post.
Peter and Derek pour wine and answer questions at this year's wine and chocolate pairing.
An array of gourmet organic chocolates, dark and white, to sample with the wine.
Guests relax outside the winery on a fine February afternoon. We hope to see you next year!
Attention future brides and grooms! As we seek to bring eco-consciousness into all aspects of our lives, your wedding celebrations can take on a whole new dimension. Frey Organic Wines was recently featured in the new book Green Wedding: Planning Your Eco-Friendly Celebration. The book, written by New York Times style correspondent Mireya Navarro, lists our certified Organic Wines as a perfect fit for eco friendly nuptials!
It is a beautiful book full of nice photos, inspirational examples and practical solutions to common challenges in wedding planning. Also included are ideas for locations, alternative gifting options, tree-free invitations, local decorations, seasonal cuisine, socially responsible honeymooning and green lifestyle choices for the new couple.
The book is available at mireyanavarro.com. The book cover is shown below.