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.
(Eighty-five year old Beba Frey of Frey Vineyards is an avid bird watcher. She recently wrote down some thoughts on her favorite pastime. The bird to the right is a Pileated Woodpecker, taken by Nathan Frey in woodlands adjacent the vineyards. In a future post we will talk about the many bird houses we have set up around the vineyards and the species of birds that use them to raise their hatchlings each year.)
I yelped. I was looking at the bird feeder outside my window. There, pecking bird seeds, was a strange (to me) large black saucy bird. For a fleeting moment I took it for a Brewer’s blackbird. But no, it had a graceful crest of black and fiery red eyes. It was early March. Then I remembered. Thirty years earlier in northern Mexico I had seen and identified the same black bird sitting proudly on a bush as the Phainopepla. It was my only sighting here in Redwood Valley. The name is as lovely as the bird. It is Greek for “shining robe,” undoubtedly referring to its sleek smooth body. Then two weeks later, for a scarce 4 minutes, two male Phainopeplas and 2 females (gray in color but with a similar crown) visited my feeder. They like mistletoe berries. I have never heard its “short soft whistle,” as described in the bird book. But I look for their return every day.
Mendocino County is the proverbial birder’s paradise. The temperate climate keeps many species here year round. Rivers, lakes, fields, woods, meadows abound with our fine feathered friends. And the mighty Pacific with its large swooping sea birds hugs the Mendocino coastline. The result is a plethora of bird species, here either all year long or passing through along the coastline or inland valleys on their way north or south. We love the loud honking of geese as they head north or south in their elongated V high in the sky. As our valley narrows on its way north it is home to the occasional pair of bald eagles which hunt unsuspecting smaller prey up and down the swiftly descending creek.
A pair of red-tailed hawks and their descendents have been in the same stretch of woods adjacent the vineyards for the last 40 years. We hear their particular series of cries, always starting on the same note and slurring downward. We wonder whether they nest in the same tree year after year or just in the same area. They consider this region home as surely as we do.
Helping the bees has become a way of life for us at Frey Vineyards. We love our bees, and do everything we can to give them the healthy habitat they need to thrive. Biodynamic beekeeping is a symbiotic relationship between the beekeeper and the bees, who both give and receive from the exchange.
During these recent weeks of sunshine, we took a peek into the hives to see how they weathered the winter so far. Some hives sadly did not make it. We're now working to further support the bees by creating a bee-border hedgerow that will provide delicious fodder for our hives between the gardens and the vineyards: just for them!
Because the bees need everyone's help these days, I encourage you to watch "Queen of the Sun," a documentary made by Taggart Siegel (who also produced "The Real Dirt About Farmer John"), and is showing across the country right now.
Harvest 2009 at Frey Organic Vineyards finally came to a close when the last gondola of organic Cabernet dumped into the crusher at 10PM, October 27th. During harvest, the cellar crew (affectionately known as "cellar rats") stayed up late each night making sure all the tasty grapes got crushed and pumped to the tanks for fermentation. 2009 is proving to be good year for organic winegrapes, with nice yields and delicious fruit – a welcome change for all of Mendocino County as last year many grape growers lost a significant percentage of grapes to severe frosts in the spring. This year's quality grapes are sure to produce some fantastic wines. Harvest might be wrapped up, but organic & biodynamic winemaking continues fast and furious until the end of the year. We should be releasing the first of the 2009 vintage white wines early next year.
#1 New York Times Bestseller Skinny Bitch recommends Frey Wine. This very popular book is a “no-nonsense guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous!” The book details the benefits of a vegan diet and exposes some of the dangerous hidden chemicals and cruelty in many of the foods we eat, including the dangers of sulfites and other synthetic preservatives added to wine. Give Skinny Bitch a read today!
Frey Vineyards is proud to sponsor the Vegan Vixens! This group of gorgeous gals describe themselves as “four talented ecotainers who care about the future of our world.” They educate the public about health and fitness, animal issues, planet stewardship, and climate change – and they make it fun and exciting. Check out their website at www.veganvixens.com and remember that all Frey Organic wines are 100% vegan friendly and Vegan Vixen approved!
The Vegan Vixens showing off their favorite vino!