Late last night, after all the ranch had gone to sleep, we heard a bellowing coming from the barn. The much anticipated births from our cows had come, and the mother, Gracie, was announcing her first calf. This morning we celebrated the calf's first day!
Frey Organic Wine wins the People’s Choice Award for Best Organic Red and White Wine at the 2009 All Things Organic Show!
Thank you to all who voted for our 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2007 Chardonnay.
Hosted by the Organic Trade Association, the 2009 All Things Organic Show took place in Chicago at McCormick Place on June 17th and 18th, 2009. Attendees participated in the largest Trade Show in the United States dedicated to organic products and the well being of the organic industry here and abroad. Speakers included Phil Lempart, the Supermarket Guru and Kathleen Merrigan, USDA Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. Thanks again to all of those who participated in the award and cast your vote!
Derek, Eliza, & Dale at the 2009 All Things Organic.
Over the course of history, all favorable grape varieties have been selected and cloned from wild vines.To reproduce a desirable grape, new plants are made from cuttings. All established grape varietals grown today were cloned from individual seedlings that people favored centuries ago.
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay share a parent grape, Gouais blanc, which is believed to have originated in Croatia. Seldom grown today, it is an important ancestor of many French and German grape varieties. Pinot Noir has been cultivated since at least Roman times and is believed to be only 1 or 2 generations removed from its wild ancestors in northeastern France or southwestern Germany.
Pinot Noir is one of the parent varieties of Chardonnay, which originated in the Burgundy region of France, from 700 to 1,700 years ago. Our 2008 Organic Chardonnay white wine is the perfect balance of fruity aromas and light French oak and pairs well with grilled fresh veggies, chicken and fish. It also tastes great mixed with a little sparkling water and ice cubes next to a plate of cheese and fruit – a favorite after-work snack for our office staff.
We source our top quality organic & biodynamic Chardonnay grapes from family-owned organic vineyards as well as from expert grape growers of the Ukiah and Redwood Valleys. The 2008 organic vintage combines the rich flavors of these two terriors. Our long established relationship with these growers, many whose families have been farming in our area for multiple generations, ensure excellent wines year after year.
Long prized in Europe by the upper classes for their superior quality, both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay arrived in California in the mid 1800’s. Traditionally grown in cool areas similar to Burgundy, both are now widely planted due to their popularity and adaptability to different growing regions. Today California boasts the largest acreage of both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the United States, with a variety of styles to mirror our diverse landscapes and microclimates.
We hope you enjoy our versions of these two amazing wines, crafted with care from 100% organic fruits, with no sulfites, preservatives or other additives.
Frey Organic Chardonnay Vineyard, Potter Valley, Mendocino County, California.
This elegant chicken dish is easy to prepare and never fails to impress. It’s a versatile recipe that tastes delicious with potatoes, rice or pasta. Serves 4-6.
Organic Chardonnay Chicken in Tarragon Mushroom Sauce
4 organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp olive oil
1 T butter
1 large shallot, minced
17 fresh tarragon leaves
Salt and pepper
¾ cup Frey Organic Chardonnay wine
½ cup heavy cream
1 tsp arrowroot
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
Rinse the chicken, pat dry, and season with salt and pepper. Add the oil to a large skillet and cook the chicken over medium-high heat until golden brown on both sides (about 15 minutes). Remove chicken and set aside.
Next, lower heat to medium and add 1 tablespoon butter, the minced shallots and tarragon. Sauté, stirring frequently for about a minute. Add the sliced mushrooms and increase the heat to medium high, stirring occasionally until they appear medium to dark brown in color.
Push the mushrooms around the edge of the skillet and return the chicken to the center of the pan. Pour the wine over the chicken, and adjust heat to simmer lightly for 5-7 minutes, depending on thickness of chicken.
Meanwhile, mix the cream, arrowroot and mustard. Turn the chicken, pour the cream mixture into the pan and simmer lightly for another 5-7 minutes. Serve immediately.
This may be the most refreshing way to drink red organic wine during these hot, summer months, a favorite from Spain and Portugal. It’s a real crowd-pleaser, too -- so feel free to double or triple this easy recipe, as needed. Just keep in mind that once made, you’ll want to chill from 2 to 6 hours before serving. One bottle serves about 5.
1 bottle Frey Organic Natural Red wine
2 organic oranges (one sliced, one juiced)
1 organic lemon
3 T organic sugar
¼ cup Triple Sec
Wash fruit thoroughly. For each batch, slice the lemon and 1 of the oranges and place in your pitcher or jar. The sangria pictured here was made in a large canning jar. Sprinkle with the sugar, and mash into the fruit with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved. Add the juice of the second orange along with the Triple Sec. Then add the wine and stir.
Place in the refrigerator to chill. The longer it sits, the smoother it will taste. When ready, serve over ice and enjoy!
They say “a swarm in May is worth a bale of hay,” and working on the farm, I know the value of both! Last February I attended the Honey Bee Symposium at Sommerfield Waldorf School, where renowned Biodynamic beekeeper Gunter Hauk discussed the loving being that is the honey bee, with a panel of Northern California apiculturists. I left the event with a keen desire to build my own hive as a sanctuary for the honey bee. On my quest for a hive design I came across work being done internationally with the “top bar” model, which utilizes the bottom half of a hexagon (the shape the bees draw in wax) as the principle structure. Because of these dimensions the bees are able to draw honeycombs in perfect, heart-shaped arcs, as they would naturally do if they were not impeded by man’s engineering. My husband Daniel and I created two such hives using wax to seal cracks. We added features of which we hope the bees will be able to regulate themselves, such as really small ventilation holes that can be filled with propolis as needed.
Katrina and Marie, on their respective Melissa quests, have found a Biodynamic hive popularized in Germany that has similar aspects to a top bar hive, but with some fancy features added. Called the “one-room-hive” (in German: “Einraumbeute”), it includes such additions as a waxed cloth that can be kept over the hive while one works with the bees, to minimize the disruption of opening the hive. Additionally, these new models offer observation windows to watch the queen cells as they develop. (Knowing the mature cell dates are important in Biodynamic beekeeping, which allows the hive to swarm, as Hauk describes, for the joie de vivre the bees experience). Beveled frame edges, a special insulation layer, and dove-tailed carpentry make these hives a special gift to the bees.
In late May, Katrina and I journeyed down to a local organic beekeeper’s apiary in Healdsburg and collected our bees in the twilight. We brought all of our unconventional hives with us and shook the bees in, all 40,000 of them per hive. With a total of 4 hives in the back of the car, it was over 100,000 bees buzzing as we made our late night sojourn home. Suited up in full regalia, just in case, we unloaded our sweet vessels on the Frey Ranch under the midnight moonlight.
The next morning, at the break of dawn, our bees found their new foraging grounds on the ranch. Daniel’s bees got a little disoriented and decided to swarm. Luckily, they opted to settle into a nearby apple tree in our orchard. We were able to catch them again and put them back into their hive, after which we made some improvements on the design. Katrina’s bees decided to swarm too, and it was quite the climbing expedition to recover them high up in another tree. Katrina and Marie caught another swarm, and this one decided to make its home in a wine barrel. Now, at the beginning of July, all the hives are blissfully buzzing away, gathering sweet nectars from the summer garden blooms.
Katrina grew up in Michigan, enjoying the blooms of her mother’s flower gardens. She spent summers working with her grandfather at his perennial flower nursery in Vermont, and came to appreciate her family’s floral heritage. When Katrina first came to California in the 1970s, her impetus for the adventure West was to learn organic gardening with the eccentric green thumb, Alan Chadwick. Her love of flowers blossomed there in the cultivating of perennial borders, as well as her love for her future husband, Jonathan Frey, who was also working in the nascent organics movement. Together they moved to the Frey Ranch in Redwood Valley, married, and began to grow their kinder garden of organic California children. In those formative days the winery was forged out of their mutual adoration of organics, and Katrina partnered with another Chadwick gardener, Charlotte Tonge, to give birth to a perennial flower nursery on the winery land in Redwood Valley. At the height of their propagation glory, the ladies had over 100 varieties of flowers producing, and they continued to bloom for 6 years. When the winery and its organic fruits needed more tending than there was staff, the flower women became the backbone of the Frey Vineyards office.
Today, Katrina plants colors on the canvas of her garden landscape, sticking to the tradition of her Eastern relatives, while incorporating organic gardening into the heart of her mission on the Frey Ranch. Additionally, she’s become one of the ranch’s Melissa, forming an intimate bond with the honey bee Bien (the being of the bee hive, including all the flowers that they take pollen from, the environment where they fly, and of course the bees themselves). You can see Katrina in her garden throughout the year, tending her hives and painting with the palette of possibilities as she plants out her garden. She recommends to aspiring perennial borderist the following suggestions:
When arranging your motif, consider the overall appearance of your border as it will look over the course of the seasons. Your aim is to create the illusion that there are always flowers in bloom. To do so, stagger plantings so that each area will have something to show at any given time. Consider placing the shorter blooms in the front of the border, and the taller behind. Besides probable heights, imagine the bloom itself, and mingle different textures together, i.e. plant side by side the umbel heads of valerian with a bush, showcasing the softness of rose petals. Planting in clumps gives a rich thickness that helps create the physicality of the border and intensifies the floral drama of a particular color or form.
In the last few years Katrina has added to her repertoire of flower wisdom, a love for the bees, and the plants that they seek out. For instance, since Katrina started to keep bees, she has included‘Gaillardia’ in her border, and looks out for flowers to especially please her wee friends. Interviewing Katrina in her late Spring garden is a delight, seeing her revel in the crescendo of culminating blossoms, cheering with the bees (native pollinators and honey bees alike) for the fertile florescence of a sunny day in May.
"Laughing, laughing, laughing, laughing,
comes the summer over the hills.
Over the hills comes the summer,
hahaha, laughing, over the hills."
The sun cometh as we enter the longest days of the year with the approach of the summer solstice. To celebrate the return of the glorious heat, our farmers and gardeners have readied their summer scenes with eggplants, tomatoes, basil, squash, corn. We got out our shovels, prepped beds, and planted our annuals – and had some perennial fun as well! In the weeks ahead, the Frey Farm and Garden Blog will chronicle the gardeners and what they're growing on the Frey ranch. Stay tuned for Frey folk interviews, delicious recipes, and beautiful shots of our spring and summer landscapes to help you get a feel for the Redwood Valley terroire, where the grapes for your organic wine and biodynamic wine are grown.
LIttle Osiris Frey learning to drive the wheelbarrow.
Here's an amazing Organic Strawberry Tart with an elegant twist.
Organic Strawberry Tart
(plan for 2-1/2 hours, which includes cooling time)
For Tart Shell - (to fill a 10-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom)
3/4 cup Organic Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/2 cup Organic Unbleached White Flour
3 tablespoons Organic Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
6 tablespoons Organic Unsalted Butter, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon Organic Whole Golden Flax Seeds
1 large Organic Egg Yolk
1/2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon Fresh Lemon Juice
3 tablespoons iced water
For Filling & Dessertage Glaze
1-1/2 lb strawberries (about 1-1/2 qt) trimmed and quartered
1/4 cup Organic Sugar
3/4 cup Frey Organic Dessertage Port Wine
2 cups Mascarpone (1 lb)
1/4 cup Organic Confectioner's Sugar
1 teaspoon Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 teaspoon Grated Lemon Zest
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
MAKE TART SHELL by blending flours, sugar, salt, and butter in a bowl with a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) until mixture looks like coarse meal. Don't overwork -- pieces of butter should be pea-sized. Beat together yolk, vanilla, lemon juice, and water, then drizzle over flour mixture and stir with a fork (or pulse) until mixture is blended together.
Gently knead with floured hands on a lightly-floured surface until a dough forms, then gently knead a few times. Press into a 5-inch disk. Place in the center of the tart pan, and using your fingers, spread and push dough to evenly cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Prick the bottom of the tart shell all over with a fork and place in the freezer while the oven is preheating (about 10 minutes).
Preheat oven to 350°F with the rack in the middle.
Line tart shell with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until side is set and edge is pale golden, about 15 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights and continue baking until your shell is deep golden color, about 15 minutes more. Allow tart to cool thoroughly, about 45 minutes.
PREPARE FILLING WHILE TART SHELL COOLS
Stir together prepared strawberries and sugar in a bowl and let stand about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain in a sieve set over a small saucepan, reserving berries. Add Dessertage to the liquid in the saucepan and boil until reduced to about 1/4 cup, which may take up to 30 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl to cool slightly.
In the meantime, blend the mascarpone, confectioner's sugar, lemon juice, zest, vanilla, and just a pinch of salt.
TO ASSEMBLE THE TART
Spread the mascarpone mixture evenly into the cooled tart shell, then top with the strawberries. Drizzle the Dessertage glaze all over the tart.
Makes 8 Servings
Honeybees gained national attention last month when Michelle Obama installed two hives in her organic White House garden. I’m excited about the stream of children and adults who will visit and become inspired to care for bees. About one-third of our human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination.
Spring is the time of year to establish new colonies because it’s the season when the bees are expanding their populations. Wintertime colonies typically number about 10,000 individual bees, but now in springtime the queen bee in each hive is busy laying as many as 2,000 new eggs a day. By early summer a healthy hive will house 40,000-60,000 residents!
When a new bee is born it crawls out of its nest built within a tiny hexagon of pristine wax. Male bees are drones, named for the low humming noises they make, and are large and hairy with huge eyes. They are free to travel and visit other bee colonies, perhaps as ambassadors and communicators. During the warm late spring and summer days thousands of drones congregate with other neighborhood males high up in the sky just above the treetops in “drone zones.” This congregation of males from different colonies ensures genetic diversity for the queens who will soon appear. The drones wait patiently until they meet and mate with a queen bee during her virgin flight. After mating in the air, the drones die, hopefully ecstatic up to that point, and plunge to earth. The queen mates with about a dozen drones and goes home filled with a lifetime supply of sperm. The queen bee is by far the longest-lived member of the hive, living up to three years, much longer than the six weeks to three-month life span of the other bees. By the end of August, the drones’ work is done and they will die at 3 months of age and the queen will lay no more drone eggs until the next spring.
Throughout the brief but wondrous life of a female worker honeybee, thirteen different glands fire up and then recede to assist in the current task of the bee. When a female bee emerges from her shining cell of wax she quickly goes to work cleaning out used cells and readying them for new brood. She does this with juice from a specialized salivary gland. Her next task is to feed the baby bees (brood) with royal jelly, nutritious “milk” produced from yet another gland near their mouth. The brood is also fed with “bee bread,” a mix of pollen and honey. A circle of female bees constantly attends the queen, feeding her with royal jelly and assisting her with the all-important work of egg laying. In other parts of the hive, bees are busy creating new comb from tiny drops of wax secreted from their wax glands. The comb will soon be filled with pollen and nectar that slowly evaporates and ages into exquisite honey. Next, the versatile worker bees become guards, and start to use their bee sting venom glands.
After about a month of housework, the female bees graduate and go outside into the sunlight for the first time. They emerge as part of a great cloud of comrades, turn around and face their hive, and staying within a few feet of their home, fly in lazy lemniscates (figure eights.) They are orienting by memorizing the outline of the horizon behind their home. Now they can begin their foraging career. During one sunny warm day a bee will visit hundreds of individual flowers, gathering nectar and pollen to bring back to the hive and at the same time performing the invaluable work of pollination, spreading pollen dust from flower to flower. After a few weeks of foraging, a honeybee will finally fly her delicate wings to tatters and will die at about 6 weeks of age.
On a 45-minute foraging flight, a bee visits 200-300 flowers of the same plant species. Honeybees are known to be “faithful to flowers”, because they will continue to visit only the same kinds of flowers as long as they are blooming. This consistency is what makes honeybees such desirable pollinators compared to other native bees and insects that tend to flit from species to species. Honeybees fill their crops (honey pouches) with nectar equaling half of their body weight. Honeybees from a typical hive visit around 225,000 flowers per day. The bees make an average of 1,600 round trips and will travel up to three miles from the hive in order to produce one ounce of honey. To make one pound of honey, honeybees must visit some 2 million flowers and fly about 55,000 miles.
The next time you spread a delicious nutritious spoonful of honey on your toast, take a minute to marvel upon the complexity within each drop of honey.
“Honey is something so valuable that it is impossible to put a price on it.”