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Frey Organic Wine Blog

Tamara Frey
 
May 9, 2013 | Tamara Frey

Blood Orange Sole Salad with Dessertage Vinaigrette

This is a wonderful salad topped with a fillet of sole and drizzled with a vinaigrette made with Frey Dessertage Port, a flavorful organic sweet wine.  The sole is best if fresh, when it smells like scallops.

Carolyn Dismuke will be showcasing the creative ways of cooking with Dessertage Port atDrinkThoseWords.com in the coming months. Be sure to check it out!

Blood Orange Sole Salad
Pouring on the Dessertage Vinaigrette to the Sole Salad.

Serves 4
Ingredients:
1 lb. sole fish (vegan alternative: portobello mushroom, 4 large caps)
salt
pepper, coarsely ground
1 cup & 6 tablespoons Frey Dessertage Port organic sweet wine
2/3 cup & 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large head red butter lettuce
½ cup raw pecans
1/2 red onion
1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger root
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 blood orange
1 avocado
2 teaspoons coconut oil

Marinating the filet
Marinating the sole fillets with Dessertage Port.

1.  Let’s get the sole marinating in the Dessertage Port by first laying out the fillets in a dish. (Vegan alternative: use 4 large caps of portobello mushrooms and prepare the same way).  With a sharp knife slice into the fillets about halfway through, each slice half inch apart.  This will allow the marinade to seep in better.  Sprinkle a large pinch of salt, pinch of pepper.  Then drizzle over the fillets 4 tablespoons Frey Dessertage Port, followed by drizzling 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.  Let them marinade while preparing the rest of the salad.  Return every few minutes to spoon the marinade back over them again.

2.  Now to the head of red butter lettuce.  I like to take a knife and cut out the core from the bottom so the leaves peel off easily.  Rinse and dry in a salad spinner.  Then tear into smaller pieces.  I prefer red butter lettuce leaves about 3 inches long, somewhat big.  Set aside.

3.  Time to toast the raw pecans: chop them up and put them in a dry pan on low heat.  Don’t forget about them because they will burn quickly.  It’s best to stay with them until done, stirring frequently on low heat.  You know they’re ready after a few minutes when they release that distinct toasty aroma, and they darken a little.

Toasting pecans
Flambéing the toasted oats!

Now, with 2 tablespoons of Dessertage Port at the ready, crank the heat up to high and quickly pour it in to flambé the toasted pecans.  If you have a gas stove, tip the pan so the Port catches the flame and lights up, or use a match.  After the flames die out, turn the heat back to low and simmer off the Port.  The pecans will burn if left on high, so please do turn the heat down!  Stir until the pecans are dry and coated with a sweet layer of caramelized Dessertage.  It will take a few minutes.  Then spread the pecans out on a plate and set aside to cool.

(Remember to take time out now and then to spoon the marinade over the fillets again!)

4.  Now let’s make the Dessertage Port Vinaigrette:  in a pot pour in 1 cup of Dessertage Port, 2 tablespoons minced red onion, and 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger.  We’re going to make the reduction for the base of our Dessertage Vinaigrette by bringing this to a boil and reducing it until there’s about ¼ cup left and it’s syrupy.  It will take a few minutes.

Remove the reduction from heat, let it cool down a little, pour into a bowl with a whisk at the ready, then add 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar and a pinch or two of salt.  While whisking continuously, very slowly pour in 2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil, just a thin stream.  When the pouring is finished, it should be thick and creamy and take on a gorgeous crimson hue, like a Hawaiian sunset.  You may also do it in a snap using a Cuisinart.  But like the furniture maker who eschews electric tools for the sake of a forgotten art, I often prefer to do these steps by hand.  I practice my old techniques, and it’s good exercise!  Each time I grab a whisk I recall a chef instructor at the California Culinary Academy years ago who would yell out, “Whisk it!  Whisk it good! Whisk it ‘til your arms fall off!”

Making vinaigrette
Very slowly pour in the vinaigrette while whisking.

5.  Before cooking the fillets, let’s get the rest of the salad ingredients ready by cutting four thin slices of red onion, 4 thin slices of blood orange, and slice up completely the avocado.  I like to serve the fillets piping hot over the salad, so let’s now get the beds of lettuce ready, spread out over the four separate plates.

6.  It’s time to cook the marinated sole fillets  Put 2 teaspoons of coconut oil in a pan on medium heat to get it nicely coated.  Put in the fillets  They will cook quickly, about 2 minutes.  

Place the fillets on each of the four beds of lettuce. (For the portobello vegan alternative, slice up the cooked mushrooms before laying them on the bed of lettuce.)  Quickly arrange the rest of the salad ingredients to the delight of your artistic whims: the rings of raw onion, the slices of blood orange and avocado.  Drizzle on the Dessertage Vinaigrette.  And finally, sprinkle on the toasted pecans.

Watch out for the bones.  Bon appétit!

(Recipe & images copyrighted © Tamara Frey, 2013. All right reserved.)

Frey Vineyards
 
Frey Vineyards
 
April 17, 2013 | Frey Vineyards

Experimenting with Biodynamic® Dyes

In January of this year, Craig Wilkinson, founder of Quantum Culture, a venture creating and trading biodynamically produced and processed goods, visited us here at the winery during the annual Biodynamic Association of Northern California (BDANC) meeting. Craig had been looking forward to conducting an experiment with Biodynamic® dyes for some time, so the weekend BDANC conference at Frey Vineyards was the ideal testing ground. Craig prepared biodynamically grown cotton tee shirts and bandannas in a mordant of alum, and formulated three dye baths: one made from grape lees, another from a filtered grape juice, and one from actual finished wine. Of his experiments, Craig provides the following notes:

- The first dye bath was made from a slightly diluted soupy batch of grape lees, which are the sediment left following the grape crush. The mix was heated for several hours and again the following day. The colors it produced were the lightest of the three baths.
- The second dye bath was made from ‘waste wine,’ which is grape juice collected from the pre- and post-pumping process. The colors were very nice with darker results.
- The third bath was made from nearly a case of 2005 Frey Biodynamic® Syrah made from biodynamically grown grapes. The color was beautiful, and the darkest of the three. The color set very quickly for both the juice and wine, and required no filtering, which made it easier and efficient to work with. Luke Frey and I enjoyed a glass of the Syrah while opening and pouring bottles of wine into the dye vat.

We’re excited about the range of colors, the colorfastness, and the potential for a volume dye bath made from biodynamic winemaking byproducts, and we’re appreciative of Craig’s dedication to the project. Please visit quantumculture.com to view the scope of the research project and find more products made from biodynamically grown cotton.

Lovely organic ladies
Ann Krohn & Eliza Frey in tee’s dyed with grape juice and the 2005 Frey Biodynamic® Syrah pictured here.

Katrina Frey
 
April 17, 2013 | Katrina Frey

Report from the VIneyard, Spring 2013

It's April and things are jumping in our Biodynamic vineyards! We've just completed pruning, and now are tying the newly pruned canes onto the trellis.

Organic vineyard mower.
Alex Babbitt returning for his third year with us, here among the crops of fava beans, field peas and clovers that have fixed atmospheric nitrogen into the soil, and now are being mowed.

The April days are warm, but frost still threatens some nights. Our valiant frost team of Adam, Derek, Tommy and Jonathan are alerted by remote thermometers when the temperature dips to 36 degrees. Then they arise from warm beds and head to the fields to be poised to turn on sprinklers just before temperatures reach the freezing point. The moving water protects the tender grape buds and stays on until the sun rises. It's common to have frosts in April, and not unheard of to have a frost or two in May.

Preparation is also underway to plant 12 more acres of vines. We're very excited to be introducing six new varietals into our vineyards. Two acres each of Malbec, Grenache, Moscato, Barbera, Tempranillo (Spain's noble grape) and Vermentino, also known as Rolle, are all varietals that should thrive in our climate. If all goes well, we'll begin making unique organic wines from them in 2016!

Katrina Frey
 
April 16, 2013 | Katrina Frey

Sacred Agriculture – Part 2

Frey Vineyards’ core values include purity, quality, truth in labeling and transparency. We choose to hang our hats on the Demeter Biodynamic Farming and Processing Standard that embodies all of these same principles.

This chart shows a concise history of the Biodynamic timeline and the foundations of Demeter:

Biodynamics Timeline
Click for larger picture.

Biodynamic® is defined by the Demeter Farm and Processing Standards and is protected via a certification mark, which is an inclusive type of trademark. Demeter International is the first, and remains, the only ecological association consisting of a network of individual certification organizations in 45 countries around the world. Demeter US has 163 members and reaches over 10,000 certified acres.

I’d like to point out that Demeter US was formed seventeen years before the USDA National Organic Program (NOP); following the evolution of farming practices in the last century, one could suggest that Biodynamic agriculture is the parent of organic. At Frey Vineyards we adhere to the Demeter Farm Standard, which incorporates NOP practices, but goes a step further because it retains the view of the farm as an integrated whole.

The Demeter standard requires whole farm certification. 10% of total acreage must be set-aside as wild area to promote biodiversity. Because the farm is managed as a self-contained system, fertility is generated via the integration of livestock, compost, green manure, and careful crop rotation. Disease and insect control are addressed through botanical species diversity, predator habitat, and attention to light penetration and air flow. The use of the preparations is required. There are eight preparations in all, made from herbs, mineral substances and animal manures, that are utilized in field sprays and compost inoculants applied in minute doses, much like homeopathic remedies are for humans.

The Farm Standard is historically significant because it dates back to the beginning of the modern sustainable agriculture movement and captures key agronomic principles not comprehensively addressed within any other agriculture certification system. As such, Biodynamic agriculture represents one of the highest paradigms of sustainable farming, and offers one of the smallest carbon footprints of any agricultural method.

Standards are developed democratically, seeking input from farmers and processors and then vetted and voted upon annually by the international Demeter board. The standards are living and evolving and deserve respect from everyone who cares about Biodynamic agriculture and anthroposophy.

Sheep in biodynamic vineyard
Lily Frey by Biodynamic Cabernet vineyard.

You’ll notice that the standard does not attempt to certify a farmer’s spirituality or understanding of Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy. We believe this is outside the scope of our work. However, we do observe that once a farmer begins to seriously apply the principles and practices of the Demeter standard, they are often quickly led to powerful personal insights.

Steps in biodynamics

So how does the Demeter standard inform what we do at Frey Vineyards? We plant leguminous cover crops for soil fertility (top left in photo above). We make our own compost from on farm ingredients (top right). All the herbs for the preparations are grown on the farm, and then applied to the vineyards and gardens (bottom left). And eventually the grapes are harvested at the peak of ripeness. Frey wines are then crafted and labeled in accordance to the Demeter Biodynamic Wine Standard (bottom right).

No GMO & solar powered

Over 32 years we’ve trained several hundred interns and aspiring farmers. Other Frey ranch activities include working winter grains into our cover crop rotations. We are doing everything we can to battle GMO’s and educate our customers and fellow farmers. And we continue to develop appropriate power for the winery.

Sacred Connections

In conclusion, Frey Vineyards is committed to the spirit and spread of biodynamic farming, starting with our children, our family, and our community.

John Muir was thinking about Sacred Connections when he wrote:

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find that it is bound fast, by a thousand invisible cords, that cannot be broken, to everything in the universe."

Eliza Frey
 
April 15, 2013 | Eliza Frey

Detectable Pesticides in Non-organic Wine

Testing by EXCELL Laboratories in France from the 2009 and 2010 vintages found that only 10% of 300 French wines were free of pesticide residue*. The majority of residues found were fungicides, which are applied late into the growing season. EXCELL Laboratory, which is owned and operated by Pascal Chatonnet, an innovative figure in the French wine business, now plans to offer pesticide residue testing to winery clients. Wines tested that contain no more than five substances in levels 100 times lower than the Maxium Residue Limits Set by the EEC** will be able to use EXCELL’s certification, called “+ Nature”. The idea is to have a scale of pesticide residue that can be put on wine labels so that consumers can choose wines with less contamination.

Frey Petite Sirah grapes
Frey Biodynamic Petite Sirah, pesticide-free.

A similar study by the European Pesticide Action Network in 2008 found that 100% of conventionally farmed wines in Europe contained pesticide residues. Many of the wines contained traces of several different pesticides. (View a PDF of the report here.) The organic wines tested in the study were all free of pesticides except one; researchers expected the presence of pesticides in the organic wine was due to chemical drift.

The EPA in the US and the EEA (European Environment Agency) would tell you not to worry because the levels of all pesticides were within the legal acceptable limits for each individual substance. This approach fails to look at cumulative levels of all pesticides that were found. Also, lack of research about how these substances interact in combination is a valid concern. As Chatonnet explains, “It is possible that the presence of several molecules combined is more harmful than a higher level of a single molecule.” Chatonnet and others advocate an industry wide shift towards less toxic pesticides, coupled with more precise application methods to avoid overuse of toxic substances.

These studies indicate the benefit of choosing Organic and Biodynamic wines and wines made from Organic and Biodynamic grapes. Not only do they lessen the impact on the environment, they lessen the consumer’s chemical burden. And now, with consistent growth in the Organic and Biodynamic wine sectors, there is more variety than ever before. Cheers To Your Health!

* You can read Decantuer magazine’s summary of EXCELL’s research here.

** The EEC is the EU-Eco Regulation, which is label for products and services that have a reduced environmental impact in the European Union. While raw agricultural commodities are subject to Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) set by EEC agreements, MRLs do not apply to processed foods, including wine. More info can be found here.

Frey Vineyards
 
April 14, 2013 | Frey Vineyards

This month's wine selection as described by Éva-Marie Lind

Éva-Marie Lind describes this month’s Wine Club selection. Empowered by passion, botanical beauty, science, and authenticity, Éva-Marie Lind is a Designer, Olfactory Artist, Perfumer, Healing Arts Facilitator and the CEO/founder of EM Studios Arome in Portland, Oregon. Ms. Lind has devoted over 30 years to innovations in scent and flavor, with the unique distinction that all ingredients are devoted to natural, ecological, and sustainable tenets. Focused to authenticity, transparency and integrating her work at source, seed to bottle, she has become a uniquely honed, one-of-a-kind design specialist in the field of aromatic and medicinal plants. Contact: em@emarome.com.

Eva Marie Lind

Here, Ms. Lind shares her sensory perceptions of the Frey Organic Wine Club selection for spring, from a perfumer's perspective.

Sauvignon Blanc 2011
She opened with the fresh zest of pink grapefruit kissed by grassy notes of lemongrass and perilla (shiso) leaf. A floral, powdery refrain of creamy honeysuckle, when the evening sun dips in the sky sufficiently to kiss her warmed waxy petals underneath, exposing her ‘winey’ impressions. Lemongrass unfolds, offering a sensation of fresh grated ginger, slightly pungent, lemony, laced with ribbons of honey and a spicy-sweet wood under-note. In fusion with the green, apple-pip of shiso, she lifts into a bright vibrancy. In the mouth there was an addition of juicy melon that merged to a seamless minerality, where all elements, that might otherwise appear resilient to one another, danced in harmony, and offered a lingering finish.

Pinot Noir 2012
This wine began with a bright yet delicate aroma that spoke to me of cashmere and Turkish rose petal, that offers less in her roseaceous characteristics, exposing more presence of her leaf and fruitiness, with an underskirt of soft spice. Teased with lemon blossom and brushed lightly with wild fennel and a hint of sweet cedar beneath. In the mouth she was slightly tart and delightfully soft, exposing cassis (black currant) having a simultaneous flirtation with sweet cherry, plum, a fringe of rhubarb and the suggestion of toasted caramel. She finished with a whisper of the floral that began at her nose.

Merlot 2010
She blossomed with a brushing of cassis merged with the creamy violet demeanor of orris butter, subtle blueberry and a hint of Tarocco orange zest with a gourmand underskirt. In the mouth her blueberry notes became bolder, opening to expose a surprise accent of sweet cherry and a hint of acai. Brighter notes of cassis followed, further feathered by orris, with accents of oakwood, the slightly peppered, fruity notes of clove bud and the sweet buttery notes offered from the cœur (heart), of zeylanicum cinnamon. Her ending was balanced with a refined, slightly smoked, earthy finish.

Biodynamic Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Uncorking the bottle was as if blackberry and fig were shaking hands, with a dusting of cacao and a hint of oak upfront. Nose deeper, caramel and the inner heart of nutmeg reached forward. In the mouth she was plush, with a lovely rush of herbaceous tannins, that held a suggestion of tarragon leaf before she is crushed, a touch of golden tobacco exposing glimmers of sun-dried hay that merged with a lingering of sweet wood offering a subtle richness weighted by dryness. All held a wonderful balance in the mouth with a lovely finish.

Frey Vineyards
 
April 5, 2013 | Frey Vineyards

A used bottle of Organic Agriculturist makes for a great vase!

From the "Before It's News" website, here's what one intrepid blogger made from a used bottle of Frey Organic Agriculturist. We could say this bottle contains a literal bouquet of rosemary and daffodil. If describing wine were always this easy!

Frey wine bottle as a vase.

Molly Frey
 
April 4, 2013 | Molly Frey

Cow adopts goat (as temporary favor to mother goat!)

We waited five months for all the baby goats to arrive and finally last March our herd of mothers delivered the next generation!

Goats in the vineyard
Baby goats in vineyard.

Ten baby goats joined the farm family with 8 of those being billy goats (males). Only a few weeks old, they're already learning how to play with each other by butting heads and frolicking in the fields. Each day Daniel herds the rambunctious crew to the vineyard in front of the winery where the grass is particularly lush this season. We've been having lots of visitors who come to meet the goats.

Baby goat
Baby goat nibling on a grape stem.

Last week, in all the excitement of walking the goats back from their pasture to the barn, one baby black goat got left behind. The little billy must have been hiding with the cows or the sheep who were also enjoying the pasture when the goats were called in. When we went back to get him, we were delighted to find that the little goat made new friends with his pasture neighbors the cows. In fact, he had established a special bond with Maybelle, who happily allowed him to nurse to keep his energy up while his goat mother was unavailable!

Baby goat suckling cow
Sweet spring days of milk on the Frey farm! This orphaned goat found a bovine surrogate while its new step-sibling looked on. Later it was returned to its mama goat.

Frey Vineyards
 
February 6, 2013 | Frey Vineyards

Frey 2010 Cabernet Wins Gold at the Millésime Bio, France!

On January 28-30 Katrina and Jonathan Frey attended the Millésime Bio, the largest organic wine trade show in the world, held in Montpellier, France.  The festival was particularly special this year, not only because of its 20-year anniversary, but also because Frey won a gold medal for our 2010 Organic Cabernet Sauvignon!  To be chosen out of nearly 700 exhibitors from 11 countries in Europe, South America, and South Africa was quite an honor (we likened it to the organic wine version of the “Judgment of Paris” in 1976!) and we were proud to be the only medal winner from the U.S.  In addition to the annual wine competition, the 3-day trade conference holds seminars on organic winemaking, wine tourism, resistant grape varieties, and the new European winemaking regulations.

Established in 1993 by a group of winemakers in Languedoc-Rousillon, the Millésime Bio continues to be the gold standard for international organic wine.  This is Frey’s fourth year participating in the event, and it’s always a great venue for catching up with some of our organic pals.  “It’s a great exchange of knowledge,” says Katrina Frey. “We’re very excited to see more European interest in non-sulfited winemaking.”

Frey Organic Wine receives gold medal in France.
Jonathan and Kartrina Frey accept the Gold Medal for the 2010 Frey Organic Cabernet Sauvignon at Millésime Bio, France, 2013.

Meeting John and Jane Lang
Meeting our UK distributors John and Jane Lang from GoodWineOnLine. Interest in Biodynamic wine is huge in the UK.

Meeting non-sulfited winemaker from Portugal.
Jonathan discusses additive-free winemaking with Rodrigo Filipe from Portugal, who just made his first non-sulfite wine, Humus.

Eve Cartier from Mas de Gourgonnier.
Eve Cartier from the Provence winery Mas de Gourgonnier worked with us 7 years ago. They produce beautiful organic olive oil and wines, and now a sulfite-free wine.

Karl and Eva Schnabe.
New friends Karl and Eva Schnabe, from Weingut in Austria. The Schnabels make natural wines and pasture cows in their vineyards.