Thirteen billion bottles of wine are consumed annually -- that’s a lot of corks left over when the drinking is done! At present, the majority of corks end up in landfills instead of in re-use applications; in the hands of ReCork, they can have a second use. ReCork is North America’s largest cork recycling initiative and is giving wine corks new life in the form of footwear and other upcycled products.
With the help of over 1,700 recycling partners, ReCork has collected over 44 million corks. ReCork frequently partners with wineries, restaurants, wine bars, grocery stores and hotels to collect natural corks. Once collected, the corks are ground down and repurposed for use in new consumer products. SOLE, ReCork’s parent company, produces cork-soled footwear for women and men. In addition to shoes, recycled cork can also be used in flooring, gaskets, bulletin boards, sports equipment, and even used as a soil amendment in compost (natural cork is a valuable source of CO2 retention).
Compared to aluminum screwcaps and petroleum-based plastic plugs, the production of traditional cork wine stoppers has the smallest environmental footprint. While some alternative closure manufacturers are beginning trial recycling efforts, natural cork is still the easiest and best material to recycle: it is biodegradable, renewable, energy efficient, sustainable and 100% natural.
Unlike many forest products, cork oaks are never cut down for their bark. Cork oaks (Quercus suber L.) provide an ideal sustainable crop during a life cycle that lasts over 200 years. A mature, 50 year-old tree can be harvested approximately every 9 years for the life of the tree. Here in California, you can find giant cork oaks on the grounds of the State Capital in Sacramento, on the campus of UC Davis, and a few scattered around as specimen trees in Mendocino County. However, the Mediterranean basin is where most of the world's cork is sourced. There are nearly 6 million acres of cork forests in the Mediterranean regions of Portugal, Spain, Algeria, Morocco, Italy, Tunisia and France, with Portugal being the largest producer by far. The Mediterranean cork oak forests are the basis of an ecosystem which is unique in the world, and which contributes to the survival of many native species of plants and animals, including the endangered European gray wolf and the Mountain Iberian wild goat. It is also a source of employment for tens of thousands of agricultural workers. In addition to their recycling program, ReCork has partnered with QUERCUS (the Portuguese National Association for Nature Conservation) and Criar Bosques, a tree planting initiative in Portugal, and planted over 8,000 cork oaks in the Mediterranean.
Want to know how to get involved? The simplest way is to drop off your corks at a ReCork Public Collection Partner in your area. We’ve been collecting our corks at the Frey Ranch and then dropping them off at our local Ukiah Food Co-op, but you can use ReCork’s nifty drop-off locater to find a location near you. If there is no partner in your area, you can send your corks directly to ReCork in 15lb increments, shipping charges paid. 15lbs equals about 1650 corks (that’s a lot of Frey wine!) so we recommend banding together with your neighbors or workplace to make a joint effort in collecting. By recycling a simple cork stopper we can visualize the product source, its evolution into a useful natural product, and its potential for an extended life far beyond its first use in a bottle of fine wine.
Milked by hand, made by hand! (Our cheese is not for retail sale, but you can try it at ourWine Club events at the winery!)
Milk was never appealing to me. It was rather tasteless and too watery, not to mention the fact that it came in a plastic bag on which the words “homogenized” and “pasteurized” were clearly highlighted. That is part of what I experienced growing up in a big city like Bogotá, Colombia. At least, to balance things out, home-made cooking was the norm and grandma’s love for the kitchen could turn any store-bought produce into a delicious meal.
For the past six months I have been working and apprenticing at Luke Frey’s Biodynamic Farm at the Frey Ranch in Redwood Valley where I have been given the task of milking two lovely Jersey cows and turning their milk into a variety of dairy products, especially cheese.
Where it all begins.
Could raw milk really taste so delicious? Could real butter seem so yellow? Could fresh whey be so sweet? Could the cream that rises to the top be so thick? Could one fall in love with the art of making cheese and devote oneself to tending the wheels as if they were tender living creatures? These are some of the questions that confronted me as I entered into this commonsensical way of living.
The farm also produces an abundance of seasonal vegetables, herbs and fruits as well as fresh eggs. Meat is harvested once or twice a year from the different farm animals in a humane and conscious way.
With this vast array of wholesome ingredients the possibility of creation is limitless and the sacrificial act of cooking and eating brings satisfaction beyond measure. When one sits at a table and beholds the many simple delicacies that have been handcrafted and gathered within an eighth of a mile radius, it becomes a healing experience that nourishes the whole of man. At least this has been my experience.
Emily (wife of Luke Frey) and Christian with the final product!
Thus, it’s not surprising to find that when one participates harmoniously with the stream of life, it has the potential to evolve further through our own efforts. So, in a sense, real alchemy is at our fingertips as long as we become familiar with and respect the integrity of life. For this, the farm environment offers an ideal setting for greater learning, enjoyment and exploration.
Our cheese is not for retail sale, but you can try it at our Wine Club events at the winery!
"The Organic Vineyard Alliance (OVA) is a group of winemakers, retailers and distributors who have come together to educate, inform and enlighten you about the benefits of organic wine." - From the OVA Website.
For those of you who love staying informed about the latest in the organic wine industry, a great new website has just been launched. The Organic Vineyard Alliance has been spearheaded by seasoned industry members and offers knowledge and clarification around organic wine.
The site is easy to navigate and full of great information. There is a series of videos featuring our executive director Katrina Frey and other organic winemakers. Also check out the awesome table that lays out the differences between wine categories including USDA Organic, Made with Organically grown grapes, Biodynamic and more.
As time goes on this website is sure to become a clearinghouse for the savvy consumer who wants to keep up to date on the latest and greatest that the industry has to offer. Start exploring now!
Blackberry hedge next to Frey organic and biodynamic Chardonnay vineyard.
Hot summer days have brewed up delicious batches of tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, and basil. Our Mediterranean climate offers us a diverse crop of annuals to accompany the vast bounty of vineyards coming into fruition. The gardens are producing all kinds of delectable veggies, but the grapes are still getting the solar power they need for their glory in the Fall. I watch the grapes ripening each morning as I walk the rows, the clusters getting bigger and bigger as the weeks go by and the sun shines down. When the summer heat has passed, the fruit will be plenty plump and their sugars rich enough for the harvest!
Ripening organic grapes.
In Spring, my food foraging walks in the vineyards began with ripe mulberries; now there are peaches, too. The blackberries in the hedgerows are wildly stretching their tendrils. Besides providing food and habitat to local wildlife, they are one of my favorite foraging delights.
Ripe peaches in the vineyard!
The grapes take center stage as the heat wanes and the season shifts to cooler days and longer nights. Last but not least, our olive trees will be ready to give their gifts to the press for full-bodied oils. When enjoying a bottle of Frey Biodynamic wine, we hope you will appreciate the terroir of the land that encompasses the richness of not just the grapevines, but the diverse array of flavors, in concert.
Organic olive tree in Frey biodynamic vineyard.
This is a simple veggie dish, and both vegans and meat eaters will love it. It will go perfectly with a pesto pasta or grilled chicken, or even as the main course. It has no meat, no dairy products, yet has an almost meaty flavor and texture!
Serves 6 to 8
1 cup Frey Biodynamic Chardonnay
4 cloves peeled garlic
1 apple, core removed
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. chopped rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
3/4 cup olive oil
2 red bell peppers
2 yellow bell peppers
4 portobello mushrooms
3 onions (1 red, 1 yellow, 1 white, if possible)
2 fresh tomatoes, or 8 cherry tomatoes
The Marinade: Except for the olive oil, put all the ingredients for the marinade into a blender, (or Cuisinart). Pour in the Chardonnay, then throw in the garlic cloves, the apple, cayenne, rosemary, bay leaves, honey, Dijon mustard, and the salt. Blend it for a few seconds. Then pour in the olive oil very slowly, in a thin stream, with the blender running. Your marinade is ready!
Chop the Veggies: Chop them up but not too much! Leave them big and chunky, like large slices of meat. I prefer red and yellow bell peppers as their colorful hues are not lost to the roasting as much as green peppers. I also prefer various colors of onions to have in the mix, all of which adds to the visual delight of the final product. If the bit of stem on the portobellos look dried or aged, you can cut them off, but keep those portobello slices big and thick. The same for the zucchini slices.
Let’s Marinate! Put the chopped veggies into a large bowl and pour over the marinade. Stir the veggies thoroughly so the marinade coats every piece. Let it sit for 4 hours, remixing about every 45 minutes as the marinade tends to settle to the bottom of the bowl.
Let’s Roast! Put the marinated veggies into a wide roasting pan (such as a cookie sheet or lasagna pan) and spread it out about an inch high. Put in pre-heated oven at 400 degree. After fifteen minutes, stir the veggies with a spoon. Cook for another 10 minutes and check if veggies are done to your liking. I prefer them al dente, with some firmness still on the insides and not mushy through and through. Garnish with slices of fresh tomatoes. Enjoy with a glass of Frey Biodynamic Chardonnay!
(Recipe & images copyrighted © Tamara Frey, 2013. All right reserved.)
Below are photos of some of the steps for this recipe:
Portobellos sliced thick.
Pouring in the marinade over the chopped vegetables.
Stirring and coating the veggies with the marinade.
(Recipe & images copyrighted © Tamara Frey, 2013. All right reserved.)
We've long known that Pinot Noir is widely popular among this planet's wine lovers. What we didn't know was which brand is likely favored in the galaxy at large. George Takei (Sulu) of Star Trekfame gives his best guess, spotted recently in Los Angeles by our intrepid regional rep Lee Boek. Looks like only organic wine gets beamed up! Thanks for the photo, Lee!
Sulu preparing to beam up.
Katrina Frey was interviewed by Elizabeth Dougherty at Food Nation Radio. They talk about GMO yeasts, wine labling standards, and wine additives. Click here to listen!
Elizabeth Dougherty of Food Nation Radio
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!
Pouring on the Dessertage Vinaigrette to the Sole Salad.
1 lb. sole fish (vegan alternative: portobello mushroom, 4 large caps)
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
2 teaspoons coconut oil
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.
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!”
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.)
Our lovely vegan-friendly Organic Chardonnay has been nominated for Vegetarian Times' 2013 Foodie Awards!
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.
Ann Krohn & Eliza Frey in tee’s dyed with grape juice and the 2005 Frey Biodynamic® Syrah pictured here.