We just completed our second wheat harvest, all of it grown between rows of our organic vineyards. This cereal harvest is a part of our ongoing experimentation with growing local organic food with the wine grapes.
Ripe organic wheat ready for harvest between the vines.
This year brought some changes to the wheat program, as Frey Vineyards bought out the other members of the group that originally purchased the mini-combine, while they upgraded their own machine for wheat harvesting in Mendocino County. Check out their website at Mendocino Grain Project. Having our own combine now gives us more flexibility for timing the harvest and experimenting with different crops.
Matthew Frey running the combine in the Frey Potter Valley vineyard.
A repair on the combine allowed us to harvest the wheat more efficiently. It now reaps a much larger percentage of the crop and the grains are coming out cleaner. The grinding stone also got a facelift, as Matthew Frey installed a new motor with variable speed, allowing us to fine-tune the grinding process.
Derek and Matthew harvesting organic wheat from between rows of organic winegrapes.
The crop in our Redwood Valley vineyards weighed in at over one thousand pounds. At our Potter Valley vineyard, which has very fertile soils, we pulled in over 3,000 pounds! Time to get baking! We hope to offer samples of the flour to our wine club members. You can join here! We will also be serving bread from our homegrown wheat at our upcoming midsummer party, Saturday, August 6th. Come and taste the wonder of fresh ground grains!
Young organic sunflowers at Frey Vineyards.
At Frey Vineyards this year we are experimenting with growing sunflowers to press for high quality organic oils. Sunflower oil is great for cooking and as a body oil. The plants also provide excellent food for our ranch bees as the flowers mature. Sunflower oil is the most important source of food oil in the world, and we are excited to start producing it here.
We chose the Russian cultivar Peredovik sunflower (Helianthus annus). While most sunflowers have an oil content of 25-35%, the peredovic can yield up to 50% oil from its small black seeds. The Peredovic sunflower also has a very short growing season of about 12 weeks which allows plenty of time to maturity despite our wet and soggy spring this year. We will harvest in the fall and press the seeds in our cold-press seed press. This year we expect about 25 gallons and hope to expand in the future.
The sunflower project fits nicely into our ever-expanding quest for more local sources of basic food products. We can harvest them with our small combine, which is also used for harvesting wheat that is interplanted in our vineyards. The spent press cake of the sunflower is a high quality feed for livestock and the stalks will make a great addition to our compost piles.
We will keep you posted about our progress!
Our southern California wine reps extraordinaires Sophie Boutoroff and Lee Boek did a Frey Wine tasting for art lovers at the home of pianist Natasha Marin and her husband Cheech Marin of Cheech and Chong fame. They sent along this photo:
Frey Wine rep Lee Boek with Cheech Marin
While at Millésime Bio in Montpellier this year, Eliza Frey and Derek Dahlen met Jason Cole, an American wine educator living in France. He teaches at SupAgro as part of their European Vine and Wine Masters Program: Vinifera Euromaster. SupAgro is an international center for higher education in agricultural sciences that teaches students from around the world. Jason took a bottle of our 2009 Organic Zinfandel to share with his class. Zinfandel is a fascinating wine for Europeans, as it is a New World grape that isn't grown outside the US. The students from all over the world were thankful and intrigued by an organic wine from California in their selection, as they expressed personally bellow. Thanks Jason for exposing your class to Frey Organic Zinfandel!
Below are thank-you notes from the class:
In January 2011, Eliza Frey, Derek Dahlen and Alex Frei represented Frey Vineyards at Millésime Bio, Europe’s premier organic wine conference, held each year in Montpellier, France. Frey was awarded a bronze medal for our 2009 Pinot Noir – quite an honor for a no-sulfites-added organic wine at a French wine competition!
The conference featured over 500 producers of wines made from organically grown grapes and an ever-increasing number of producers making wines with no added sulfites. It is great to know that the additive-free wine culture in Europe is alive and well. Along with our friends Phil and Judy LaRocca of LaRocca Vineyards in Forest Ranch, California, we represented organic, non-sulfited winemaking in the USA and stressed the need for purity and the exclusion of additives as the European Union struggles to develop their organic wine standards.
Attendees at the Millésime Bio 2011, Montpellier, France.
Frey Organic Pinot Noir vineyard with clover cover crop.
Happy Spring from all of us at Frey Vineyards! It has been another wet and cold spring here in Mendocino County, Northern California. Bud break on the grapes was about 2 weeks late and we have already received well over our annual rainfall. In the vineyards, pruning is almost finished and our inter-planted grain crop is coming along nicely. In the cellar, we are racking and filtering our 2010 wines and just releasing the first whites (Organic Sauvignon Blanc) with Pinot Noir right around the corner. Please find below some news from the Vineyards and as always, a safe and healthy season to all!
Katrina Frey was invited to address the Washington Spa Alliance’s 2011 Symposium, which took place in Washington DC on March 24. She joined a series of leaders in the fields of integrative medicine, cuisine and healthy lifestyles. Her talk covered organic wine and food issues, GMO’s and Biodynamic farming. Questions from the attendees focused on purity and the need to have additive-free products for truly holistic spas. The mission of the Washington Spa alliance is to act as a knowledge center and to connect spa professionals. Katrina encouraged them to integrate certified organic wine and food products into their dining rooms.
If you're in the Bay Area on Saturday, June 4th, don't miss the benefit for and preview of Kiss the Cook & the Farmer Too, a 13-part public television series about great food and sustainable agriculture, taking place at Hillside Gardens, Mill Valley, California. Frey Vineyards is a proud supporter of Kiss The Cook and The Farmer Too, and our wine will be served at the event. We hope you'll be there!
San Francisco-based Organic Conversation Radio show with Helge Hellberg and Mark Mulcahy recently interviewed Katrina Frey and others as part of their "Celebrating Women Leadership" Earth Day special.
Katrina was interviewed first, where she talks about the fight to keep added sulfites out of organic wine.
You can hear the complete show and all the interviews at Organic Conversation's website.
Katrina Frey with Kirstie Alley and Karen Black!
Katrina Frey with actor Ed Begley Jr.
Jon and Katrina Frey danced with the stars at Kirstie Alley’s Celebrity Block Party in Los Angeles on March 9th, 2011. The party was attended by Hollywood bigwigs who loved tasting Frey wines, the nation’s premium award-winning organic wine. Kirstie has developed Organic Liaison Rescue Me, the first USDA certified organic weight loss product. Thanks, Kirstie, for choosing organic products and promoting the green lifestyle!