After a decade of correspondence between Frey Vineyards and yeast producer Llalemand, we are happy to announce the use of our first certified organic yeast for the 2010 Frey vintage. Llalemand, our longtime yeast provider, has always been committed to GMO free production but has now raised the bar with their first certified organic product, made especially for Frey Organic Wines.
Organic yeast is manufactured by feeding the yeast cultures organic foods rich in sugar and nitrogen, such as organic molasses and organic sunflower oil. This high quality traditional organic yeast is now used in all of our 2010 organic wines. (Frey Biodynamic wines are still made with no added yeast, fermented with their own natural yeasts in accordance with Biodynamic winemaking standards.)
For the 2010 harvest we invested in new equipment to implement whole-cluster pressing for our white wines. Whole-cluster pressing is a gentler form of pressing white juice. Instead of being macerated in a crusher before entering the press, the grapes travel on a conveyor directly into the press. This technique limits the extraction of phenolics into white wines. It gives white wines smoother flavors, more fruit quality and better aging capacity. The result is a smoother, high quality white with more staying power, especially important for non-sulfited white wines. Look for the release of our delicious new 2010 whites next spring!
Frey Organic White Sauvignon Blanc grapes.
In August, our assistant winemaker Eliza Frey was interviewed on Good Dirt Radio. She talks about biodynamic grapegrowing and the benefits of eating organic. She appears about halfway through the show.
We are happy to announce the return of our Gewurztraminer, from Guntly Vineyards!
Gewurztraminer is most famously grown in Germany and the Alsace region of France, but its origin can be traced back to the varietal Traminer, from the village of Tramin in the German-speaking region of northern Italy. The relatively weak genetics of Traminer have led to several related varietals, including Frankisch, Gringet, Heida, Grumin and Formentin. Viognier, from the Rhone region of France, is also believed to be a distant relative of Gewurztraminer and shares the spicy, aromatic character.
The name Gewurztraminer (guh-voorts-tra-meaner) is derived from the German “Gewurz” which means spice or perfume, and the grape itself “Traminer” meaning “spiced Traminer.” Our organically-grown and made version continues the tradition of spice and we think you’ll enjoy the wine’s heady, aromatic character with notes of lychee, rose, passion fruit and floral aromas. The wine is dry, crisp and delicious, not syrupy and sweet. It’s perfect when chilled for a refreshing summer afternoon.
Guntly organic Gewurztraminer vineyard, source of the Frey organic varietal.
Organic Guntly Gewurztraminer vines, near Potter Valley, Mendocino County, California.
Stephen Cooper and Shaun Phillips from the San Diego Chargers were shooting The Learning Channel’s upcoming cooking show, "Kick Off Cook Off." And look what’s on their cooking station counter: Frey Organic Cabernet Sauvignon. Though we're loyal 49er fans here in Northern California, in this case we yell wholeheartedly, Go Chargers!
We are pleased to announce the release of our 2009 wines! 2009 was a fine year for grape growing and winemaking; good spring weather resulted in a nice fruit set and we had excellent ripening conditions throughout the summer and early fall. We collaborated with over 20 local organic family farmers to crush around 1400 tons of grapes, including those grown on our own farm.
Just released are the 2009 Organic Syrah, Organic Pinot Noir, Organic Chardonnay, and Organic Sauvignon Blanc.
We are also pleased to announce the return of Gewurztraminer, grown by local rancher Buck Guntly at Cold Creek Vineyards. The 2009 Gewurztraminer will be available in September.
The 2009 wines are smooth and fruity and ready to drink. We hope you will enjoy them as much as we do!
In contrast to the excellent 2009 grape growing season, 2008 was a challenging year for Mendocino County vintners. Late season frosts caused up to a 50% loss of fruit in several vineyards and the legendary Mendocino summer wildfires of '08 introduced winemakers to the challenge of smoke taint in some wines. We are happy to move forward with 2009, a balanced and delicious vintage!
One of the herb gardens at Frey Vineyars.
As the weather warms with spring, we find ourselves wanting to reconnect with the sun, plants and the soil. What better way than to get outside and garden? For those of you who love wine and gardening, consider planting a wine sensory garden with fruits, veggies and herbs that compliment your favorite wines.
Tasting wine is a full-body experience. Wherever you taste wine the colors and smells of the tasting area, as well as your mood and state of mind, influence how a wine tastes. Wine sensory gardens deepen the sensory experience by incorporating sight and touch. When tasting wine in a garden, the aroma is enjoyed by the nose, the taste and texture by the mouth. But you also engage your eyes and experience the sight and colors of surrounding plants, as well as other senses to enjoy the smell, taste, and touch of the garden.
Wine sensory gardens are usually segregated into white and red sections, with sitting areas in each for tasting and dining. The gardens are arranged into blocks, each corresponding to a given varietal, such as Chardonnay or Zinfandel. Upon entering the space, you are surrounded by the color and scent of the garden, as well as the plants whose flavors are used to describe the particular varietal. This enhances your tasting experience and compliments the flavor and aroma of the wine. For instance, the Chardonnay garden would have white, yellow, and light green foliage, maybe a pear and apple tree; perhaps a beehive, and also herbs that pair well with Chardonnay, such as tarragon and lemon thyme. A Zinfandel garden could have raspberries and blackberries, as well as red-leafed plants, perhaps some sweet peppers and coriander. Cabernet gardens can have bell pepper, rosemary and chocolate mint.
Below is a list of common wine varietals, and some of the plants whose flavors are commonly used to describe their flavors.
White Wine Garden Plants
Melon, corn, sweet pepper, fennel, artichoke, lemon, grapefruit, peach, pear, apple
Chardonnay – Apple, pear, lemon, lavender, honey (beehive), gardenia.
Sauvignon Blanc – Citrus, dill, lovage, mint, cilantro, ginger, honeysuckle
Red Wine Garden Plants
Squash, tomatoes, parsley, beets, eggplant, potato, pomegranate, raspberry, blackberry, mushrooms, oak
Pinot Noir – Plum, sweet basil, oregano, mint, violets, strawberries
Sangiovese – Garlic, sage, basil, currant,
Syrah – Prune plum, sage, basil
Petite Sirah – Chives, rosemary, oregano, red pepper
Cabernet Sauvignon – Bell pepper, rosemary, chives, mustard, oak, cedar
Merlot- Bell pepper, nasturtium, patchouli
Zinfandel – Raspberry, blackberry, oregano
Once you have created a beautiful sipping space, it is time to start enjoying it! A sitting area allows you and your guests to relax and take a break from today’s busy world and enjoy the sights and scents of your garden. Perhaps share a meal cooked with fresh produce and herbs from your garden. (See previous blog below!)
When pairing food and wine the goal is to create a complement of flavors that enhances the taste of each. Today, many chefs are taking it further by pairing wine to the specific herbs they use in dishes. French chefs have used herb-infused wine sauces for centuries, creating flavorful classic bistro dishes like mussels steamed in wine and herbs.
Spring is one of the best times of year to harvest and eat fresh herbs, when they are putting out their tender, potent new shoots that burst with flavor. A foolproof sauce for any combination of wine and herbs is to melt butter (for vegans use a butter substitute like Earth Balance spread or olive oil) in a saucepan and add herbs and wine and salt to taste, cooking it down until it thickens slightly. Serve over meat or vegetables.
We recommend the following herb and wine combinations and encourage you to experiment with new ones!
Chardonnay – tarragon, lemon, lemon thyme, basil, lavender
Frey Natural White – tarragon, marjoram, thyme, chervil
Sauvignon Blanc – dill, lovage, mint, cilantro, ginger, lemongrass
Pinot Noir – sweet basil, oregano, mint
Frey Natural Red – basil, thyme and sage
Sangiovese – garlic, sage, basil, rosemary, oregano
Syrah – sage, basil, rosemary, chocolate mint
Petite Sirah – chives, rosemary, oregano, black pepper
Cabernet Sauvignon – rosemary, chives, black pepper, mustard, chocolate mint
Merlot – basil, oregano, white pepper
Zinfandel – chipotle peppers, cumin, coriander
We're proud to report that healthy-living advocate Diana Stobo recommends Frey Organic Wines in her new book,Get Naked Fast. Check out her website!
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.