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.
Check out this interview with Katrina & Jonathan Frey of Frey Organic Wines, produced by the great people at GIAIM – Healthy Green Living. The interview was recorded a few years ago.
A few photos we'd like to share with you from our first-annual "In Love with Redwood Valley" Wine & Chocolate Pairing, in conjunction with other wineries of the valley. There was a large turnout of chocolate nibblers and wine sippers. We hope you can join us next year! By the way, here's an interesting article on the health benefits of wine and chocolate in moderation. There are also studies out there showing that organic foods have higher levels of anti-cancer substances than non-organic foods, which we'd like to write about in a future post.
Peter and Derek pour wine and answer questions at this year's wine and chocolate pairing.
An array of gourmet organic chocolates, dark and white, to sample with the wine.
Guests relax outside the winery on a fine February afternoon. We hope to see you next year!
Attention future brides and grooms! As we seek to bring eco-consciousness into all aspects of our lives, your wedding celebrations can take on a whole new dimension. Frey Organic Wines was recently featured in the new book Green Wedding: Planning Your Eco-Friendly Celebration. The book, written by New York Times style correspondent Mireya Navarro, lists our certified Organic Wines as a perfect fit for eco friendly nuptials!
It is a beautiful book full of nice photos, inspirational examples and practical solutions to common challenges in wedding planning. Also included are ideas for locations, alternative gifting options, tree-free invitations, local decorations, seasonal cuisine, socially responsible honeymooning and green lifestyle choices for the new couple.
The book is available at mireyanavarro.com. The book cover is shown below.
(Eighty-five year old Beba Frey of Frey Vineyards is an avid bird watcher. She recently wrote down some thoughts on her favorite pastime. The bird to the right is a Pileated Woodpecker, taken by Nathan Frey in woodlands adjacent the vineyards. In a future post we will talk about the many bird houses we have set up around the vineyards and the species of birds that use them to raise their hatchlings each year.)
I yelped. I was looking at the bird feeder outside my window. There, pecking bird seeds, was a strange (to me) large black saucy bird. For a fleeting moment I took it for a Brewer’s blackbird. But no, it had a graceful crest of black and fiery red eyes. It was early March. Then I remembered. Thirty years earlier in northern Mexico I had seen and identified the same black bird sitting proudly on a bush as the Phainopepla. It was my only sighting here in Redwood Valley. The name is as lovely as the bird. It is Greek for “shining robe,” undoubtedly referring to its sleek smooth body. Then two weeks later, for a scarce 4 minutes, two male Phainopeplas and 2 females (gray in color but with a similar crown) visited my feeder. They like mistletoe berries. I have never heard its “short soft whistle,” as described in the bird book. But I look for their return every day.
Mendocino County is the proverbial birder’s paradise. The temperate climate keeps many species here year round. Rivers, lakes, fields, woods, meadows abound with our fine feathered friends. And the mighty Pacific with its large swooping sea birds hugs the Mendocino coastline. The result is a plethora of bird species, here either all year long or passing through along the coastline or inland valleys on their way north or south. We love the loud honking of geese as they head north or south in their elongated V high in the sky. As our valley narrows on its way north it is home to the occasional pair of bald eagles which hunt unsuspecting smaller prey up and down the swiftly descending creek.
A pair of red-tailed hawks and their descendents have been in the same stretch of woods adjacent the vineyards for the last 40 years. We hear their particular series of cries, always starting on the same note and slurring downward. We wonder whether they nest in the same tree year after year or just in the same area. They consider this region home as surely as we do.
Harvest 2009 at Frey Organic Vineyards finally came to a close when the last gondola of organic Cabernet dumped into the crusher at 10PM, October 27th. During harvest, the cellar crew (affectionately known as "cellar rats") stayed up late each night making sure all the tasty grapes got crushed and pumped to the tanks for fermentation. 2009 is proving to be good year for organic winegrapes, with nice yields and delicious fruit – a welcome change for all of Mendocino County as last year many grape growers lost a significant percentage of grapes to severe frosts in the spring. This year's quality grapes are sure to produce some fantastic wines. Harvest might be wrapped up, but organic & biodynamic winemaking continues fast and furious until the end of the year. We should be releasing the first of the 2009 vintage white wines early next year.
#1 New York Times Bestseller Skinny Bitch recommends Frey Wine. This very popular book is a “no-nonsense guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous!” The book details the benefits of a vegan diet and exposes some of the dangerous hidden chemicals and cruelty in many of the foods we eat, including the dangers of sulfites and other synthetic preservatives added to wine. Give Skinny Bitch a read today!