This past spring, Katrina and Marie added an innovative type of hive box construction to the ranch apiary. Both hives are thriving in their specially designed homes, and the engineering of the boxes allow the beekeeper to be less invasive and more observant, while fostering natural comb building tendencies of the bees. For more information on biodynamic beekeeping, and the "golden" one-room hive design, check out the Melissa Gardens of Healdsburg, California.
In the photo above, Marie's bees dwell at the entrance to the winery, welcoming one and all to Frey Vineyards. Situated between an Asian pear tree and a small orchard of hardy lemons, the bees are across the road from the winery weigh station for grape gondolas. The bees find themselves "helping" out with the wine grape harvest by tapping the grape juice flowing in during this season. We wonder if we can tell the grape honey from the other floral creations the bees provide throughout the year.
Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson recently chose her top 5 earth-friendly wines, among them Frey Organic Petite Sirah, 2006 vintage. We have recently sold out of 2006 Organic Petite Sirah, but bottles may still be available in stores. Our current Organic Petite Sirah is from vintage 2007, and similarly delicious.
Ms. Robinson adds, "This winery has long been committed to organic farming and winemaking without added sulfites...." You may read al of it at delish.com.
We haven't included this topic yet on our own website, but we're happy to let PlantWhateverBringsYouJoy.com beat us to it! Local author Kathryn Hall visited us recently to check out straw bale gardening by our resident gardener Marie.
This “lasagna” is made with all raw ingredients, a perfect summertime entrée that is a great way to showcase some fresh garden veggies. The recipe seems long, but is quite simple. You will need a potato peeler and a food processor. Remember to use fresh, organic ingredients whenever possible.
The lasagna can be prepared in a casserole dish up to 24 hours in advance, or can be layered to individual plates and served, as shown in the photos. Either way it is a healthy, hearty dish that will please seasoned raw foodies and novices alike. Enjoy!
Makes one 8x12 casserole or six pieces of Lasagna
Bay Laurel Olive Oil
1/2 cup extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil
3 Bay Laurel leaves
Make your infused olive oil 1-2 days before preparing the lasagna for maxium extraction. Finely chop or tear the bay leaves and put them into the oil, cover and let stand at room temperature, strain before using.
2 medium zucchini
12 large swiss chard leaves
2 wide heirloom tomatoes
The zucchini and chard “noodles” can be prepared up to 12 hours in advance, they are tastier if allowed to wilt for a while.
Cut each chard leaf into 2-4 pieces, depending on the size of the leaf. Using a rolling pin or glass jar, firmly roll the leaves until you see that they are bruised (you can also use a mallet or the base of a glass and pound them until bruised). Bruising the leaves softens the tissue and makes them tastier and easier to digest. After they are well-bruised, place them on a plate, sprinkling a little vinegar between each leaf, set aside.
With a potato peeler, “slice” the zucchini across its mid section. The result is a wide and flexible “noodle”.
With a serrated knife, slice the heirloom tomato into several thin rounds.
4 paste tomatoes, such as Roma, (or any other tomato, but the sauce will be more watery)
1/3 cup Frey Organic Syrah wine
1 red or green bell pepper
1 fresh cayenne pepper
1/2 cup roughly chopped onion
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
4 cloves garlic
nutritional yeast (optional)
sea salt to taste
Combine ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Nutritional yeast can be added if the sauce is too liquid.
Olive Pine Nut Paste
3/4 cup sun cured black olives
3/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup goji berries or date meat
Combine ingredients in a food processor and blend. Add a little water, wine, or oil if the mixture is too dry.
Herbed Cashew “Cheese”
1 1/2 cup soaked raw cashews
3 Tbs. Thyme
3 Tbs. Fresh parsley
3 Tbs. Fresh Basil
sea salt to taste
Combine ingredients in a food processor and blend. Add a little water, wine, or oil if the mixture is too dry.
Layer the noodles, marinara, olive paste and cheese, drizzling the infused olive oil between layers. Garnish with fresh basil and serve. Enjoy!
Note: Numerous variations of this recipe are possible. Some like to make a mushroom or walnut pate instead of the olive paste. Carrots also make nice noodles if sliced with the peeler. You can use any herbs or make it spicier by adding more pepper or garlic. With fresh organic ingredients, you can’t go wrong!
Late last night, after all the ranch had gone to sleep, we heard a bellowing coming from the barn. The much anticipated births from our cows had come, and the mother, Gracie, was announcing her first calf. This morning we celebrated the calf's first day!
Frey Organic Wine wins the People’s Choice Award for Best Organic Red and White Wine at the 2009 All Things Organic Show!
Thank you to all who voted for our 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2007 Chardonnay.
Hosted by the Organic Trade Association, the 2009 All Things Organic Show took place in Chicago at McCormick Place on June 17th and 18th, 2009. Attendees participated in the largest Trade Show in the United States dedicated to organic products and the well being of the organic industry here and abroad. Speakers included Phil Lempart, the Supermarket Guru and Kathleen Merrigan, USDA Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. Thanks again to all of those who participated in the award and cast your vote!
Derek, Eliza, & Dale at the 2009 All Things Organic.
Over the course of history, all favorable grape varieties have been selected and cloned from wild vines.To reproduce a desirable grape, new plants are made from cuttings. All established grape varietals grown today were cloned from individual seedlings that people favored centuries ago.
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay share a parent grape, Gouais blanc, which is believed to have originated in Croatia. Seldom grown today, it is an important ancestor of many French and German grape varieties. Pinot Noir has been cultivated since at least Roman times and is believed to be only 1 or 2 generations removed from its wild ancestors in northeastern France or southwestern Germany.
Pinot Noir is one of the parent varieties of Chardonnay, which originated in the Burgundy region of France, from 700 to 1,700 years ago. Our 2008 Organic Chardonnay white wine is the perfect balance of fruity aromas and light French oak and pairs well with grilled fresh veggies, chicken and fish. It also tastes great mixed with a little sparkling water and ice cubes next to a plate of cheese and fruit – a favorite after-work snack for our office staff.
We source our top quality organic & biodynamic Chardonnay grapes from family-owned organic vineyards as well as from expert grape growers of the Ukiah and Redwood Valleys. The 2008 organic vintage combines the rich flavors of these two terriors. Our long established relationship with these growers, many whose families have been farming in our area for multiple generations, ensure excellent wines year after year.
Long prized in Europe by the upper classes for their superior quality, both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay arrived in California in the mid 1800’s. Traditionally grown in cool areas similar to Burgundy, both are now widely planted due to their popularity and adaptability to different growing regions. Today California boasts the largest acreage of both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the United States, with a variety of styles to mirror our diverse landscapes and microclimates.
We hope you enjoy our versions of these two amazing wines, crafted with care from 100% organic fruits, with no sulfites, preservatives or other additives.
Frey Organic Chardonnay Vineyard, Potter Valley, Mendocino County, California.
This elegant chicken dish is easy to prepare and never fails to impress. It’s a versatile recipe that tastes delicious with potatoes, rice or pasta. Serves 4-6.
Organic Chardonnay Chicken in Tarragon Mushroom Sauce
4 organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp olive oil
1 T butter
1 large shallot, minced
17 fresh tarragon leaves
Salt and pepper
¾ cup Frey Organic Chardonnay wine
½ cup heavy cream
1 tsp arrowroot
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
Rinse the chicken, pat dry, and season with salt and pepper. Add the oil to a large skillet and cook the chicken over medium-high heat until golden brown on both sides (about 15 minutes). Remove chicken and set aside.
Next, lower heat to medium and add 1 tablespoon butter, the minced shallots and tarragon. Sauté, stirring frequently for about a minute. Add the sliced mushrooms and increase the heat to medium high, stirring occasionally until they appear medium to dark brown in color.
Push the mushrooms around the edge of the skillet and return the chicken to the center of the pan. Pour the wine over the chicken, and adjust heat to simmer lightly for 5-7 minutes, depending on thickness of chicken.
Meanwhile, mix the cream, arrowroot and mustard. Turn the chicken, pour the cream mixture into the pan and simmer lightly for another 5-7 minutes. Serve immediately.
This may be the most refreshing way to drink red organic wine during these hot, summer months, a favorite from Spain and Portugal. It’s a real crowd-pleaser, too -- so feel free to double or triple this easy recipe, as needed. Just keep in mind that once made, you’ll want to chill from 2 to 6 hours before serving. One bottle serves about 5.
1 bottle Frey Organic Natural Red wine
2 organic oranges (one sliced, one juiced)
1 organic lemon
3 T organic sugar
¼ cup Triple Sec
Wash fruit thoroughly. For each batch, slice the lemon and 1 of the oranges and place in your pitcher or jar. The sangria pictured here was made in a large canning jar. Sprinkle with the sugar, and mash into the fruit with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved. Add the juice of the second orange along with the Triple Sec. Then add the wine and stir.
Place in the refrigerator to chill. The longer it sits, the smoother it will taste. When ready, serve over ice and enjoy!
They say “a swarm in May is worth a bale of hay,” and working on the farm, I know the value of both! Last February I attended the Honey Bee Symposium at Sommerfield Waldorf School, where renowned Biodynamic beekeeper Gunter Hauk discussed the loving being that is the honey bee, with a panel of Northern California apiculturists. I left the event with a keen desire to build my own hive as a sanctuary for the honey bee. On my quest for a hive design I came across work being done internationally with the “top bar” model, which utilizes the bottom half of a hexagon (the shape the bees draw in wax) as the principle structure. Because of these dimensions the bees are able to draw honeycombs in perfect, heart-shaped arcs, as they would naturally do if they were not impeded by man’s engineering. My husband Daniel and I created two such hives using wax to seal cracks. We added features of which we hope the bees will be able to regulate themselves, such as really small ventilation holes that can be filled with propolis as needed.
Katrina and Marie, on their respective Melissa quests, have found a Biodynamic hive popularized in Germany that has similar aspects to a top bar hive, but with some fancy features added. Called the “one-room-hive” (in German: “Einraumbeute”), it includes such additions as a waxed cloth that can be kept over the hive while one works with the bees, to minimize the disruption of opening the hive. Additionally, these new models offer observation windows to watch the queen cells as they develop. (Knowing the mature cell dates are important in Biodynamic beekeeping, which allows the hive to swarm, as Hauk describes, for the joie de vivre the bees experience). Beveled frame edges, a special insulation layer, and dove-tailed carpentry make these hives a special gift to the bees.
In late May, Katrina and I journeyed down to a local organic beekeeper’s apiary in Healdsburg and collected our bees in the twilight. We brought all of our unconventional hives with us and shook the bees in, all 40,000 of them per hive. With a total of 4 hives in the back of the car, it was over 100,000 bees buzzing as we made our late night sojourn home. Suited up in full regalia, just in case, we unloaded our sweet vessels on the Frey Ranch under the midnight moonlight.
The next morning, at the break of dawn, our bees found their new foraging grounds on the ranch. Daniel’s bees got a little disoriented and decided to swarm. Luckily, they opted to settle into a nearby apple tree in our orchard. We were able to catch them again and put them back into their hive, after which we made some improvements on the design. Katrina’s bees decided to swarm too, and it was quite the climbing expedition to recover them high up in another tree. Katrina and Marie caught another swarm, and this one decided to make its home in a wine barrel. Now, at the beginning of July, all the hives are blissfully buzzing away, gathering sweet nectars from the summer garden blooms.