Last month a bear was spotted almost daily for a few weeks as it grazed fresh grass in our organic vineyards. Normally they shun the lowlands of our valley with its dogs and people, preferring the high forests nearby. But in the aftermath of the Redwood Valley Fire last November, which wiped out whole communities near our vineyards, this old American black bear (they also come in cinnamon brown) was keen to explore newly opened territory, and perhaps driven by hunger as well. It has since moved on.
Click on a photo for a larger, screensaver image.
Following the wildfire last October, the rain and green grass quickly blanketed the lands with soothing vigor. This intrepid Great Blue Heron is lately making the rounds, hunting for frogs, insects and rodents among the new growth by our organic Syrah vines. These majestic birds, the third-largest herons on earth, usually find their meals by ponds and rivers. This one is broadening its culinary preferences by flushing out wild little edibles in the vineyards, far from the waterways.
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound baby bella (or crimini) mushrooms, minced
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup Frey Biodynamic Sauvignon Blanc wine
1/2 cup full fat Greek yogurt
1/3 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
2 sheets thawed puff pastry
We would like to share an update on Frey Vineyards. All of our family members and winery staff are safe.
Our beautifully rustic office buildings, tasting room, and bottling line have burned, but the main house and the insulated warehouse holding our case goods are unscathed. Our stainless steel wine tanks and the majority of the crush pad are also fine. Although vineyards typically don’t burn, with the intensity of this firestorm we did lose about 10% of our estate vineyards along the peripheries of the ranch. In addition to the home ranch, we have 300 acres of satellite vineyards scattered throughout Redwood Valley and Potter Valley that are in great shape.
Fortunately, we broke ground two months ago for our new winery site on West Rd in Redwood Valley, and this land is untouched. We are mourning the loss of many of our grand oak trees that provided summer shade and a diverse wildlife habitat, but at the same time we are grateful that healthy stands of oaks are thriving at our new location.
We would like to extend a huge thank you to our long-time friends at Barra, Fetzer, and Parducci wineries who have offered their certified organic facilities for temporary offsite winemaking. This is an invaluable help. We are looking forward to being able to bottle more wine soon with the help of a mobile bottling line arriving in the first part of November. You’ll be happy to know that we’ll be able to fill the Frey wine pipeline before the holidays.
The Redwood Complex Fire is 100% contained, especially with the help of a soothing rain last Thursday. We have deep gratitude for the teams of first responders who worked tirelessly to suppress the fire and keep all of us safe. Our hearts go out to our many, many friends and neighbors who lost their homes in this crisis. In the last weeks we have seen a tremendous outpouring of support from our local community and beyond for everyone affected by the fire. To help, please donate to the Disaster Fund for Mendocino County.
While the winery has been described in the media over the past week as “demolished”, we feel that this term doesn’t apply to our resilient spirit to rebuild. We are so grateful to live in a rugged back-to-the-land community that supports each other and has a collective power for renewal.
We are profoundly saddened by the loss of life that has occurred and the destructive force that fire can wield. Juxtaposed against a scorched aftermath, we also recognize the essential role of fire in the Biodynamic cycle. As one of the four elements, along with earth, air, and water, it demands our respect for its regenerative powers. We are heartened to hear the consoling words of a friend whose farm withstood a devastating wildfire two years ago. She said that the following spring was the most beautiful display of wildflowers on their property that she had ever seen. We’re looking forward to spring at Frey Vineyards.
A homemade flaky pie crust with creamy ricotta cheese and ripe heirloom tomatoes. Perfect during tomato season, and with a glass of Frey Organic Sangiovese.
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup ice water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound heirloom tomatoes
1 pound whole milk ricotta cheese
1 clove garlic, sliced thin
Fresh chives and basil, garnish
Coarse salt and pepper
Crust: Start the crust by stirring together the flour and salt and then cut in the cubed cold butter until pea-sized pieces. Mix in the ice water by the tablespoon. The dough should be a bit shaggy. If you press it together it should stick, but just barely.
Scoop the dough out onto a clean surface and fold it over itself a few times to form a loose ball. Wrap it tightly in plastic and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. You know you did it right if you can see chunks of butter in the dough.
Filling: The most important part of this recipe is to salt and drain the tomatoes of any extra liquid. Slice the tomatoes and line a colander with them. Then sprinkle them with salt and let them rest for about 10-15 minutes.
When you’re ready to make the tart, roll your dough out into about a 14-inch round. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Then drizzle the dough with olive oil and spread the ricotta cheese. Leave about a 2-inch border around the edges so you can fold the dough over later. Add some slivered garlic to the cheese and top with tomatoes. Carefully fold the dough edges over the top and sprinkle it with a little salt and pepper and put it in the oven!
Bake the tart at 400 degrees F. for about 50 minutes. Rotate it once halfway through to make sure it’s cooking evenly.
After out of the oven let the tart rest for about 10 minutes to allow the filling to set up. Sprinkle chopped chives and basil on top and serve with a glass of Frey Organic Sangiovese.
Use fresh heirloom tomatoes in season, if possible.
Fresh basil, garlic, and chives.
Tomatoes ready for topping.
Ready to roll!
Ricotta cheese spread on the dough, then the garlic...
...and tomatoes on top. Ready for the oven.
The eyes get the first bite!
These delicious, flaky, chewy, sweet fig bars are nothing like the store bought cookies. These are easy to make and a perfect treat when paired with Frey Organic Pinot Noir.
3 cups organic almond flour
4 tbsp organic unrefined coconut oil, melted
4 tbsp raw honey
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup fresh organic figs
2 tbsp organic apple or lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine all biscuit dough ingredients in your food processor until it begins to stick together and forms into a ball. In a bowl, put the ball of dough in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
Place figs in your food processor and finely chop. Add in other filling ingredients and blend to a paste. Set aside until ready to assemble fig rolls.
Divide dough in four and roll each between two pieces of parchment paper.
You want each bout 1/2 an inch thick, rectangular in shape, approx. 10 x 4 inches. Leave the dough lying on the parchment paper.
Divide the fig filling into four and place each along the inside edge of each rectangle of biscuit dough. Leave a little gap of the biscuit dough, ¼ inch, on the inner side. Spread the filling evenly length-wise and thickness-wise as much as possible. See photo.
Fold over topside of the roll by lifting up the parchment paper. Seal the edge tight. Remove parchment, slice each roll into 6-10 fig rolls.
Place on a non-stick baking tray lightly greased with coconut oil. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.
Allow cooling for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool fully. Serve with a glass of Frey Organic Pinot Noir.
Fresh spring rolls should offer a pleasing contrast in texture (soft wrapper, chewy noodles, and crunchy vegetables) and flavors (fresh mint, basil, and cilantro; peanuts, spicy chilies, and salty sauce) which will pair perfectly with a cold glass of our Organic Pinot Grigio. Try to source organic ingredients for the health of farmworkers, your own health, and for future generations.
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
1 large cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into matchsticks
½ cup chopped green onion
½ cup fresh basil and/or mint leaves torn into ½ inch pieces
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup lettuce leaves chopped
2 cups cooked rice noodles
8 (8-inch) round brown rice paper wrappers
Peanut Sauce Ingredients and Recipe
¼ cup creamy organic peanut butter
1 tsp Asian chili-garlic sauce
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
Cream together peanut butter and brown sugar, then add vinegar, chili-garlic sauce and soy sauce. Blend together to make a rich & creamy peanut sauce perfect for dipping in your Spring Rolls.
1. Prepare all ingredients in individual bowls.
2. Spread clean, damp dishtowel on counter. Fill 9 inch pie plate with 1 inch of room-temperature water. Submerge each wrapper in water until just pliable, about 2 minutes. Lay softened wrapper on towel. Scatter about 4 basil leaves, 4 mint leaves and 6 cilantro leaves over wrapper. Arrange 5 cumber sticks horizontally on wrapper, leaving 2 inch boarder at bottom. Top with carrots, lettuce leaves, green onion, and about 2 tbsp noodles. Fold bottom of wrapper up over filling. Fold sides of wrapper over filling and then roll wrapper up into tight spring roll.
3. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. Serve immediately with peanut dipping sauce and a glass of Frey Organic Pinot Grigio.
This tofu has a wonderfully soft, silky texture that contrasts nicely with the crisp, sweet and spicy Asian style grilled glaze. Enjoy this tasty meal with friends, family, and a bottle or two of Frey red wine. Cheers!
5 cups water
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons Asian Chili-garlic sauce
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup mirin
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon Asian chili-garlic sauce
28 ounces firm tofu, sliced lengthwise into 1 inch think planks
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
¼ cup minced fresh cilantro
1. For the Marinade: bring water to a boil, add soy sauce and chili garlic sauce, turn off heat and add tofu. Allow tofu to marinate for 20 minutes.
2. For the Glaze: simmer the soy sauce, water, sugar, mirin, ginger, garlic, cornstarch, and chili-garlic sauce in small saucepan over medium-high heat until thickened and reduced to ¾ cups, for 5-7 minutes.
3. For the tofu: Drain tofu from marinade and spread over paper towel-lined baking sheet, let drain for 20 minutes, then gently press dry with paper towels. Brush tofu with oil and season with salt and paper
4. For the Grill: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave all burners on high.
Clean and oil cooking grate. Gently place tofu on grill, perpendicular to grate bars. Cook until lightly browned on both sides, 6-10 minutes. Gently flip tofu halfway through cooking using 2 spatulas. Next, turn all burners to medium and brush tofu with glaze and cook until well browned, 1-2 minutes. Flip tofu, brush with glaze and cook until well browned. Transfer tofu to platter, brush with remaining ¼ cup glaze, and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with Asian coleslaw and a glass of Frey organic Sangiovese or Zinfandel. Enjoy!
Here at Frey Vineyards we are longtime eclipse-chasers. Our penchant for gazing upward was instilled at an early age by Paul Frey Sr. Two of his twelve children, Jonathan and Paul Frey, studied physics and astrophysics at University of California Santa Cruz and went on to become winemakers for the winery. Jonathan and his wife Katrina traveled with brother Nathan Frey to Baja in 1990 to see their first total solar eclipse. At high noon, as the sky began to darken, they stood on a hillside looking down at a Mexican family farm. Chickens flew up to their roosts in the trees and the cows turned around and headed to their beds in the barn and the glory of the eclipse began.
Katrina and Jonathan’s most recent eclipse trip was on a Sky and Telescope cruise to Indonesia to see the 2016 solar eclipse over the Indian Ocean. On board they met Polly White and Michael Zeiler of The Great American Eclipse, who were getting fellow travelers excited about the August 21st, 2017 eclipse that will streak coast to coast across North America. One day on the deck of the ship, Polly and Katrina hatched a plan to craft an exclusive wine to honor this extraordinary event.
What started out as just one wine quickly become three when the opportunity arose to debut Frey Vineyard’s first-ever organic non-sulfited sparkling wine. On a previous eclipse journey to Mongolia in 2008 Katrina and Jonathan met fellow eclipse-chaser Dr. Lobster. We called upon him for inspiration for the back label texts. Frey label designer Nicole Paisley Martensen culled vintage engravings from old astronomy books, and furthered her research with excellent resources from eclipse authority Fred Espenak.
We are proud to bring you Umbra Organic Zinfandel, Umbra Organic Chardonnay, and Totality, our first organic sparkling wine. We’re looking forward to toasting the cosmos on August 21st!
“Umbra” is the dark inner shadow of the moon.
“Totality” is the period of a solar eclipse when the moon completely covers the sun.
For more information on the best places to view the August 21st, 2017 eclipse and to order eclipse-viewing glasses that make it safe for viewing the partial phases of this grand spectacle, log on to The Great American Eclipse.
(Written by Carolyn Brown, landscaper and gardener at Frey Vineyards.)
In 1924 Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Bio Dynamic Agriculture, discussed in his Agriculture Lectures how we must view the soil as being alive and full of life-giving forces. Also, how a living soil is akin to a plant and how plants themselves are an extension of the soil. This vitality is passed on to us through the energy contained in foods grown from healthy, living soils. That wellspring of life energy is not to be found in soils that have plant nutrients applied in a synthetic, chemical form. Steiner also stressed the importance of making a farm so self contained that it becomes self sustaining; its soil’s fertility is generated, conserved and recycled and the farm becomes its own entity. Creating and applying compost made from spent plants, cover crops and animal manure produced on site is the best way to realize this. The farm’s soil fertility becomes individualized to the land. How different this is from relying on importing soil amendments from different regions or even from different countries.
Current scientific research is discovering how very complex the living soil is. There is a complex relationship between soil mycorrhizae – bacteria and fungi – and the plant kingdom. Plants produce sugars through photosynthesis. These sugars are exuded from plants’ roots into the surrounding soil, which feeds the soil fungi and bacteria. In turn, these soil borne microorganisms help dissolve minerals and nutrients essential for plant growth and make them available in a form that plants can use. The end result is that we get food which is much richer in vitamins and minerals than vegetables grown with synthetic fertilizers. These microorganisms also allow plants to communicate with one and another! Mycorrhizae form a giant underground web connecting plants together. Plants that are being attacked by harmful insect pests pass the word on to other plants, which may protect themselves by making bad tasting chemicals, or chemicals that mimic predatory insect pheromones. These pheromones draw the plant allies into the farm or garden and they keep the bad bugs in check. What a great system! Bio Dynamics means “life engenders life” and healthy living soil creats vibrant, healthy ecosystems and people – a wonderful testimony to this way of farming.