We are thrilled to have completed the 2011 pressing of our Frey Ranch sunflower and grape seed oils, a part of our ongoing experimentation in local food production. After the red wine fermentation the grape seed was separated from the pomace, sun dried, then pressed. The grape seed oil is deep and complex with a distinct grapey flavor. The sunflowers grew quickly over the summer months and were easy to harvest with our mini-combine, which also harvests the grain crops from the vineyards. The fresh-pressed sunflower oil is new for us and a delicacy, with a rich, nutty aroma. Both are delicious oils for salads or drizzled over roasted veggies. Our seed-oil press is made in Germany and can accommodate a wide range of seeds, from grape to sesame. So far we have only experimented with grape seed and sunflower seed but we look forward to testing more oils in the future, as well as offering some of these oils, and the grains, to our customers. Stay tuned!
Grape seeds ready for pressing!
The beekeepers at Frey vineyards have collaborated the past several years to create a habitat specifically for bees. This past spring, Luke Frey helped install a bee border to support the pollinators of our locality, and now this hedgerow has come into full bloom. Master gardener Kate Frey helped choose plants that would be beneficial to the bees by having a late-summer onset of blossoms and a drought tolerance for our California clime. Every day I see the bees taking full advantage of the precious August nectars, and I'm looking forward to the future of this perennial garden space.
Preparing the bee hedgerowLuke Frey preparing the bare land for the bee border.
Plants for the bee borderPlants in the pots, ready for planting in the bee border.
Bee plants are plantedThe bee hedgerow takes root.
Bee border in full bloomThe hegerow this August, with the plants in bloom, offering sweet flowers for the bees.
A good time was had by all at our recent Wine Club dinner, with around 50 guests who enjoyed sumptuous organic cuisine by Chef Tamara Frey and other collaborators of the culinary arts. Below are some photos of the event we'd like to share with you. We hope you can make it to our next dinner and celebration of organic food and wine (to be announced).
Dinner organizers extraordinaires, Nicole & Katrina.
Guests relaxing in front of the winery, under the oaks.
Guests take a tour of the wine sensory garden, a place to match wines with freshly picked herbs.
Tables set, menus laid out, salivating commences.
Young maidens serve the guests.
Freshly baked organic bread from the outdoor oven made by Matthew Frey.
A good time had by all.
American music icon Willie Nelson recently received the 2011 Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance Visionary Award in San Francisco. Sponsored by environmental nonprofits Amazon Watch and Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance, the event focused on how living local can have a positive effect on people around the world.
Frey Biodynamic Wines were proudly donated to this event.
Demand for organic food is ever growing, as confirmed by another poll. This is always good news as organic food production is better for everyone's health, and for the planet, in so many ways.
As summarized from ThePacker.com: "...A majority of Americans pick organically produced foods over conventionally produced when given the choice, according to a new poll... Among the reasons for choosing organic, survey participants cited supporting local growers and health concerns..."
Winemaker and vegetarian Paul Frey and his sons planting organic watermelons in vineyard.
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.
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