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.
After 30 years of organic grape growing we are continually interested in diversifying our farm or bringing back lost traditions. A century ago, Mendocino County grew all of its grain, and we’re experimenting with bringing local grain production back! Much of the prime grain lands of the county have been converted to vineyards, but we are now demonstrating that grapes and grains can be grown together.
Organic wheat growing in Frey organic vineyard.
Frey Vineyards is collaborating with the Mendocino Grain Project and a handful of local vineyards and small farms to bring the tradition of grain growing back to Mendocino County. Together with the Grain Project we have purchased a small combine that can fit between vineyard rows to harvest grains and dry beans. In the fall of 2009 we inter-planted a variety of wheat, oats, barley and rye in every third row of selected organic vineyards. The combine ran through our vineyards in late July and we reaped several bushels of fresh grains. This year didn’t bring huge yields, but we identified the most productive sections of our vineyards and will fine-tune planting and cultivation practices to increase productivity in the years to come. This is an exciting project that is moving us closer to our goal of increasing local food production and rethinking what vineyards are capable of.
Doug Mosel of Mendocino Grain Project driving the mini-combine.
Wheat between the vines.
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!)
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.
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!
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.
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