Monday, June 29, 2009

Sustainable Wines - Frei Brothers

A little while ago I sent our a request on ProfNet, the PR Newswire journalist informational request service, for any wineries that would like to talk to me about sustainable practices. I got a few responses, but one that stuck out to me as one of the most interesting were the Frei Brothers.

In one of the documents that the Frei Brothers' PR representative sent me the first line was this:

Frei Brothers is driven by the overriding principle to conduct business in a manner that will protect and preserve the environment."

The document went on to list how many animal shelters and homes are on the winery's land, how they not only meet, but exceed government regulations, that for every acre of land planted to vine they set aside one acre of land to protect the natural environment in which indigenous animals live.

As I said before, I think sustainable farmers and organic farmers are a breed unto themselves.

However, to get on their website ( I had to actually scroll to find my birth year on the landing page. That made me feel a little old.

But the wines were fresh and youthful. I tasted their Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 and the Reserve Chardonnay 2006. The Chardonnay was oaked, but balanced, and showed wonderful pears and apples on the nose and taste. The Cabernet was rustic, a little dirty, but very pleasing. Dark fruits of plum and cassis came through, enhanced by an overall earthiness. The Cabernet grapes came from the Alexander Valley and the Chardonnay grapes came from the Russian River Valley, both within Sonoma.

Both very tasty and well worth finding!

I sent Jim Collins, the Chief Viticulturist for Frei Brothers a few questions and below is his response:

RB - Could you please delineate the practices that make Frei Brothers sustainable?

JC - Sustainability forces you to make choices across a wide range of issues from decisions as simple to use or not use chemicals to more complex decisions like determining the role of fuel standards for the tractors that you buy and use. Sustainability is a big umbrella. Organic and biodynamic practices fit under the umbrella and can be easily defined. Sustainability goes even further and, in fact, is harder to commit to than being organic or biodynamic. We make choices that take into consideration our overall carbon footprint, and try to close the loop on all processes. When we buy steel for the vineyards, we buy recycled rail steel, instead of the cheaper imported steel. We try to take fewer passes in the vineyard, conserve water, reduce waste and energy usage and maintain good cover crops…carpool when we can, etc. We are very connected with the community and always keep the “big picture” in mind – we all live here and want to keep our home vibrant!

RB - What made you decide to create wines using sustainable practices?

JC - In a family-owned company, it is very important to ensure that the needs of future generations are not compromised. The Frei Brothers vineyards have been farmed since the 1890s; it is our tradition to take care of the land and honor its heritage. Not to mention, it is the right thing to do…better for the earth and the wines.

RB - How old are the vines? How long has the winery been in operation?

JC - The vines range in age from 20-years-old to newly planted, but the vineyards have been farmed for 119 years.

RB - How large is the winery's production? How many cases a year on average?

JC - We produce and sell approximately 200,000 cases a year.

RB - With all of the great areas to make wine in the world, why choose California?

JC - Why California? Because it is home to Sonoma County, which is one of the most unique places to grow grapes. There are over 41 different microclimates within Sonoma County – its diversity and its terroir is truly unique.

Copyright 2009 Wine Post: Wine & Spirits Blog. Powered by Blogger Blogger Templates create by Deluxe Templates. WP by Masterplan