Pressing Grapes at America’s Oldest Organic Winery

Gondola unload

The rains came twice in early October, disrupting the harvest. Even so, the Frey family is remarkably calm.  After thirty years of farming, they know how to adapt to nature’s variables. Last year was the shortest season ever, between early rains and early frost. Now the family and a handful of interns and helpers are working around the clock to bring in the harvest and transform it to sulfite-free organic wine. Here is a photo collage of the process.

Biodynamic Preparation 501

Early one morning, I saw Daniel Frey driving the golf cart he uses on the ranch. He was pulling a spray rig. All of a sudden, I realized he was about to spray a BD prep over the grapes!  When he got to the end of a row, he stopped a moment and we had time to talk.

He told me how much he loved the whole ritual of making and applying the preparations. He got up before dawn to grind granite into a powder finer than flour. Then he put a small amount in a 55-gallon tank of water and stirred it in a special pattern to enhance the vitality. First he stirred and stirred until he created a vortex in the water, then he broke the vortex by stirring in the opposite direction. This procedure went on for an hour. He chants or tones a note going up an octave and then when the vortex is broken, reversing the tone and going down.

The prep had been buried in the ground in a cow’s horn all summer.   I asked if it was true that BD Preparations work on the same principle as homeopathic remedies—using an amount so small that it is sub-molecular and works on a vibrational level. He agreed, and said the essence is so fine that the spray need not get on all the grapes, every sixth row was enough to stimulate the whole population of grapes.  He then told me that he uses the golf cart because the plant spirits prefer the quiet.