Mendocino County boasts the largest acreage of certified organic vineyards in the United States, with many dedicated farmers doing things the “old right way.”
The history of organic grape growing in the county can be traced to the early Italian immigrants who first planted grapes there in the late 1800s. Before the introduction of agricultural chemicals following World War I, all grape growing and food production was, in essence, organic. Many of the early grape-growing families resisted the pressures to accept modern chemicals in favor of their traditional “organic” methods.
The myriad chemicals approved for use on grapes are not only expensive, but can be hazardous to the health of those working in the vineyards, as well as those living around them and downstream.
Frey Vineyards, along with a handful of other family-owned vineyards in Mendocino County, joined the California Certified Organic Farmers organization in 1980. From those vineyards, Frey winery crafted the first wines in the United States to be made from certified organic grapes.
Many of these pioneering certified organic vineyards still produce fruit that is used in Frey wines today. As of a few years ago, grapes from more than 30 certified organic grape growers were being utilized to make 12 varieties of Frey organic wine.
Over the years, Frey Vineyards has assisted many of these growers through the process of certification, helping to increase the total organic vineyard acreage in Mendocino County to more than 3,500 acres.