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Mendocino County



"Wine Mic Monday" is a VAULT29 series based on an "open mic concept" where wineries take over our blog...because every glass and bottle of wine has a story. Last week, we revisited four wine brands and what they've learned and how they've grown in "Building of a Wine Brand" Season 2, part 2. This week in Season 2, part 3, we look back at wineries and their approach to winemaking. Get to know Cuvaison & Brandlin -- two Napa Green estates. DRNK uses state-ofthe-art technology (UAV's) to image vineyard sites. and Frey Vineyards focuses on producing high quality organic and biodynamic wines without adding synthetic chemicals or preservatives. 

For many years, Cuvaison, located in the Carneros AVA,  has been regarded as an iconic winery and brand in Napa Valley, consistently producing beautifully balanced Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  In 1998, Cuvaison purchased a historic Mount Veeder property owned by Chester Brandlin. Located on a 1,200 foot ridgeline – this is one of Napa Valley’s most difficult but acclaimed mountain regions for grape growing. Both estate vineyards, Carneros and Brandlin, are certified Napa Green, meaning the company has been recognized for their work in reducing the impact on the environment. Read more here.


Get to know DRNK and their aerial imagery approch to winemaking! Grapegrowers and winemakers have been experimenting with grapegrowing and winemaking practices for millennia, this is not something that’s going to change; the technology DRNK uses for experimentation does, and constantly. Ryan Kunde has been experimenting and using UAVs to image vineyards and orchards for 5 years now. He was initially inspired to do so by listening to other inventors and their experiences with the technology and to my professors at Davis and their experiences in research and learning about the most important factors that affect wine quality over time. Read more here.


Frey Vineyards is America’s Pioneering Organic Winery. Founded in 1980, we have always been family owned and operated and it is our mission to produce highest quality organic and Biodynamicwines without the addition of synthetic chemicals or preservatives while fostering environmental stewardship and social equity. Our vineyards are located at the headwaters of the Russian River in beautiful Mendocino County in Northern California.  As three generations of organic farmers and winemakers, we find that our care and respect for the earth is reflected in the expression of purity and true terroir in our wines. Read more here.

You can find Cuvaison, Brandlin, DRNK & Frey wine experience in our app! Smply search by winery name! We'd love to see experiences from your perspective too!. #GetV29app

Dynamic Duos

Dynamic Duos

Wine Mic Monday: Dynamic Duos

In Season 2's Recap #1, we take a look back at husband and wife duos. All four couples followed their passions and let curiosity guide them, which ultimately lead to chasing wine dreams. From fateful trips in Europe, to specific winemaking techniques and beliefs, these four stories highlight wine and it's ability to influence lives, inspire, and create incredible pieces of art with each vintage.

Amplify: what we love about this piece is how Cameron so carefully and perfectly articulates what wine is to him. To Cam, wine is so much more than the traditional rules and the places in which the grapes grow. To take ones undying passion, translate into a profoundly personal expression of art, and inspire conversation is what makes wine the most meaningful. Read more here.


Waits-Mast: We love this story because wine has the power to really capture curiosity. For some, we casually drink with family and friends and create a lifetime of memories with wine as the backdrop. For others, like Jennifer and Brian, it's all about the details. Read more here.


Caliza: The theme in this story is a true, unwavering commitment to winemaking. Carl and Pam see this firsthand with their fateful trip to Italy after 9/11, and dedicate years of education and preparing the land until the timing was right and the wines were exactly aligned with "sense of place." Read more here.


Kukkula: Paula says her husband Kevin doesn't know the meaning of a small hobby - and their wine journey is proof! From Beaucastel, France to the rolling hills in Paso Robles, Kevin shares their winemaking adventure! Read more here.

Frey Vineyards

Frey Vineyards

Frey Vineyards is America’s Pioneering Organic Winery. Founded in 1980, we have always been family owned and operated and it is our mission to produce highest quality organic and Biodynamic wines without the addition of synthetic chemicals or preservatives while fostering environmental stewardship and social equity. Our vineyards are located at the headwaters of the Russian River in beautiful Mendocino County in Northern California.  As three generations of organic farmers and winemakers, we find that our care and respect for the earth is reflected in the expression of purity and true terroir in our wines.

Drs. Paul and Beba Frey moved to Redwood Valley in 1962 to raise their growing family and live closer to the land. They had twelve children who were put to work on the farm. The first vineyards were planted in the early 1970s when grape cultivation was expanding with the growth of the California wine industry. For the first few years the family sold the grapes, but in 1980 Jonathan Frey and his brothers and wife started making wine. Jonathan and Katrina had just returned to Redwood Valley after an organic gardening apprenticeship and were deeply committed to chemical-free agriculture and food production. The choice to make wines without added sulfites was a philosophical one and has guided the vision and mission of the business ever since.

Pouring of Frey Wines | VUALT29

Frey Vineyards is an innovator in organic and non-sulfited wines and our winemakers have been self-taught and passionate about preservative-free winemaking. We let the distinctive character of each of our wines shine, without adding synthetic sulfites as a preservative. Our innovative winemaking techniques and minimal manipulation allow the natural fermentation process to occur without chemical additives. The authentic flavors of the wine are showcased for the enjoyment of all wine-lovers, including those with sulfite sensitivities.  We use only bentonite clay, a natural earth clay, as a fining agent, and we ferment in stainless steel without the risk of cross-contamination with wheat paste in barrels, making our wines suitable for people who are vegan or gluten intolerant.  All of our organic wines are fermented on non-GMO certified organic yeast.  Our Biodynamic portfolio is fermented with only the native yeast occurring naturally on the grape skins, allowing the terroir of each site and vintage to come through.

Our Biodynamic wines offer a taste of intensive organic farming practices and estate-grown grapes.  Biodynamic farming views nature as an interconnected whole, and as stewards of our land we work to integrate crops, farm animals, and soil health into a self-regulating and self-renewing ecosystem. Developed in the 1920’s by Rudolf Steiner as a response to the pesticide-laden factory farming methods of the time, Biodynamic farming accomplishes a holistic approach to caring for the land without the use of toxic chemicals. In our current era of climate change and water-use challenges, we see Biodynamic farming as a resilient and adaptive agriculture for the future.  Some of the methods we employ to craft our Demeter-certified Biodynamic wines are:

  • ,Pasturing our goats, cows, and chickens through the vineyards to feast on cover crops and manage pest populations
  • Setting aside 750 of our 1,000 acres for forest wildlife and biodiversity
  • Making the nine required Biodynamic preparations onsite and applying them to our vines and soils in diluted amounts to promote photosynthesis, stimulate root growth, and enliven soils

Today’s wine market has lots of wines made from organically grown grapes, but we don’t stop halfway with the grape growing.

We are both grower and processor of certified organic which allows us to use the USDA organic seal and the term “Organic Wine” on our labels.
— Frey Vineyards

 Wines made from organic fruit that are not processor-certified are restricted to use the term “Made with Organically Grown Grapes.” For consumers seeking a 100 percent, start-to-finish certified organic wine it is important to recognize this distinction and seek out processor-certified organic wines with the USDA Organic seal.  Into the future, we want to continue providing delicious and natural wines for people looking for organic beverage options. We are firmly grounded in our commitment to organic growing and processing practices, and to live and produce as sustainably as possible with the land we are blessed to cultivate and protect. We will continue to offer customers fabulous organic wines while enhancing the health of our farm and communities.

Frey Vineyards’ award winning wines can be found across the country in fine wine shops and grocery stores. We are carried in Whole Foods stores across the country. We ship direct to consumers in most states, and we have a fun wine club with great discounts and many yearly events.  We have two tasting room locations:

Frey Vineyards Tasting Room | VAULT29

For more information visit or call us at 1.800.760-3739.

We'd love to see your Frey wine experiences in the VAULT29 app! Use hashtag #FreyWines! 



From wine nerds to winemakers - how we ventured into the world of winemaking 

By Jennifer Waits, Co-Owner, Waits-Mast Family Cellars

Waits=Mast Family Cellars wners | VAULT29

When my husband and I embarked on the process of making our first barrel of wine nearly 10 years ago, we had no idea what we were in for. It started as a bit of a lark, but really an opportunity to learn more about wine (which we love) and to try our hand at crafting a wine from one of our favorite grapes (Pinot Noir). We had plenty of ideas and when Brian met with our first winemaker, they spent hours discussing the type of Pinot Noir that we’d like to make.

That first barrel of Waits-Mast Family Cellars wine (a 2005 Pinot Noir from Amber Ridge Vineyard in Russian River) far exceeded our expectations and lured us into making more wine the following year. We’d already been wine nerds, having attended the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival’s Technical conference starting in around 2000. Far out of our league, we’d fuel up on coffee and take copious notes while listening to scientists delve into serious grape growing and wine making topics related to soil, disease, grape clones, and the intricacies of the wine making process.

Back in 2000, we didn’t have much context for all of this information that we were taking in at the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival’s Technical conference, but we listened attentively and supplemented those kernels of wisdom with other outside research. We started to read more books and articles about wine - from technical to historical - and also began asking different types of questions when we were out wine tasting. We started to become those people asking: "what's your oak program" or "can you tell us the Brix and pH at harvest?"

As wine newbies, I vividly remember being at our first winemaking facility back in 2005 and laughing to myself when someone asked for the name of the forest in France that a particular barrel was from. At the time I couldn’t imagine why anyone would care about that level of detail.

Flash forward to 2015 and after 10 years of winemaking I realize that we think about far more details than we ever could have imagined when we first started. Although we may dabble in different forests, we do put serious consideration into the types of barrels that we use, from the manufacturer, to the degree of toast, to the percentage of new vs. older barrels that we use for each vintage.

Barrels are just a small part of the whole process, and we have also spent a lot of time thinking about pick dates, working in the winery to craft the perfect blend that highlights the terroir of each site, and even have debates about the color of foil to use for each bottle of wine. We are faced with countless decisions throughout the wine making process and hopefully everything coalesces in order to help us realize our vision of making delicious vineyard-designate Pinot Noir that represents the diversity of sites in Mendocino County.

We'd love to see your Waits-Mast Family Cellars wine experiences in the VAULT29 app. Use hashtags #WaitsMast