by Fred McMillin
for February 5, 1997
Last Rites for Sulfites
Prologue: Most winemakers add sulfites to help preserve their wines. Without the additive, there is a greater risk that the wine will change color, lose flavor and spoil.
The Rest of The Story: So it's risky business to make wine without sulfites but the Frey (pronounced "fry") Winery knows a thing or two about sanitation. Founder/owners Paul and Marguerite Frey are both physicians. They keep the bacteria on the run by steam- cleaning their stainless steel fermentation tanks, using only flawlessly healthy, high-acid grapes, etc. Fine, but does this really reduce sulfite levels, since sulfites occur naturally in wine and many foods (egg white test showed six parts per million)? Well, your typical wine will contain 25 to 150 ppm sulfites.
In contrast, the last three vintages of Frey Cabernet Sauvignon have shown 0 ppm, 1 ppm, and 0 ppm. CASE CLOSED.
1992 Cabernet Sauvignon, Redwood Valley, Mendocino County
Postscript: How can a family-operated winery conduct labor-intensive organic winemaking? That's easy. The Freys have TWELVE children, now grown, most of whom make the 25,000 case operation hum.
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