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The White House

We are honored that the White House featured our Ryo-fu Chardonnay at a recent State Dinner welcoming Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the United States. Reveal more

Akiko Freeman

LE.PAN: The small Sonoma winery with Asian ambitions; “We don’t manipulate anything. We just try to grow the best fruit and bring out the best of it. That’s our philosophy.” Reveal more

Freeman Vineyard picks up inspiration from Burgundy cover
Freeman Vineyard picks up inspiration from Burgundy

The vineyards at the Freeman Winery in Sebastopol, Calif. are seen on February 2nd, 2019.

Ken and Akiko Freeman started Freeman Vineyard and Winery in 2001 after being inspired by the fine wines of Burgundy.

With two estate vineyards, Gloria and Yu-ki, the Freemans devote themselves to cool- climate, coastal Pinot Noir, working with other sites within the Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley to produce five unique Pinots, as well as one Chardonnay from Hawk Hill Vineyard nearby. Everything is made in small quantities with the utmost attention.

Tokyo native Akiko makes the wines, having apprenticed alongside consulting winemaker Ed Kurtzman since the winery’s inception.

Ken has been actively involved in the West Sonoma Coast Vintners, which has applied for a new appellation to be formed, incorporating vineyards like his that lie within a certain proximity of the Pacific Ocean.

Visits ($30) are held in the wine caves and are by appointment from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. They’re private and intimate and, in addition to tasting the wines, visitors will have the chance to experience the Freeman’s small-lot winery and Gloria Vineyard next door.

WHAT TO TRY: The two estate Pinot Noirs are well worth trying side-by-side if possible. The Gloria is from a hillside spot once planted to apples that the Freemans named after its original owner. Yu-ki, from a high-elevation site above Occidental that is surrounded by redwoods, is spicy and sublime. Akiko’s Cuvée is a selection of the best barrels each year.

INSIDE INFO: From Freeman it would be a shame not to head just a tiny bit farther to Freestone’s Wild Flour Bread Bakery for brick-oven breads, scones, fougasse, flatbreads and sticky buns.

Freeman 2018 Yu-Ki Estate Pinot Noir
95 points.  & Cellar Section
A Wine Spectator Sonoma Pinot Noirs Favorite cover
Wine Enthusiast
Freeman 2018 Yu-Ki Estate Pinot Noir
95 points. & Cellar Section
A Wine Spectator Sonoma Pinot Noirs Favorite

Freeman 2018 Yu-Ki Estate Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast); $68, 95 points. Vibrant, focused and well balanced, this medium- to full-bodied wine offers brilliant aromas and complex flavors of ripe black cherries, violets, sour cherries and black tea. It offers a firm, elegant texture, with fresh acidity and fine-grained tannins. Enjoy through 2026. Cellar Selection. —Jim Gordon

We’re living in the midst of an embarrassment of riches when it comes to Pinot Noir in Sonoma. Throughout the county’s appellations, including Carneros, which has its foothold in parts of both Napa and Sonoma, the region has been blessed with a string of great vintages that are current on the market, stretching at the moment from the 2016 red wines through the 2019 rosés.

The quality of the 2017s in particular should be noted. While it was the first year California wasn’t in a yearlong drought, it saw dangerous heat spikes during harvest, followed by fires in October. Pinot was picked relatively early, hurried along by the heat—a result of smart decision making and hustle by experienced producers like Gary Farrell, Patz & Hall, La Crema, Flowers and Emeritus.

“The Pinot Noir bottlings shine because the fruit is so vibrant with incredibly lifted, fresh aromas,” said Gary Farrell Winemaker Theresa Heredia. “These sorts of qualities are unexpected from a very hot vintage like 2017, but we busted our ass to bring all the fruit in as quickly as possible before it began to dehydrate, which would have led to overripe qualities and jammy wines with flabby acidity.”

She started picking on the day of the total solar eclipse, August 21, 2017, bringing in only 6% of the harvest. A heat wave came around August 26, and over the next seven days, she harvested 53% of her total tons. Once she saw a severe heat wave on the horizon, she called all her growers to schedule picks of any grapes that were even remotely ready.

Because of this quick harvest period, she and others were able to capture flavors that are bright and lifted, with aromas that are fresh and energetic.


Akiko's Recipe as featured on Better Magazine! cover
Akiko's Recipe as featured on Better Magazine!

Sweet Pea and Fennel Soup

Freeman Vineyard & Winery, Sebastopol


2 tbsp butter
1 tbsps
olive oil
2 medium to large fennel bulbs, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
5 cups chicken stock
20 oz sweet peas (If it’s not season, frozen peas works great for this)
Salt and pepper
Heavy cream (optional)


Serves 4-6

1. Melt butter on a large pot, add olive oil when butter is melted. Add onion and fennel — cook stirring occasionally until softened about 15 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste as you cook.

2. Add chicken broth and peas. Cook over medium heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer, partially covered, and cook for another 15 minutes.

3. Cool the soup and puree in batches in a blender or food processor until completely smooth. Add about ¼ cup cream if you like to finish.

4. Check the taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

5. If you are serving the soup cold, cover and chill it in refrigerator at least 6 hours.

If you like an onion flavor, top with chopped chives. You can also add chopped tomato if you like. If the soup is too thick, add more chicken stock later. This soup is very forgiving.

Chef’s tip: Pairing with Freeman Winery Yu-Ki Estate Pinot Noir or Ryo-fu Chardonnay

The BEST winery in Sonoma County! cover
The BEST winery in Sonoma County!

Have you always wanted to visit the wine region of Northern California but didn't know where to start? Napa? Calistoga? Sonoma? Where do you start?  There are a lot of regions, wineries and restaurants to visit and it can be VERY overwhelming not to mention a lot of miles to cover in what could be a short trip. Most of us go out for a long weekend with friends to celebrate a birthday, enjoy harvest season or just want to drink some really good wine! A lot of the top/well known wineries are invite only and/or require advance notice and reservations. They are hard to find unless you know exactly what you are looking for. Some of the BEST wines in Sonoma County are barely on the map.  This can be challenging as once you arrive to the winery you'll find you are in the middle of nowhere and now need to drive miles to find a good spot for lunch. I PROMISE if you start at Freeman Winery you'll be VERY pleased and will DEFINITELY be spreading the good word to ALL of your friends for a future visit!...


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