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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 Wines Featured in UK's Harpers Wine & Spirit:
New West Sonoma Coast AVA to highlight ‘best Pinot Noir’ in USA
Harpers Wine & Spirit
Freeman Wines Featured in UK's Harpers Wine & Spirit:
New West Sonoma Coast AVA to highlight ‘best Pinot Noir’ in USA

By Andrew Catchpole

With the official rubber-stamping of a new West Sonoma Coast AVA just weeks away, its vintners have been in London promoting what they describe as “California’s Cote d’Or”.

The new AVA currently includes 23 wineries spread over three coastal ridges to the west of Russian River, with around 1,000 collective acres primarily planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in elevated, cool climate sites.

The reference to Burgundy’s ‘golden slopes’, where many of the most famous names in France are concentrated, was intended to emphasise the focus on terroir and small production shared by the producers that have been drawn to this marginal viticultural region.

“This is, in theory, where the best Pinot Noir and to a degree Chardonnay comes from in the US – and as [the vineyards] need to be at a certain height on ridges, most of the area that can be planted is planted – it’s tough, with low yields, so it keeps big players out,” Ken Freeman of Freeman Vineyard & Winery told Harpers at a masterclass on the wines at 67 Pall Mall in London.

The origins of the AVA trace back to 2011, when six wineries – Peay, Redcar, Freeman, Joseph Phelps, Littorai and Failla - formed a group “in response to confusion about Sonoma Coast”.

They were driven by the common idea to better define a quality sub-region within that rambling AVA and “better promote” what is going on among the West Sonoma Coast wineries.

With soil studies and tastings undertaken to back up the proposed region with science, the growing group filed for a new AVA in 2015.

“Such a vast area really questions what an appellation is,” said Andy Peay of Peay Vineyards, referring to the broad Sonoma Coast AVA.

“So we are trying to define what is unique about what is going on in West Sonoma Coast - we have certain things in common, cool climate, elevation up to 1,000ft, cooling morning fog, the ocean also cools, so we are cool climate maritime, which results in more balanced ripening for Pinot Noir, longer hang time and more phenolic ripeness in the skins,” he added.

Freeman explained that with the AVA “technically approved”, further sub-regions with West Sonoma Coast are crystallising out, with a Fort Ross/Seaview AVA already in place, and the northerly Annapolis sub-region, plus Freestone/Occidental in the south, pending official applications once the main AVA officially comes into force in around 90 days time.

With regard to the claim to hold the crown for US Pinot Noir, Freeman smiled and said: “OK, we are all marketers, but we just see that there is a tremendous amount of buyer and sommelier interest, and that they gravitate towards the wines because they love the complexity and the acidity, the elegance, that the climate and soils deliver."

The tasting showed a clear, individual imprint of site that the wines typically revealed, but also an overarching cool climate expression, with that elegance and complexity rooted in the primarily fine sandstone soils found across the West Sonoma Coast ridges.

All about elegance and delicacy cover
The New York Times Style Magazine: Japan
All about elegance and delicacy

We are honored to have a feature article on Akiko Freeman and her winemaking in The New York Times Style Magazine Japan. "Akiko's winemaking style is all about elegance and delicacy...I want to make the best use of the characteristics of the land to create a well-balanced wine with good acidity."

Life Well Lived: Freeman Vineyard & Winery cover
Home + Style
Life Well Lived: Freeman Vineyard & Winery

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!...

Celebrating Women of Color in Wine
Five Trailblazing Women to Watch
Akiko Freeman cover
where epicure
Celebrating Women of Color in Wine
Five Trailblazing Women to Watch
Akiko Freeman

THE CALIFORNIA WINE industry isn't known for its diversity—for decades, most winemakers have had similar backgrounds, and most have been men. In recent years, however, a handful of women of color have taken Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties by storm, blazing new trails for their respective families and for the industry overall. Here are the stories of five remarkable women in the wine industry.


To say Akiko Freeman's family goes way back in Japan would be an understatement. Her family members trace their lineage back 23 generations. She is a cousin of Japan's Empress Michiko and related to the founding Mitsubishi family. She also likely the only female Asian winemaker in the entire United States. Akiko makes the juice at Freeman Winery in Sebastopol and co-owns the winery with her husband, Ken. In her job, she performs tasks that no women in her family have done before. "In Japan, ladies don't usually pick up anything heavier than chopsticks," she quips. "Now I'm doing punch-downs and carrying boxes of wine around the winery." Freeman credits her father and grandfather for her interest in wine; her grandfather loved Bordeaux-style vino and her father liked wines from Burgundy. When asked to describe her style, Akiko says proudly that she tries to imbue her wines with classic Old World-style influences. Consider it her way of paying tribute to the past.