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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 Winery in the top 52 California wineries you need to visit in 2020 cover
San Francisco Chronicle
Freeman Winery in the top 52 California wineries you need to visit in 2020

Ken and Akiko Freeman are serious about wine. Since planting their vineyard in 2001, they have been single-mindedly dedicated to improving their farming and producing high-quality Pinot Noir wines that reflect their places of origin. Those places are the western edges of the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast AVAs, where cooler temperatures can produce Pinot Noirs that lean toward European styles. Akiko Freeman makes the wines with the help of consulting winemaker Ed Kurtzman, also of August Briggs. Visits to the estate in Sebastopol, by appointment only, feel personal and include a tour of the Gloria Vineyard and the wine caves, plus a guided tasting. All that for $30 – with such a thoughtful experience and such well-made wines, it’s hard to imagine a better deal in Sonoma County today.

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!...


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