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Toast to International Ties: Freeman Wines Featured at State Department

On Thursday, April 11, 2024, we had the honor of presenting our wines during a luncheon at the State Department, hosted by Vice President Kamala Harris to celebrate the visit of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan. Esteemed attendees included Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

Featured wines were the 2022 Ryo-Fu West Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and the 2021 Akiko's Cuvee West Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, both of which paired exquisitely with the seasonal menu, enhancing the culinary experience.

This prestigious event was not only a profound honor but also a testament to the deep cultural ties between the United States and Japan. We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to such a significant occasion and look forward to fostering further connections through our shared appreciation for fine wine.

Historic Award for Akiko Freeman: The Green & White Medal for Agricultural Excellence

Akiko Freeman was recently honored with the Green & White Medal for Agricultural Excellence, becoming the first woman ever to receive this prestigious accolade. The ceremony, held at the Japanese Consul General’s residence in Los Angeles, recognized her for being the first Japanese winemaker with a wine served at the White House and her transformative approach to organic farming. Shinkichki Koyama, who presented the award, said of Akiko, “She worked very hard to achieve the best growing conditions on the property — irrigation, ensuring that the soil was well-drained and well-oxygenated — all with the long-term vision to produce better grapes under organic farming protocols.” Her efforts have significantly contributed to the agriculture sector, reinforcing Japan-USA relations. This milestone achievement underscores Akiko's pioneering role in the field.

Historic Award for Akiko Freeman: The Green & White Medal for Agricultural Excellence

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. 

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.” 


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!...

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.


Friends of Freeman: Drink Well & Do Good

Join the Friends of Freeman where passion for cool-climate fine Pinot Noir and Chardonnay meets philanthropy. As a member, you'll enjoy exclusive benefits such as special events and curated wine allocations. Your participation also supports a 5% donation to important causes, including local nonprofits.

Details & Sign Up Here!

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