The wines of Freeman are deeply tied to the idea of provenance, which, at its heart, means place of origin. The wines are crafted using grapes from some of the coolest parts of the Russian River Valley and the extreme Sonoma Coast—including Freeman’s own estate vineyards. As much as these origins are tied to a distinctive sense of place, they are also tied to an abiding belief that California can produce Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines that are as complex, eloquent and age-worthy as those of Burgundy.
Ken and Akiko first began looking for a home for Freeman in 1997. Most weekends saw them driving up and down the Pacific Coast searching the back roads of the coolest parts of Pinot and Chardonnay country. Their search led them to the Russian River Valley, considered hallowed ground in the lore of California Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. With its steep hillsides, Goldridge loam soils and a climate shaped by evening fog and cool marine breezes that ebb and flow through the Petaluma Gap and up the Russian River, conditions are near perfect for growing these noble grapes.
In 2001, the Freemans found their dream property on a steep, redwood-covered hillside in the foggy Green Valley, widely considered the optimal Russian River location for growing Pinot Noir. With a house and a small winery they could make their own, surrounded by legendary Pinot Noir vineyards, the site was ideal. Today the estate is home to the Freeman Winery and its 8-acre Gloria Estate Vineyard.
The Freemans also went on to establish the Yu-ki Vineyard on the extreme Sonoma Coast, located just six miles from the Pacific Ocean at an elevation of 1,200 feet. With its remoteness, steep slopes and rugged, fog-shrouded cliffs, this region is not an easy place to grow grapes. But for those intrepid enough to work on the westernmost edge of California viticulture, the rewards are many. Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes are unlike any other in California. Shaped by wind and fog and grown in hillside soils, the vines struggle to produce small yields of fruit. From this struggle comes something unique and exceptional: wines of uncompromising sophistication, with compelling purity of flavor, nerve and precision.
These two remarkable vineyard sites are now the primary sources for Freeman’s Pinot Noir program.