Estate vineyards have always been central to Ken and Akiko Freeman’s vision for making truly distinctive Pinot Noir. Considering where and how they would establish their winery and vineyards, Ken and Akiko surveyed the California Pinot Noirs they respected most. They soon came to realize that nearly all of their favorites hailed from the same, small spot on the map: the far Sonoma Coast and the adjoining Russian River Valley. Here, climate and geography force wine grapes to struggle in order to achieve ripeness, building complexity and character in the process. Steep, rugged hills bathe in crisp ocean air, and valleys lie hidden beneath cool layers of fog. These hills, Ken and Akiko decided, would make the perfect home for their winery and its Pinot Noirs.
The Freeman Vineyard and Winery was established in the cool, western edge of the Russian River Valley AVA in 2001. Ken and Akiko then sought out and acquired two exceptional vineyard properties to complete their vision. The first, Gloria Vineyard, sits on eight hillside acres adjoining the winery proper and is Freeman’s Russian River Valley Estate Vineyard, planted in 2006 on a former apple orchard west of Sebastopol. Then in 2007, Ken and Akiko purchased the Freeman Ranch, an 1860 sheep farm, four miles closer to the Pacific. Here they planted the 14-acre Yu-ki Vineyard, with a Sonoma Coast designation.
These two vineyards, with their perfect combination of soil, climate and elevation, are now in full production, and they will be the focal point of Freeman’s estate wine program going forward. Akiko Freeman and her team are in a position to oversee all stages of wine growing and winemaking, from clonal selection and farming to cellaring and blending. This affords the opportunity to express a vision unique to Freeman: elegant, small-scale California Pinot Noir from the hands of a woman, imbued with a formal, Japanese aesthetic. These are wines like no other.