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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Freeman Vineyard & Winery : Wines to Greatness

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Freeman Vineyard & Winery was founded by Ken and Akiko Freeman in 2001, but the seed was planted 16 years earlier. Those who have visited Freeman’s picturesque winery in the Russian River Valley often ask about the keystone engraved with the date September 28, 1985, which crowns the entrance to the wine cave. The answer recalls a moment that is at the heart of the Freeman story.

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.

Great wines capture the soul of great vineyards. At the same time, thoughtfulness, care and vision are required to guide wines to greatness. At Freeman, a small, dedicated team led by winemaker Akiko Freeman shepherds each wine from vine to glass. This passionate team has established Freeman as one of the New World’s most acclaimed family-run wineries.

Gloria is Freeman’s estate vineyard, located adjacent to the winery. Ken and Akiko Freeman acquired this 8-acre vineyard site, previously an apple orchard, in 2005 and began planting the following year. They named the vineyard for Hurricane Gloria, the fortuitous (for them, at least) meteorological event that first brought them together in 1985.

Sitting in the coolest, westernmost part of the Russian River Valley is the “Green Valley of Russian River Valley” appellation. Located just 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean, Gloria possesses all the attributes that make the region ideal for Pinot Noir: a steep hillside for optimal drainage, Goldridge sandy loam soils, and a climate that is sunny but unusually cool, moderated by the daily ebb and flow of Russian River Valley fog.

The vineyard is comprised of six Pinot Noir blocks, each planted to one of Akiko’s favorite clones, including Swan, Pommard, 115, La Tache, and two Calera. Organic and biodynamic farming methods are used whenever possible, and owl boxes encourage raptors to provide natural rodent control. Various cover crops replenish the soil, and chemical intervention is kept at an absolute minimum. Due to extreme weather and elevation, yields vary from 1 to 2 tons per acre, resulting in wines of great nerve and complexity.

In 2020, Freeman Vineyard & Winery has been recognized and awarded GOLD Medal by Singapore Newspaper.

2017 Freeman Gloria Estate Pinot Noir

Awarded Gold by Singapore Newspaper

Elegant, balanced wines find their essence at the intersection of provenance, inspiration and artistry. Though a wine will only ever be as good as the vineyards it comes from, the wisdom of nature can be nurtured and gently accentuated. At Freeman, every wine is intimately made by hand in small lots. As many as 50 individual clonal fermentations are managed each vintage to make just six Pinot Noirs. The focus is exclusively on cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and total production is kept below 5,000 cases to ensure that every bottling receives the love and attention it deserves.

The 2017 vintage was the most prolific we’ve ever had at Gloria. It also produced the largest crop the Russian River Valley has seen in many years— pre-dating the Freeman winery. The weather was ideal throughout the growing season, from budbreak to harvest, making 2018 a year without parallel so far this century. All five clones at Gloria ripened slowly and evenly. Because there were no heat waves to rush the picking process, we were able to make harvest decisions based on perfect ripeness.

The 2017 Gloria Pinot Noir greets the nose with an intense blackberry aroma and a hint of wild herbs, including the slightest hint of mint. The wine has an almost chewy, crunchy texture, and the palate is bursting with tart berry flavors. The finish, lasting for minutes, forecasts a long life for the 2017 Gloria. This is probably the most well-rounded Gloria Pinot Noir to date, and the wine really shows off the stellar quality of the 2018 vintage. Drink this from late 2020 through 2028.

Interview of Mr. Ken Freeman – Winegrower/Owner

Question 1: Do you already export to Singapore ? If yes, where ? If no, what type of importers & distributors are you looking for in Singapore ?

Yes, we have a nice business in Singapore and we work with Melina, Dr. NK Young and Lynn Yeow at: http://www.gironwines.com/sole-distributorships/united-states-of-america/

Question 2: What is the most unique and qualitative part of your products, different from competitors ?

Akiko my wife, is our winemaker, and she is from Tokyo, Japan.  Akiko was born in Roppongi and her family goes back 23 generations.  Akiko’s a cousin of Empress Michiko.

Akiko and I also used to live in Singapore, where I helped set-up the Discovery Channel.

Question 3: When did you start to export your brand worldwide, and what is your development plan for the next years ? 

We started our winery in 2001, and we have been exporting to Japan and Singapore since 2005.

For more information about Freeman Vineyard & Winery please CLICK HERE:

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