Estate History

Freemark Abbey’s history dates back over 125 years

Few Napa Valley wineries can rival the rich and storied history of Freemark Abbey. It all began in 1886, when Josephine Tychson established the original winery along Route 29 in St. Helena where Freemark Abbey still stands. She kicked off a history of innovation, becoming one of the first woman winegrowers on record.
  
Though many consider our library wines a religious experience … we’ve never actually been run by monks. The current name of the winery was created in 1939, when the three owners – Charles Freeman, Markquand Foster and Abbey Ahern – combined their names to form the moniker “Freemark Abbey.”

The University of Freemark & The Judgment of Paris

In 1967, seven partners purchased Freemark Abbey, setting the stage for a new era of creativity. The winery earned the nickname the “University of Freemark” due to the sheer number of innovations and significant winemakers that emerged from our cellars.
 
In 1976, wine expert Steven Spurrier conducted a legendary blind tasting in Paris – pitting the upstart wines of California against the establishment of France. Of the 12 American wineries chosen to compete, only Freemark Abbey had two wines represented – a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon. In an upset that shocked the wine world, California wines won every category of the tasting, putting Napa Valley firmly on the world stage.

Firmly grounded in a sense of place

Our stone winery, hand-built in 1899, is a testament to our long presence in Napa and on the famed Rutherford Bench. And in a valley overflowing with prized real estate, the Sycamore and Bosché vineyards that yield some of our choicest fruit are two of the most coveted.

A History of Winemaking Excellence

In the 1960s, Freemark Abbey Winemaker Brad Webb, (subsequently known for his time at Hanzell) pioneered a number of methods that have since become California winemaking standards. Case in point, his use of non-malolactic fermentation for Chardonnay is still used at Freemark Abbey today. In the 1970s, Jerry Luper (of Château Montelena and Diamond Creek fame) worked his magic on the red wines, cementing Freemark Abbey’s position as a world-class Cabernet house. 
  
Freemark Abbey has been fortunate to have Ted Edwards as winemaker since 1985. His creative approach combined with the sheer length of experience with the vineyards of Napa Valley – the Rutherford Bench in particular – makes him one of the region’s leading winemakers, most notably for his Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

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