Freemark Abbey Winery is an Italian style looking winery with ancient looking stone walls and curved archways outlining large wooden doors. It is worth spending a few minutes just walking around the property – it is a very photogenic winery. The Silverado Brewing Company restaurant is located on site and shares the winery parking lot. Need a break from wine, stop in to this restaurant! Freemark Abbey’s main building stores barrels of wine and is also used for production. They produce about 40,000 cases of wine a year. The large cozy tasting room is actually in a much newer building which is located adjacent to the stone building. There are some neat bits of trivia about this winery – it used to be called Tychson Cellars and was founded in 1886 by Josephine Marlin Tychson who actually became the one of the first women to own a winery in the entire state of California!
The name of this winery was formed by combining the first names of 3 owners who purchased the winery in 1939. We enjoyed their Chardonnay from the Truchard Vineyard (from the cooler Carneros region). There is a lot of citrus and lime type aromas from this wine with almost hints of bananas on the palate. The finish is slightly creamy. Their flagship wines are the Cabernets but they also produce limited quantities of quite a few other varietals (both red and white). They have own two main vineyards in the valley and then source from other area vineyards, some have been sourced from for many years.
A very nice tasting is their Library/Current Vintage Cabernet comparisons. As of press time they have wines for sale dating back to the late 1980′s – not a lot of wineries in the valley have this. The comparison tasting features 4 Cabernet Sauvignons – two of which are the generally the same blend but about 10 years difference in age. This comparison tasting to the best of our knowledge is one of a kind in the Napa area, featuring much older wines against their newer counterparts. We tried their 1991 Bosche Cabernet Sauvignon – still very rich in color although with a slight browning around the edges of the glass which is normal in wine this age. There are great dark fruit palate characteristics on this wine with a long soft finish. Their 1995 Sycamore is a Cabernet Sauvignon / Cabernet Franc blend and is a slightly bolder wine with a larger tannin structure. Tasting sheets are given with spaces to take tasting notes under each wine description. They have a beautiful 2000 Edelwein late harvest Riesling and we were told they were the first winery to make a late harvest of this varietal in the Napa area. It is natural botrysized wine so it is only made during certain years depending on the weather and growth of the Botrytis spores. Visit: www.freemarkabbey.com