' 1976 Judgment of Paris | Freemark Abbey | Historic Winery
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Estate History

Freemark Abbey - Historic Napa Winery

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

Freemark Abbey - Seven FoundersIn 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.

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