Freemark Abbey Winery

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The Freemark Abbey Story Overview

Freemark Abbey is a Napa Valley original. Founded in 1886, Freemark Abbey hasn’t been “young” for a long time. With nearly 50 vintages’ worth of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon vintages tucked away in its library, Freemark’s signature portfolio of wines represents one of the most fully realized Cabernet programs in America. Today, Kristy Melton continues the forward-thinking vision of Freemark Abbey.

For over half a century, America’s premier grape-growing state has enjoyed a reputation more or less interchangeable with Cabernet Sauvignon’s. It’s the king of red wine grapes in California—and also in France—for a reason: the amazing complexity that skilled winemakers are able to coax out of it when grown in optimum locations. They know all about this in the great, old chateaux of Bordeaux, as well as at many younger, but equally prestigious, wineries in Napa Valley. The world’s best Cabernet grapes are grown in these respective regions.

The Sum of Its Parts

Today, Freemark Abbey is many things to many people: a team of some of the most respected winemakers working in Napa Valley; a historic 1886 winery and pristine estate, with an enthusiastic hospitality program that highlights both; a collection of source vineyards up and down Napa Valley, representing several of California’s most distinctive terroirs; an extensive—and unparalleled—wine library that stretches back decades; and a winery that, because of its long history and international reputation, is one of Napa Valley’s true ambassador brands.

Freemark Abbey’s newly appointed Winemaker Emeritus, Ted Edwards, has overseen much of its ascendance. As he moves into a self-described “co-pilot” role to new Winemaker Kristy Melton, he can reflect on the changes he’s witnessed at this iconic St. Helena winery over 40 years.

Moving forward, Ted’s job will be to offer advice and counsel to Kristy and her winemaking team, to continue in a leading viticultural role, and to carry on as Freemark’s most experienced proponent. The two Rutherford vineyards, Bosché and Sycamore, are, like Ted himself, closely linked to the winery’s identity. This won’t change. What will change is Ted’s ability to focus his energy on the growing protocols at this pair of vineyards, which are closer to his winemaker’s heart than any others in Napa Valley.

The transition from Ted to Kristy in 2020 is just another step in the evolution of this extraordinary wine estate. There are bookends to the story, however, at least up to the present day: a pioneering, unstoppable woman founded the property 135 year ago, and today an equally unique and determined woman is taking charge.


Napa Valley Freemark Abbey Winemaker Kristy Melton