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.