Freestone Vineyards:
Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

Freestone Vineyards was founded in 1999 when Joseph Phelps planted 100 acres of Sonoma Coast to Pinot Noir (82 acres) and Chardonnay (18 acres) following biodynamic principles. Its first vintage was in 2005. Located just five miles from the cold Pacific, the Freestone vineyards experience early morning fog that contributes to large diurnal swings in temperature and a very long growing season, allowing fruit to ripen slowly and achieve phenolic maturity.

Freestone will soon release its fourth vintage—2008, a year noted for its unusual September heat spikes. The International Wine Review once again visited with Freestone’s lead winemaker Theresa Heredia (pictured left) and tasted barrel samples for 2008 as well as the 2007 current releases. Our assessment of the 2007 releases confirms what we found in the barrel samples of those same wines last year. [See our earlier March 2009 article posted on this website.] We are pleased to report that Freestone has just reduced its wine prices….significantly, so what were already good values are now great ones.


Freestone produces Chardonnay under three labels—Freestone, Ovation, and Fogdog. Both an estate vineyard blend—the Freestone—and a single vineyard bottling—Pastorale Vineyard—are produced. These wines are aged 15 months in 70% new French oak. Ovation is a blend of estate Chardonnay and purchased fruit and aged 12-15 months in 70% new French oak. Fogdog is a blend of fruit from Freestone’s three Sonoma Coast vineyards and aged 15 months in 60% new French oak.

Freestone 2007 Chardonnay Pastorale Vineyard Sonoma Coast ($55) 94

This is a beautifully balanced wine showing smoky peach and mango on the nose. The seamless palate is full, creamy and elegant with a beautiful stony minerality and an amazingly complex palette of flavors. Produced from a special block of vines of mainly old suitcase clones.

Freestone 2007 Ovation Chardonnay Sonoma Coast ($45) 92

The elegant Ovation shows floral and citrus on the nose and ripe pear and stone fruit on a lovely, soft lush attack. The oak is beautifully integrated on a soft, creamy and rich palate. Finishes with beautiful hazelnut notes.

Freestone 2007 Fogdog Chardonnay ($35) 90

This is a real California Chardonnay showing butter, smoke, and rich, buttery tropical fruit on both the nose and the palate. It’s quite lush and creamy on a medium-bodied palate with good acid levels.

Freestone 2008 Chardonnay Freestone Vineyard Barrel Sample

Shows beautiful delicate aromas of melon and river stones with a mint note. There’s ripe stone fruit and mango on the palate with nicely integrated oak. Benefits from the use of lightly toasted 500 liter barrels. This wine doesn’t appear to have suffered from the September heat spikes of the vintage. Looks like a winner!

Freestone 2008 Chardonnay Pastorale Vineyard Barrel Sample

The Pastorale Chardonnay is a beautiful medium yellow gold wine showing smoke and stone fruit aromas, ripe apples on the palate, and smoke notes again on the finish. Somewhat tight at present.

Freestone 2008 Chardonnay Ovation Barrel Sample

The Ovation shows light tropical fruit and smoke aromas. This is a delicious, ripe wine with good natural acidity. Shows good structure, too.

Pinot Noir

Two labels of Pinot Noir are produced at Freestone—Freestone and Fogdog. The pre mium Freestone Pinot Noir is produced from both Freestone and Quarter Moon vineyards. It’s aged 15 months in 55% new French oak. In addtion, two single vineyard Pinot Noirs are produced from Pastorale Vineyard and Quarter Moon Vineyard. Fogdog Pinot Noir is a blend of fruit from Freestone’s three estate vineyards and aged 12 months in 40% new French oak. The Pinot Noir clones in Freestone’s estate vineyards include the Dijon clones 115, 667, 777, and 828 and California heritage clones, mainly Calera, Pommard, and Pisoni. Pascal Marchand, former manager of Burgundy’s Domaine de la Vougearie is the winemaking consultant.

Freestone 2007 Freestone Pinot Noir ($55) 92

This is a serious, powerful and full-flavored wine. The use of 42% whole clusters contributes to the earthy complexity of the wine. The nose reveals violets and sweet cherry with a framboise note. The palate is complex and layered with dark cherry, graphite, and mineral notes. It finishes long with round tannins.

Freestone 2007 Fogdog Pinot Noir ($35) 91

This a beautiful wine from start to finish. Saturated medium dark ruby red in color, there are aromas of violets, pure red cherry, and smoky oak. The soft, velvet smooth palate is weighty with red cherry fruit, loam, and spice present. Finishes with a raspberry liqueur note.

Freestone 2008 Freestone Pinot Noir Barrel Sample

This wine has an incredible perfume of dark berry, violets, dark cherry and cedar and a medium weight, beautifully flavored palate of dark cherry, plum and underbrush. Still firmly tannic at this stage of its development. Unlikely to develop the power of the 2007 but compensates with its elegance.

Freestone 2008 Pinot Noir Quarter Moon Vineyard Barrel Sample

This vineyard tends to give dark fruit. The bouquet on this wine is astounding—spicy red cranberry,lavender and black raspberry liqueur come to mind. There’s dark red fruit and vanilla spice with a raspberry note on the palate. Made using 100% modified whole clusters, this is an elegant and refined wine that will be well worth its price.

Freestone 2008 Pinot Noir Pastorale Vineyard Barrel Sample

Another 100% whole cluster fermented Pinot showing dark cherry, earth and cedar on the nose. The palate is very rich and layered. Absolutely lovely! This wine will mostly be sold through the winery’s mailing list, which is a very good reason to join the club.

Written by Don Winkler, February 2010