Freemark Abbey

A trailblazer of Napa Valley winemaking, Freemark Abbey’s history dates back to 1886, when the intrepid widow Josephine Tychson built and operated a cellar, made out of redwood, on what is now the estate. She cultivated the land here, and became the first female winemaker on record in Napa Valley. Her good friend, Antonio Forni, purchased the winery in 1898 and renamed it Lombarda Cellars after his birthplace in Italy; the following year, he constructed the still-standing winery using stones from nearby Glass Mountain. In 1949, Charles Freeman, Marquand Foster and Albert ‘Abbey’ Ahern purchased Lombarda Cellars; the winery is today known by the moniker they constructed from their names. 

The wineries most recent successes began in 1967, when seven partners purchased the winery. The expertise demonstrated by Dick Heggie, Brad Webb, Bill Jaeger, Frank Laurie Wood, Jim Warren, Chuck Carpy and John Bryan, lead to the winery being known as the ‘University of Freemark’ and a signature style of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon was developed that is still recognised today. 

In 1973, Wine Institute founder Leon D. Adams, publishes the highly influential book, ‘Wines of America,’ in which he compares Freemark Abbey 1968 Cabernet Sauvignon to ‘a good vintage of Chateau Margaux.’ In 1976, Freemark Abbey was one of twelve U.S. wineries chosen to compete in ‘The Judgment of Paris’ blind tasting, Freemark Abbey was the only winery with both a red and white wine represented; the result catapulted Napa Valley wines onto the world stage.

Ted Edwards became the winemaker in 1985, still at the helm three decades later, Ted is one of the California’s leading winemakers yet keen to develop his skills further. His work has received great reviews: in 1989, Wine Spectator remarked that Freemark Abbey was ‘The truest embodiment of Rutherford-style Cabernet’.