In the late 1880s, an enterprising Swiss immigrant by the name of Andrew Frei gazed upon the rolling hills, gentle streams, and fertile soil of Sonoma County and saw a wine glass of opportunity. By 1890, he was the proud owner of a 344 acre vineyard in northern Sonoma, giving birth to a winemaking tradition that is very much alive today.
Frei didn't waste any precious time once he acquired the land. By 1895, he was producing 20,000 cases of high quality wine that was stored in huge redwood casks.
In spite of a devastating blight of phylloxera, by 1904 the winery had actually increased in size and production. Now in his seventies, Frei turned the business over to his two sons, Walter and Louis. In 1903, the winery was officially named Frei Bros.
The Frei Bros. Winery continued to grow over the years, in spite of disasters such as the one that occurred in 1919, when a curious piece of legislation that came to be known as Prohibition put many an American winery out of business.
Again, the Frei family persevered, and now you can taste the legacy of a great winemaking tradition in Frei Brothers Reserve, a new release that combines the spirit of old world winemaking techniques with grapes that are hand selected from some of Sonoma's finest vineyards.
Learn More About Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir (PEE-noh nwahr)
Pinot Noir is a finicky grape. It only grows in
the right climate, with the right soils and the right care. Perhaps because
it is so difficult is why it is so loved. Pinot Noir hails from Burgundy, a region known for crafting the most collectible and sought-after wines from this varietal.
Not only does Pinot reign in Burgundy, it is also essential in Champagne, where it is one of the
three main grapes in creating sparkling wine. Pinot Noir mutates
easily and so there are many different clones floating around in different wine regions.
Other than Burgundy, Pinot has been successful in areas like
and lately, New
Zealand - the Central
Otago region to be exact. Burgundian Pinot Noir typically offers flavors and aromas
of red fruit, summer pudding and baking spices. As the wine matures - and great
Burgundies are able to do so for years - the flavors become more like the earth
the wine comes from- mushrooms, truffles - and the wine gains tremendous complexity.
Pinot Noir from the new world like Oregon and California typically exude stronger
fruit intensity. Some are able to reach a high level of complexity, structure
and age. Others are wonderful for drinking now with a myriad of foods. Many
may wax poetic about this grape, the reason being that Pinot Noir produces an
amazing contradiction in wine - something so delicate and subtle, yet powerful
Learn More About Russian River, California
The Russian River Valley is named as such due to its proximity to the Russian River, the river itself named for the Russian fur traders who came down from Alaska in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The Russian River is agricultural land. While there is a focus on wine, beyond the vineyards are many small, family-owned farms cultivating everything from cattle to Christmas trees.
The proximity of this cool river and the rolling fogs from the Pacific Ocean make the area amenable to cool-climate grapes like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In fact, the region is quite known for its full-bodied, yet elegant Pinot Noir, as well as their ripe, yet lean Chardonnays. Within Russian River Valley lie the smaller appellations of Chalk Hill and Green Valley. Chalk Hill is the warmer of the two and furthest from the ocean, while Green Valley is cooler and closer to the water.