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 Chardonnay
Chardonnay (shar-dawn-AY) White Wine's Queen Bee
Sauvignon, Chardonnay can grow just about anywhere. It adapts well to different
soils and different climates. While frequently paired with
its native home lies in the vineyards of Burgundy,
France. The only major white grape of the region, Chardonnay is at its best on the rolling
slopes in Bourgogne. Other popular Chardonnay sites include California (just
about everywhere), Oregon,
Other US, Australia,
America and New
Chardonnay varies greatly with climate, soil and winemaking - but it adapts
just about anywhere, which is what makes it so popular. Cooler climates like
New Zealand and Chablis lead to crisp, acid-prone wines, while warmer climates
like Southern California and Australia foster riper grapes that create heavier
wine leaning towards tropical fruit flavors. So specific are the soils of Burgundy,
the wines of the region show subtle notes of mineral and chalk that belie their
origin. Chardonnay adapts itself to oak very well, as one may taste in many
of the wines.
Learn More About Sonoma County, California
Twice as large as Napa in size, Sonoma County only makes about a half the amount of wine as her northeasterly neighbor. But Sonoma, with her size, is able to vouch for more diversity within her borders, including sub-AVAs that are climatically varied. The atmosphere of Sonoma is decidedly laid back and down home country style. But in wines, they are keeping up with the Joneses, or Napa-ites if you will. Grape varieties are more varied here, from Pinot Noir and Zinfandel to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
The largest sub-AVAs of Sonoma include Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Valley. Each sub-AVA, with its own micro-climate, is unique in its grape varieties and styles of wine. Dry Creek makes a mean Zinfandel while Russian River produces stand up Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Alexander Valley makes some of the better Cabernet Sauvignons in the county and Sonoma Valley creates excellent wines from all the above varieties. Other grapes found throughout Sonoma include Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah.