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 Cabernet Sauvignon
(cab-uhr-NAY sow-veeh-yawn) King of Red Many refer to Cabernet Sauvignon as the king of red grapes. Perhaps that title is due to its ability to grow worldwide in a number of climates, or to the fact that it produces wine with such character yet such diversity. Either way, this grape is responsible, as a whole or a partner, for some of the greatest wines in the world. In Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon is the principle grape of the Medoc. It plays a supporting role in the blends of the right bank in regions such as St-Emillion and Pomerol. It also found a very successful home in California - particularly the Napa Valley - where it crafts the classic and cult wines of the region. However, Cabernet is a hearty grape, and has taken well to many regions: South America, Australia, South Africa, Washington State and Italy's Tuscan coast.
Notable Facts The Cabernet Sauvignon grape is a small berry with a thick skin and a high pip to pulp ratio. This in turn creates a wine high in color, tannin and extract. Typical Cabernet Sauvignon descriptors include blackberry, cassis, cedar and currant. Because the grape adapts to many different soils and climates, its characteristics truly reflect a sense of place. In Bordeaux you'll find the more earthy, tannic side of Cabernet, where it's typically blended to soften tannins and add complexity. In warmer regions like California and Australia, you'll frequently find ripe fruit flavors upfront. Cabernet Sauvignon crafts wines as a single varietal and as a blending partner, where it can add structure and tannins.
Summing it up Successful Sites: Just about everywhere, particularly Bordeaux and California
Common Descriptors: blackberry, black chery, black currant, cassis, herbs, cedar, tobacco, earth
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.