AKIKO FREEMAN — WINEMAKER
At Freeman, the gifted palate of winemaker Akiko Freeman guides every wine, every vintage. When Akiko and Ken founded Freeman in 2001, Akiko dedicated herself to the ideals of a family-run winery, and a belief that a wine bearing the Freeman name should reflect the Freeman touch. To achieve this goal, Akiko immersed herself in the world of viticulture and winemaking, and apprenticed herself to renowned winemaker Ed Kurtzman. Today, Akiko oversees every aspect of Freeman’s winemaking program, from the organic farming of Freeman’s estate vineyards and the selection of grower partners to fermentations, racking, lot evaluations and blending. Her vision and refined palate have established Freeman as one of the great benchmarks for cool-climate New World winemaking, while also establishing Akiko as a winemaking talent in her own right.
Counting back her family tree 21 generations, Akiko grew up in Tokyo. Her grandfather was one of Japan’s leading academics, and his love for wine, literature and art was contagious, imbuing his granddaughter with a lifelong taste for the enigmatic beauty of great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In the mid 1990s, after receiving her master’s degree in Italian Renaissance art history from Stanford, Akiko traveled widely throughout Europe and as far as South Africa to explore the great winemaking regions of the world. Returning to California in 1997, Akiko worked with Ken to realize their longstanding dream of establishing a small, family-run winery dedicated to crafting expressive cool-climate California Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. This dream was realized in 2001, when the couple founded Freeman Vineyard & Winery.