In recent years, the Freestone-Occidental area is increasingly becoming the pre-eminent growing region of the Sonoma Coast for quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Many ultra-premium producers of Burgundian-style wines seek quality fruit in the coolest growing regions—sacrificing higher yields and in some years risking entire crops.  The close proximity to the Pacific Ocean provides constant exposure to ocean breezes and coastal fog that moves through the area, though many vineyards in the area are located on ridge tops and at elevations of 600 to 1,200 feet—well above the fog.

Freestone-Occidental is not an official wine growing appellation, but a proposal for AVA status was registered in the Fall of 2009.  It is located about 10 miles west of Sebastopol in west Sonoma County.  This region is mostly within the Sonoma Coast AVA, with a smaller portion overlapping the western-most portion of the Russian River Valley AVA between Jonive Road and Bohemian Highway just east of Freestone.  The Freestone-Occidental area is generally outlined by the town of Occidental to the North, Occidental Road and Jonive Road to the East, Bodega Highway to the South and Salmon and Finley Creeks and Coleman Valley Road to the West.

This region has a topographic makeup that is divided by two distinct characteristics:

Freestone, to the south, is made up of open valleys, hillsides and pastureland along Bodega Highway (Highway 12) and on either side of Bohemian Highway.  Planted here are larger vineyard tracts owned by the more established, premium producers like Phelps’ Freestone Vineyards, Kistler, Benziger, Dutton-Goldfield and Marimar Torres.

To the north, Occidental has a wooded, more rugged terrain, with vineyards along Joy Road, Bittner Road, and Fitzpatrick Lane—the first ridge in from the Pacific and therefore the most extreme of growing conditions in the region.  Among the most storied vineyard neighborhoods, Taylor Lane sits on a ridge top in the southwest portion of the region, with premium vineyards dating back to the late 1970s.  Aside from Jackson Estates’ Seascape vineyard, the Occidental area has mostly small-scale vineyards set on hilltops and carved out of hillsides, including Summa, Thieriot, Littorai’s The Haven, Stuller and Cobb’s Coastlands vineyard.

The extreme cool weather helps vineyard operators grow some of the highest quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the county.  But quality here comes at a big price: yields are often only one ton per acre—in the most recent years, we’ve heard that a half ton per acre is more the norm.  Unlike the more consistent topography of areas like Green Valley, the rugged terrain provides a variety of soils types, including Goldridge, Blucher, Hugo and Josephine.


Ultra-premium wineries from Sonoma and Napa counties have sourced fruit from the Freestone-Occidental area since the 1970s, though more earnestly in the last decade or two.  Vineyards in these areas are characterized by being relatively small in size, situated on ridges and hillsides, and quite low-yielding given the extreme cool weather in this portion of the Sonoma Coast.

Wineries that have sourced from Freestone-area vineyards: (* indicates vineyard is winery-owned)

  • Benzinger Family Winery: de Coelo Vineyard
  • Capiaux Cellars: Freestone HIll Vineyard
  • Chausser Wines: Cleary Ranch, Joyce Vineyard
  • Conner Brennan Cellars: Bohemian Vineyard
  • Dutton Goldfield Wines: Freestone Hill*
  • Dutton Estate Winery: Freestone Hill*
  • Freestone Vineyards: Furguson, Pastoral*, Quarter Moon*
  • Furthermore Wines: Bohemian Vineyard
  • J Vineyards & Winery: Cleary Ranch
  • Kistler Vineyards: Bodega Headlands*, Occidental Station*
  • Ledson Wines: Cleary Ranch
  • Littorai: Platt Vineyard
  • Lynmar Estate: Zephyr Farms
  • Marimar Estate Vineyards & Winery: Dona Margarita*
  • Patz & Hall Wines: Freestone Hill Vineyard
  • Red Car Wine Co: Platt Vineyard, La Boheme
  • Scherrer Winery: Platt Vineyard
  • Sonoma Coast Vineyards: Freestone Hill Vineyard, Balistreri Family Vineyard

Wineries that have sourced from Occidental-area vineyards (* indicates vineyard is winery-owned)

  • Acacia Vineards: Horseshoe Bend
  • Belle Glos: Taylor Lane Vineyard*
  • Boheme Wines: Que Syrah, Taylor Ridge, Stuller
  • Ceritas Wines: Escarpa
  • Cobb Wines: Coastlands*, Joy Road, Jack Hill
  • Davis Family Vineyards: Horseshoe Bend
  • Evening Land Vineyards: Doc's Ranch, Occidental Vineyard*
  • Failla: Occidental Ridge, Que Syrah
  • Flowers Vineyard & Winery: Coastlands
  • Freeman Vineyards & Winery: Coastlands
  • Furthermore Wines: Nevina's Vineyard*
  • Hartford Family Winery: Seascape*
  • Neyers Vineyards: B Thieriot
  • Marimar Estate Vineyards & Winery: Dona Margarita*
  • Occidental Road Cellars: Horseshoe Bend*
  • Rivers Marie: B Thieriot, Joya Vineyard, Occidental Ridge, Summa*
  • Small Vines Wines: MK Vineyard
  • Whetstone Wine Cellars: Guidici Family Vineyards
  • Williams Selyem: Coastlands