As one of Napa Valley’s longest tenured winemakers, Edwards will continue to support the winery and intends to spend more time working in the vineyards, especially the Bosché and Sycamore Vineyards, from which Freemark Abbey sources their flagship wines.
Beginning his career with Freemark Abbey in 1980, as assistant winemaker, by 1985, Edwards held the position of head winemaker and became a collaborative force as managing partner in 1992. Over his career, Edwards has helped define Napa Valley Cabernet and built a reputation for making some of Napa Valley’s top wine ambassadors.
Edwards has picked Kristy Melton to carry the baton forward as head winemaker, becoming the only female winemaker in the winery’s history since 1886, when founder Josephine Tychson became Napa Valley’s first woman to own and operate a winery.
‘Having the opportunity to continue the legacy of Freemark Abbey is an awesome responsibility,’ Melton said, ‘I’m excited about continuing to make the classically-styled Napa Valley wines that made the region famous.’
Edwards and Melton have been working side-by-side for the last year and a half and as of 1st January 2020, Edwards has taken a step back and will play a supporting role to Melton.
‘In 2019, I’ve been the pilot with Kristy acting as my co-pilot,’ Edwards said, ‘But in 2020, Kristy will become the pilot with me assisting her.’ Melton says she looks forward ‘to continuing to learn from my mentor and friend’ as the winemaking reins change hands.
Edward’s innovative winemaking approach has left its enduring mark on four decades of the estate’s Cabernet Sauvignon legacy built on fruit from Napa’s revered Rutherford AVA.
Freemark Abbey’s Single-vineyard Cabs from the Bosché and Sycamore Vineyards, are showcased in one of the most extensive wine libraries in America with vintages dating back to 1967. The celebrated Freemark Abbey wine library releases wine annually for consumers to enjoy their own taste of Napa history with a vertical 20, 15, and 10-year bottle offering. This year’s library releases include the 1999, 2004, 2009 and the current release 2015 from both the Sycamore and Bosché Vineyards.
As for Edwards, looking back over 40 years of winemaking in Napa Valley, he remains grateful for his distinguished time at Freemark Abbey.
‘After four decades, I am extremely blessed and lucky to be able to continue to work with the same winery, make wines that exhibit their terrific sources, and contribute to the Library of wines that go back to the 1960s.’