A Woman’s Touch: A Conversation with Theresa Heredia of Freestone Vineyards

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The California Pinot Noirs that tend to draw the attention of the critics and enthusiasts are ones that are single vineyard bottlings that stick their chest out and claim to be terroir-driven. In truth, the wines are often highly extracted, high in alcohol, generously oaked, and darkly colored, so loud and powerful that terroir is lost in all of the pumped-up glamor. Really good Pinot Noir should not only taste like Pinot Noir, it should have refinement, breeding, subtlety, and suaveness, but above all else, it should show a sense of place by exhibiting terroir. Winemaker Theresa Heredia of Freestone Vineyards is a proponent of terroir, and she is dedicated to bringing out the regional typicity of the Freestone estate vineyards located in the extreme Sonoma Coast.

Despite the importance of the place where a wine is made, the ambition and talent of the person who made it is highly relevant to how that wine tastes. We all like to know about the personal idiosyncrasies and a winemaker’s take on the world. Those are the things that make wine different and special. Join us in a conversation with Theresa Heredia as the Grape Radio crew learns about her ambition and character and why her touch is guiding Freestone Vineyards to produce some of the most stunning terroir-driven Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays in California.

For more info on Freestone Vineyards: www.freestonevineyards.com

Sponsor: 2010 World of Pinot Noir: www.worldofpinotnoir.com

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Show #261
(59:35min 42MB)

11 Responses to “A Woman’s Touch: A Conversation with Theresa Heredia of Freestone Vineyards”


  1. 1 crieg Feb 22nd, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Theresa knows her stuff. Great interview detailing her effort in crafting wines that are reflective of the site. I hope she -and the team- succeeds beyond expectations.

  2. 2 Roland Feb 23rd, 2010 at 5:16 am

    Hi guys

    Nice interview.I hope more women would be winemakers because if we remember that Madam Lalou Bize-Leroy –former winemaker of Romanee Conti and the current winemaker of Chateau d’Yquem is Sandrine Garbay are women who control the skills of two of the greatest wines in the world.

    Women do most things better then men,they focus better then men and can multi-task which men just can’t do.About her answer on soils.When she says healthy soils I hope she meant that they must be poor soils because all great wines come from poor soils.Viticulturally healthy soils are not good for wine making,you want poor soils like in the whole of france which have all the good nutrients deep down in them.

    I was happy to hear her say she believes in low alcohol wines and she even said that the higher the alcohol the less the wines age which is true.I hope all those high alcohol winemakers were listening to the show.About what the public think,she should just make wine that she knows will be elegant and great and automatically the public will love it.The moment you think about how to make your wines for the public that’s when you are on the wrong road.

    About California Chardonnay and some people not liking them it’s because of the american oak.If they changed and used French oak the wines would not only show more sence of place but would be more elegant and smooth.American oak is heavy and harsh on the wine but it costs less so I guess some winemakers use it because of the cost issue.It is a true fact that chardonnay takes well to oak but it expresses itself best through french oak.

    And about decanting Burgundies,be very careful because the top burgundies I have asked in my travels,the producers there say that if you give a burgundy too much air it starts to close.Just use a burgundy class which is enough air for the wine to open.Yes the complex white burgdunies one can decant but just before drinking with not much air.Chablis one does not have to decant.Burgundy wine white and red are very sensitive to air not like big bordeaux.

    Thanks for the show.

    Roland

    Sommelier

  3. 3 JOHN MARTELLY Feb 23rd, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Wow, science can really take the fun out of drinking wine. In the beginning of the interview I was becoming nervous with all the “inside baseball” talk.

    Nevertheless, I agree whole-heartedly that to many tools can ruin a good vintage.

    Also, easy with the “More women should be wine makers” talk. I really don’t care if the winemaker in man, woman or goat. My concern is the passion. All the science in the world cannot replace the human experience. It’s not how much the wine taste like blackberries, it’s how it transports us from where we are that matters to me.

    Long Live Grape Radio!

  4. 4 GrapeRadio Bunch Feb 23rd, 2010 at 10:32 am

    I hear you John. I do feel the science of wine is important in that it helps winemakers produce healthy wines. . I look at it as similar to structural engineering that is used to ensure that your home is safe and sound. However, the personality and style of the home is best left to others.

    I have never had a bad wine made by a goat. :-)

    JAY

  5. 5 Randy Feb 23rd, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Nice interview. I’m diggin her terroir intent and the lack of desire to over do it. In all honestly, there are few womem winemakers who ARE showing balance and terroir. We all know the various women wine who are applying the “bigger is better” mentality to their wines. Longer hang time, big tannin extraction and big oak profiles. I go to Wild Flower bakery there in Freestone often so we’ll be stopping by and checkin in out.

  6. 6 ~Steele Feb 24th, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Please do not “gender-fy” wine. A woman making wine is not news, nor is the race of the person making wine. Wine transends gender and to bring it down to gender is to disrespect a noble beverage.

  7. 7 GrapeRadio Bunch Feb 25th, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    I don’t think we suggested that a woman making wine was “news”. IMHO, while suggesting that sex/race/age/sexual orientation, etc do not have any impact on wine making is PC, it denies some real world realities. For example, I have personally spoken to growers that negotiate grape contracts differently with a woman than a man. Obviously, that is not the way it should be, but it does exist (occasionally). Personally, I separate the romance of wine from the business of wine. Just my 2 cents.

    Jay

  8. 8 Raphael Mar 4th, 2010 at 8:35 am

    I enjoy scientists who are passionate about wine. However, sometimes they tend to dismiss the scientific method often in some of their opinions, for which there is no proof. I believe that this shows her as having a healthy mixture of “artisanal” component in her craft. The best winemakers do get to use their intuition. Nothing wrong with that.

    However, as much as I personally think that high alcohol in table wines is both a sin against delicacy, and a food pairing challenge, is there any scientific proof that the solvent properties of the alcohol itself can be detrimental to the life of the wine? This is a myth. Are fortified wines designed to perish on purpose because of high alcohol? Someone better inform the Portuguese that their wines are doomed.

    There isn’t any empirical evidence available to prove that levels of alcohol, acid, sugar, tannins, or anything else in the liquid suspension commonly known as wine has any detrimental effects on longevity. On the contrary, it would be common sense to think that the more you have of any of these components, the better the likelihood that the wine will be preserved. The more of any compound in the solution, the more time will be needed for the natural progression of the chemical changes associated with proper aging in a cellar.

    Not only are there low alcohol riesling wines that age beautifully for decades, there are glorious madeiras, port and other fortified wines that also stand the test of time. Higher alcohol dry Australian Rieslings also age extremely well.

    Is it possible that high alcohol wines could be out of balance with other components in some modern wines? Possibly, but that is only my feeling and another unproven opinion. It might be that the lower phenolic ratio in Pinot Noir juice compared to Cabernet produces a faster reaction with some of the other chemicals in solution. But there are also white fortified wines which would contain lower phenolics than Pinot Noir.

    Not too long ago a low pH was said to be the most important factor in wine longevity and the first lesson in enology 101 was acidification. That’s how sure the experts were back then. I think that it can only be said with certainty that thin, watery, cheap plunk is the only type of wine incapable of offering too much pleasure after aging.

  9. 9 Roland Mar 4th, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Hi Raphael

    I must repsoned to your comments.Firstly did you forget how Port wine is made and why only some Port wine can age well.Namely Vintage Port,Garrafeira Port,Single Quinta Port and Traditional LBV Port,yes these are the styles of port which age and just remember there are 10 different styles of port.

    It is sweet and that sweet component helps in it’s ageing.Also remember that Vintage Ports are blends and again when wine is blended it adds to Longevity just like the dry wines of bordeaux.Bordeaux wines are the most long lived dry wines in the world because of three factors.They are blends,they have good tannins and good acidity and put together these components brings longevity.No other dry wines in the world age like bordeaux’s.Coming back to Port.

    You do get some dry Port’s but they are drunk within the first fours years.Why do sweet wines age so well and they have low alcohol leves because of the rich sweetness and blending of the wines.Sauternes are blends again.If Ports did not have that great sweetness to it they would not age the way they do and their fermentation process is different to dry wines.About Madeiras which by the way are my favourite Ports are also sweet.And again it’s only the ten year old,Fifteen year old,Solera and Vintage Madeira which age beautifully.The other styles are drunk within the first few years and they don’t have the higher levels of sweetness.

    About low alcohol Riesling.Again the ones that age beautifully are the sweet Rieslings and yes I have tasted dry old rieslings that age great but it’s the sweet ones that age for over 50 years and their great acidity also.Higher alcohol Australian Rieslings can never age the way sweet rieslings from Germany and Austria can age mate.In some cases one also has to look at the grape variety because it’s natural components are different and every grape is different and has different abilities to age.But high alcohol wines age because of sweetness like Ports which again are made differently and low alcohol wines age because of sweetness.

    Yes good acidity and tannins also play their part.But with dry wines you just have to travel to all the wine regions and taste wines from all the regions and you will find out many reasons like I have done why it’s only really bordeaux that stands the test for over 50 plus years of ageing.It’s the great blending done there,the well structured tannins and great acidity that bring their longevity and they are between 12 and 13 percent alcohol.

    Thanks for the comment.

    Roland

    Sommelier

  10. 10 Ian Apr 26th, 2010 at 1:31 am

    Hi Raphael

    I must repsoned to your comments.Firstly did you forget how Port wine is made and why only some Port wine can age well.Namely Vintage Port,Garrafeira Port,Single Quinta Port and Traditional LBV Port,yes these are the styles of port which age and just remember there are 10 different styles of port.

    It is sweet and that sweet component helps in it’s ageing.Also remember that Vintage Ports are blends and again when wine is blended it adds to Longevity just like the dry wines of bordeaux.Bordeaux wines are the most long lived dry wines in the world because of three factors.They are blends,they have good tannins and good acidity and put together these components brings longevity.No other dry wines in the world age like bordeaux’s.Coming back to Port.

    You do get some dry Port’s but they are drunk within the first fours years.Why do sweet wines age so well and they have low alcohol leves because of the rich sweetness and blending of the wines.Sauternes are blends again.If Ports did not have that great sweetness to it they would not age the way they do and their fermentation process is different to dry wines.About Madeiras which by the way are my favourite Ports are also sweet.And again it’s only the ten year old,Fifteen year old,Solera and Vintage Madeira which age beautifully.The other styles are drunk within the first few years and they don’t have the higher levels of sweetness.

    About low alcohol Riesling.Again the ones that age beautifully are the sweet Rieslings and yes I have tasted dry old rieslings that age great but it’s the sweet ones that age for over 50 years and their great acidity also.Higher alcohol Australian Rieslings can never age the way sweet rieslings from Germany and Austria can age mate.In some cases one also has to look at the grape variety because it’s natural components are different and every grape is different and has different abilities to age.But high alcohol wines age because of sweetness like Ports which again are made differently and low alcohol wines age because of sweetness.

    Yes good acidity and tannins also play their part.But with dry wines you just have to travel to all the wine regions and taste wines from all the regions and you will find out many reasons like I have done why it’s only really bordeaux that stands the test for over 50 plus years of ageing.It’s the great blending done there,the well structured tannins and great acidity that bring their longevity and they are between 12 and 13 percent alcohol.

    Thanks for the comment.

    Roland

    Sommelier

  11. 11 GrapeRadio Bunch Jul 16th, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    It would be an interesting if the gender approach to wine making could be tested. For example, what is the average alc levels between the two genders?

    Jay

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GrapeRadio is a wine talk show. Show topics cover issues such as the enjoyment of wine, wine news and industry trends - the hallmark of the show is interviews with world class guest (winemakers, vineyards owners, wine retail / wholesale leaders, restaurateurs and sommeliers). The scope of the show is international so expect to hear many guests from around the world.

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