Black Kite Cellars

Alfresco “Pooches & Pinot” dog-friendly wine tastings at West Sonoma County hospitality center.

A break in Sonoma County’s summer 2024 heat should occur in time for this weekend’s (July 12th–14th) Pooches & Pinot at Black Kite Cellars‘ handsome Jasper House hospitality center in Freestone. Owners Rebecca and Tom Birdsall invite guests to bring their canine pals for alfresco Chardonnay and Pinot Noir tastings. For the bipeds, anyway. Doggies can expect “healthy treats” and a vineyard stroll.

Mezzanine tasting area at Black Kite Cellars.

Haute-Rustic Design

Even if sipping outdoors, peek inside Jasper House, a haute-rustic reimagining of the former Joseph Phelps Freestone tasting room that will doubtless find its way into a design mag or two. Designer Julie Hawkins of Hawkins Interiors and architect Steve vonRaesfeld aimed for a more residential feel than before. A mid-June session with a friend and the Birdsalls took place on leather sofas in “the living room” (lead photo). Among the other settings for personalized tastings include a gravel patio out front and a mezzanine with hillside views.

Even in summer, it’s often cool enough to enjoy a tasting alfresco.

Estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

One delight of the June visit was the chance to sample a Chardonnay and two Pinots from the estate Jasper Freestone Vineyard (West Sonoma Coast AVA). Planted in 2015, the vineyard, less than 10 miles by car from the Pacific, sits across Bohemian Highway from Jasper House near a ramshackle barn and silo (last pic) I can never resist photographing. The first Chardonnay vintage was in 2018, with Pinot following in 2019.

Estate wines clockwise from top left: Jasper Freestone Chardonnay, Soar Pinot Noir, Jasper Freestone Pinot Noir.

Grapes from several clones went into the flagship estate Pinot; a second, Soar (2021 is the first vintage), focuses on clone 2A. Each compared favorably to Black Kite wines (made since 2005 by Jeff Gaffner) from high-profile vineyards like Ferrington (Anderson Valley) and Gap’s Crown and Roberts Road (both Petaluma Gap).

19th Century Namesake

House and vineyard are named after Jasper O’Farrell, an Irish-born civil engineer and surveyor who laid out much of mid-1800s San Francisco. He also surveyed Marin and Sonoma counties and owned many acres in Sebastopol, Freestone, and Valley Ford.

According to several sources, in the 1850 U.S. census, Jasper O’Farrell was recorded as Sonoma County’s richest resident.

Post-Tasting Pleasures

After tasting, you can explore tiny Freestone (don’t miss Wild Flour Bread if it’s open) before venturing to Occidental, Valley Ford, Bodega Bay, or points beyond. So much to do in West County these days.

Oft-photographed barn and silo near Jasper Freestone Vineyard.

Why go: estate and sourced Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs; West Sonoma County setting. 


12747 El Camino Bodega, Freestone 95472


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