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Wine Scene: Freehand wine pairs well with architecture, design

Winery owners are as different and distinct in their interests and talents as the wines they produce. How they showcase their expertise and personalities shapes the brand and the experience.

Freehand Cellars, one of the Yakima Valley’s newest wineries combines two specific art forms, design and winemaking. Together they create an individual statement for the winery.

Seattle natives Edwardo Oliveira and James DeSarno are proficient in creating a personal statement for real estate and architectural design. Oliveira works in commercial real estate and is founder of, a web-based real estate company. James DeSarno, an architect with Seattle based D3 Architects specializing in custom residential and commercial design is passionate about giving properties new life with his design skills. Their combined interests led them to the Yakima Valley in search of a real estate project in wine country that would allow them to showcase their craft.

“They were initially looking for lodging,” said Karissa Brandhagen, Freehand Cellars general manager. “They found a property with a beautiful view, agricultural setting and easy access from Interstate 82; it even had a winery on-site. They saw the potential to add additional lodging, and felt it was a great opportunity, so they jumped on it.”

A complete remodel resulted in two beautiful Airbnb rentals just steps away from a completely renovated tasting room.

Not only is Oliveira and DeSarno’s artistic expression seen in the tasting room, their passion, architectural impression, is featured on each bottle of Freehand Cellars wine. The labels depict a rendering of a famous building whose architecture resonates with them.

The wine offers an interpretation of how the building’s characteristics translate to what is in the bottle. Take for example, Seattle’s Rainier Tower, which graces the label of the 2017 Freehand Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon ($28). The Rainier Tower, inspired by ancient traditions and modern techniques, rises from an 11-story base that tapers toward the ground. The wine is structured and elegant, much like the Rainier Tower. It opens with light spice and black currant on the nose. Flavors of dried fruit and tobacco shine with great balance and good tannins.

The 2018 Freehand Cellars Oaked Chardonnay ($22) displays a rendering of Notre Dame du Haut, a small chapel in Ronchamp, France, on its label. The architecture offers a modern, sculptural form with thick masonry walls on the main structure. The wall and strong architecture are similar to the balance and structure of this wine. The aromatics include stone fruit and pear. The palate reveals flavors of peaches and minerality. The wine has good balance, structure and acidity.

Freehand Cellars itself sits on a southern hillside affording visitors a spectacular view of the area’s farmland.

“The property is an ideal venue for holiday parties and private events,” Brandhagen said. “We are currently booking now for holiday parties this winter and weddings next spring.”

As for the Airbnb rentals, Freehand Cellars Vineyard House Suite A can accommodate six guests with two bedrooms, four beds and two baths. Freehand Cellars Vineyard House Suite B houses four guests with one bedroom, three beds and one bath. Both properties feature a private hot tub, barbecue, full kitchen, living room and view.

Freehand Cellars is located at 420 Windy Point Drive in Wapato. The tasting room is open from noon to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit

Barbara Glover is executive director of Wine Yakima Valley, an industry group representing member wineries. She writes this twice-monthly column for SCENE.

Barbara Glover is executive director of Wine Yakima Valley, an industry group representing member wineries. She writes this twice-monthly column for SCENE.

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