Freakshow Review: A Review of Michael David’s Most Outrageous Brand!


Freakshow is an up-and-coming brand in the wine industry. Although it is on its way to becoming a huge name, the winery that produces the popular bottles is still very much a family affair. Its founders are brothers David and Michael Phillips who originate from a long line of grape growers. Today, their children have come aboard the family business.

The winery is located in Lodi, which is in the northern part of Californian’s Central Valley. Spanning across 65 acres of top-notch territory for growing grapes, the winery has sustained its high standards of wine production since its inception in 1984. Furthermore, the business operates with the help of a team of highly experienced wine aficionados.

The way the winery itself operates is with significant respect for the land, as well as its region and rich history. Strict rules are governing the winery’s sustainability as its goal is to pass the family business on to future generations to come. From water to soil and natural pest management, everything here is monitored with utmost care. This is to maintain lucrative resources and at the same time ensure they keep their high quality. Likewise, the winery’s infrastructure is mapped out carefully, allowing it to create its own kind of ecosystem.

One of the most notable things here is how biodiversity is encouraged by the growers. Also, they welcome to the farm all kinds of new life, including a family of owls that act as the most dependable pest hunters. These practices may be meticulous but the results speak for themselves with honest and superior products that you will be proud to buy.

The Phillips brothers David and Michael remain running the business. But throughout the years, we saw the winery take on various consolidations and expansions of the brand itself. With more than five different wine collections under its belts that include Freakshow, 7 Deadly Zins, Petite Petit, Earthquake, and Inkblot, the brothers have taken over a massive part of the California market. This covers plenty of wine classes and consumer bases.

Michael David Winery was put on the map by 7 Deadly Zins. Not long after that, Zinfandel became the most popular in the country. New brands began to emerge when they saw a chance to market their other varieties to fans that are already loyal. These additions highlight the other offering of the winery such as Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

It is safe to say that the business truly has become a household name, thanks to its ability to produce around 2 cases of wine every year. But regardless, the entire family will still always want any guest at the Lodi tasting room, where everything began, to feel welcome. The winery features a café, a wine club with 6,000 members, and has special events throughout the year. Hence, it is in itself a massive part of the entire Michael David experience.

California Wine

California being one of the new world wine capitals is not a secret. The American state offers the ideal environment for grape growing. With the breezy coast of California that has year-round moderate temperatures and natural ocean breezes, the setting is perfect for grapes that thrive on cool climates like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Furthermore, it has an especially diverse terrain. And just like with what we see in old-world vineyards, the state’s mountainous regions present bold reds such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon the right mix of drainage, cooling winds, and sunlight.

Michael David Winery is nestled within the rich agriculture of California’s Valley that produces around 8% of the country’s crops. The region is composed of San Joaquin, Sacramento, and Lodi, with the latter having a rich history dating as far back as the Gold Rush. This is the time during the Prohibition period when winemaking at home was considered legal. 

The land itself proved to be a source of riches as the rivers from the Sierra Nevada mountain range provide cool nights as the warmth of the sun bids goodbye. On the other hand, the wet winter and dry growing season offer the soil high minerality. Also, the soil can be stony in the north and clay-based and heavy in the south, depending on the vines’ position. As a result, the climate is just perfect for cultivating rich Merlot, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cabernet.

The growth of Michael David Winery is inevitable, as well as the thriving wine business in Lodi. Because of this, the vineyards have expanded further outside the city limits and into the rolling hills and more mountainous regions. With the conditions here that include excellent drainage and sunlight, it is the best climate to make Zinfandel, the signature wine of Lodi. Regardless of the size of Michael David Winery, you can be assured that its grapes are 100% grown throughout the Inland Valley.

The Freakshow Wines

We saw Freakshow Wines entered the market in 2012. Since then, its production has grown from 5,000 cases to more than 230,000 cases today. The brand quickly made a name for itself for offering quality wines with bold flavors, and of course, along with its distinct packaging. In fact, this year alone, Michael David Winery announced that they are to release Freakshow Maskerade, a Freakshow face filter, which is an example of their clever innovative marketing. 

Initially, Freakshow started as a means to highlight the striking Cabernet Sauvignon of the winery. To date, it remains one of the most popular corks in their lineup. With the evolution of the brand is the addition of new wines. Today, the complete collection includes a red blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Syrah, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay. One can say that their range, which represents every style and flavor, is a real tribute to California wine.

2017 Cabernet Sauvignon

According to the winemaker, you will be amazed by their 2017 Freakshow Cabernet. It opens the act with a bright bouquet of Raspberry, toasted vanilla, and a hint of violet and barbecue smoke. It is full-bodied like the strongman himself while layered tannins give way to rich flavors of ripe black cherry, chocolate mousse, and toasted chestnut.

Out of the Freakshow lineup, this Cabernet is a favorite among wine lovers and is the perfect place for anyone to begin their journey into the world of California wine. It’s a young, medium-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon with bright notes of pepper and raspberry. However, it posses a deep garnet hue. 

Moreover, it is fresh and bold on the palate thanks to the aromas of coffee and cranberry. It is highly advisable to allow this cork to age for a bit to let the red fruit flavors deepen further. Likewise, doing so will let the tannins become silky smooth. 

In terms of the aging process, this wine undergoes a unique one. 40% of it is aged for 13 months in new French ok while the remaining 60% is aged for another 13 months in neutral oak. As a result, the bottle has a strong hit of spice, vanilla, and oak on its finish yet the mouthfeel is rich and will linger long after taking your first sip. 

What’s more, the oak gives the bright fruitiness of the wine with a mellow earthiness. Hence, it pairs particularly well with truffle risotto, mushrooms, or salty cheese for a truly luxurious experience.

2017 Zinfandel

The collection 7 Deadly Zins is what made Michael David Winery a Zinfandel powerhouse. So it comes as no surprise that when it comes to flavor, the Freakshow Zin is a true force. It has all the elements as you would expect from a good Zinfandel as it is very rich with all the concentrated fruitiness. 

The first to reach your the palate is the jam-like fruit. It is then followed by a mild spiciness of vanilla and oak. Although this full-bodied wine has perfectly smooth tannins, its youth presents a distinct brightness as well. And that is something you don’t normally find in a wine of this variety. 

Furthermore, the wine has a richness that almost masks its pungent acidity and high alcohol content. Nevertheless, it offers a complex flavor and texture. You can pair the 2017 Freakshow Zinfandel with dishes that have equally robust flavors. These include the hearty pasta Bolognese, funky cheese, and braised short ribs. Sipping this wine is a delight on its own. But once you pair it with succulent, rich meats or bold flavors, it will truly come to life.

2016 Red Blend

To wine aficionados, California can be often associated with providing an important place to red blends at the table. Although red blends have been criticized at times for not having enough depth of flavor or for concealing grapes of low quality, the popularity of these wines has grown among winemakers looking to produce an entirely unique flavor and a signature cork. 

For an easy-to-drink and smooth wine, the blend of Freakshow comprises Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. Additionally, it is an excellent hostess gift ideas or wine for dinner parties since it can please a lot of palates aside from being exceptionally smooth. 

For its forefront, it combines tobacco, caramel, and sweet fruit. Meanwhile, its splendid peppery finish lends the bold wine more depth. In terms of food pairings, it is extremely versatile. However, it makes a superb accompaniment to pizza, meat, or chili. Make sure to enjoy this bottle young and allow it to air for around one hour before you consume it since giving it a little time will let its flavors flourish.

2017 Petite Petit

Freakshow Petite Petit is yet again another big, bold red in the collection of the brand. Jam-packed with flavors, this bottle is a combination of 85% Petite Syrah and 15% Petit Verdot. You will notice the black fruit coming forward with absolute strength. To round out the plum and jam-like blackberry tastes is smooth tannins and medium acidity. This wine has a subtle smokey finish along with a distinct vanilla aroma. 

Some bottles of this kind have a fruitiness to them that can be overwhelming. However, this Petite Syrah provides a pleasantly dry finish that can please even the biggest crowds. Moreover, this wine’s savoriness and lingering smoke pairs well with meaty flavors such as prime ribs, BBQ, and even a modest eggplant Parmigiano. It can very well stand up on its own. Hence, to truly appreciate this wine’s complexity, take a few sips of it by itself.

2018 Chardonnay

Hidden among all the Freakshow bold reds is a genuine hidden gem. There’s a fresh Chardonnay that can satisfy any wine fan whether they usually drift towards red or white. This lovely wine is crip and fruit-forward and crisp. Even if you’re someone who doesn’t normally drink Chardonnay, you will be surprised in a pleasant way at the subtle oak and brightness of this one. 

Get ready for cinnamon, nectarine, and mango to fill your palate. Meantime, expect the finish to include vanilla and butterscotch combined with a smokiness that you would expect from a good bottle of Chardonnay. It will start off light but its finish is fairly heavy. Nevertheless, it is very dry and does not have enough buttery mouthfeel that other Chardonnays on the market offer. 

This cork has a 67% steel and 33% oak aging process. Hence, it has the ideal balance of richness and brightness. You’ll enjoy pairing it with a nice steak fish like swordfish or salmon. Likewise, it pairs well with a good creamy brie. Again, this wine is an excellent initiation in the California wines, especially if you’re a novice to the new world wines.

Pros And Cons

Michael David Winery’s collection of wines is especially enjoyable and approachable. With its limited lineup that consists of five variants, an ordinary consumer will be able to create a selection based on your previous knowledge. 

On the other hand, wine connoisseurs will find the wine’s complex flavors and precise production methods impressive. Although it’s a little pricier than most, the cost of every bottle is fair and moderate. Likewise, they offer superb value for the wine’s exceptional quality.

If you like your reds big and bold, this range will surely satisfy you to your heart’s content. Plus, with the option Freakshow has, it will be hard for you to go wrong. Along with that, the brand is an amazing example of what Northern California can bring to the table if you’re just starting to explore the world of California wines. 

Fans of other collections from the Michael David winery will definitely appreciate this entertaining wine collection. Of course, we should not forget the fact that you can have a little fun with the engaging Freakshow Maskerade app.

Another thing worth noting if you’re a newbie to massive California wines is that this particular lineup is not for the faint of heart. If you’re someone who prefers Beaujolais, a classic Pinot Noir, and other very light reds or extremely mellow flavors, then the boldness of Freakshow wines may simply overwhelm you. 

Although all corks are pretty dry, they are very much fruit-forward. So they may put you off if you are accustomed to very spicy and tard reds. Likewise, these wines are something that you will probably want to avoid gifting unless the person you’ll give it to is a fan. Aside from the red blend, all bottles possess a pretty strong flavor that may not be for every palate.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of wine is Freakshow?

The Freakshow wine collection consists of five classic California wines, four reds, and a Chardonnay. Two of the brand’s most well-known rich, bold red wines are Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. The other red blends are a cork with very smooth with flavors a bit milder, a well as a full-bodied red. Meanwhile, the Petite Petit is a blend of Petite Syrah and Petit Verdot. Lastly, Chardonnay is a bright white that puts a fruity twist to the classic white.

Who owns Michael David Winery?

The winery is owned by brothers, Michael, and David Phillips. They are the  5th generation, grape growers of the family. Their family has been in the grape and farming business for decades. Today, the brothers run the winery in Lodi, California along with their children.

What is Petit wine?

Petit comes from Petit Verdot, which is a grape that originates from France. It was mainly employed in Bordeaux blends. The grape variety grows in areas with warmer climates where it has time to reach full maturity. 

Petit Verdot grapes that go through a shorter ripening period will result in fruits that are more herbaceous, bitter, and acidic. Meanwhile, those that have time ripen longer will contain flavors of violet and sweet blackberry. Freakshow combines Petit Verdot with Petite Syrah, which is a bolder red, to produce a very rich, beautiful, very fruit-forward blend

Is Petite Petit a sweet wine?

The pretty fruit-forward Petite Petit by Freakshow is a blend of Petite Syrah and Petit Verdot. It includes notes of black cherry and blackberry jam. At first, you will identify a hint of sweet fruit on the palate. However, the finish of the wine is dry, cutting the rich fruit. Though this cork is probably the sweetest among the reds of Freakshow, it is still pleasingly dry and not defined as a sweet wine.

Where does Freakshow wine come from?

The Freakshow wines are produced from the Michael David Winery located in Lodi, California. It is an agriculturally rich town found in San Joaquin County near Sacramento. All of Freakshow’s grapes are cultivated in the state of California.


Michael David Winery has proven for many years that it is one of the staples of the California wine industry. They are not afraid to take risks which results in the winery launching distinct brands, showing they can develop and adapt. Although some may find the labels a little crazy, the wines are of high quality and flavorful as what you would expect from a product that comes from a California winery.

If you’re interested in exploring the viniculture of California, this is the wine collection you may want to start with. The lineup is far from boring with bold flavors, spice, and fruitiness. Also, it is especially great for anyone with an adventurous palate. So try these unconventional labels with your family and friends, and you’ll see yourselves becoming fans of the richness that’s inside every bottle.

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