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02 Nov 2023 | Jessica Martinez


Foxen vineyards and winery had its inaugural vintage in 1985 but the land the winery sits on has been in the family since 1837! The Foxen name is in memory of William Benjamin Foxen an English sea captain and co founder of Foxen winery Dick Dore's great great grandfather who arrived in Santa Barbara in the early 1800s. The land he purchased was a Mexican land grant called Rancho Tinaquaic that was 9,000 acers! This parcel of land was a cattle ranch and Dick's brand was the Anchor you see on the Foxen Labels today. The property has since downsized a bit and is 2,000 acres today.

Founded by Dick Dore & Bill Wathen in 1985. Dick and his wife Jenny Williamson Dore partnered off and set off to be director of sales  for the winery, while Bill became the Director of Winemaking. Bills wife is also heavily involved in the wine industry as a controller for many other wineries as well as being a member of the Santa Barbara Country's Vintners Foundation. 

The first vintage in 1985 was made in an old blacksmith shop on the property. This building was commonly known as the shack and health the winery and tasting room for nearly 20 years. The shack now holds the tasting room for their 7200 Bordeaux blend wines. In 2009 they built a solar powered winery and tasting room to host their Burgundy and Rhone Varieties. The winery is located on Foxen Canyon Road deep into Santa Barbara wine country to the historic Rancho Tinaquaic.

With a 2,000 acer property there is plenty of room to plant vines.

The Foxen Estate vineyards are mostly in Santa Maria and include the Ernesto Wickenden, Tinaquaic Ata, Tinaquaic Bayita as well as the Williamson-Dore vineyard in Los Olivos. 

They also receive fruit from other Santa Maria vineyards: Bien Nacido, Solomon Hills, Julia's, and River Bench. Santa Rita hills fruit comes from Fe Ciega, John Sebastiano, and La Encantada. Happy Canyon fruit is from Vogelzang, Starlane, and Grimm's bluff. 

Our featured wines for our tasting with Foxen wines on Friday November 2nd 2023

Foxen 2020 Pinot Noir "Block 43" Bien Nacido Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley:The Bien Nacido Vineyard is located in the Santa Maria Valley, and Block 43 is planted to Dijon 667 and Dijon 777. The fruit is harvested and whole berry de-stemmed into small, open-top fermenters. The fruit sees a 2-day cold soak before the fermentation process begins, lasting 10-14 days. The wine is aged in 100% French oak, of which a third is new for 17 months. The finished wine is bottled without filtration or fining. 

Foxen 2019 Cuvee Red Jeanne Marie, Williamson-Dore Vineyard, Los Olivos District:This wine is a blend of Grenache and Mourvèdre, grown in the Williamson-Doré vineyard in Santa Ynez Valley. The grapes are hand-harvested at separate times, whole berry de-stemmed, and see a cold-soak maceration for 3 days. The wine is aged around 16 months in 2 and 3-year-old large format French and Hungarian oak puncheons.

Foxen 2020 Pinot Noir John Sebastiano Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills:Using a combination of Dijon 115, Dijon 667 and Swan clones. Soils are shallow loam with limestone. Berries are destemmed into small, open top fermenters followed by a 3-5 day cold maceration. Fermentation is active for 10-14 days. Aged for 17 months in 36% new Francois Freres & Treuil barrels that are medium + toast with toasted heads. No fining or filtration.

Foxen 2020 Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley: Pinot Noir from Bien Nacido and Riverbench Vineyard. Clones are typically a blend of Dijon 115, Dijon 667, Pommard, Swan & 2A0. Grapes are harvest by hand, whole berry destemmed into open top fermenters as individual clonal lots. Fermentation takes about 10-14 days active, with punch downs 2 times daily. The wine is aged 9 months in 228L French Oak barrels, between 1 and 6 years old. Finally, it is racked and bottled without fining or filtration. 

Foxen 2022 Chenin Blanc Ernesto Wickenen Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley:This 3-acre vineyard in the heart of the Santa Maria Bench was planted 43 years ago. Situated in a wind-protected swale at the mouth of Tepesquet Canyon, it is named for Dick's great uncle, Ernesto Wickenden. The grapes are hand-harvested grapes are gently whole-cluster pressed. Fermentation in stainless steel tanks for approximately 45-60 days before then aging in neutral French oak for four months. The wine is bright and lively, and displays notes of citrus, pear and melon, with a long clean “minerally” finish.

Foxen 2019 Cabernet Franc, Tinaquaic Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley:The Heritage Collection is sourced from Foxen's old-vines, dry farmed and sustainably grown grapes in our upper Tinaquaic Vineyard and deserves to be celebrated. This selection of wine is not only extremely limited in production, it also highlights the unique taste profiles and complexities that only these old vines can provide.

Foxen 2019 Chardonnay Block UU Bien Nacido Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley:These Chardonnay vines were originally planted in 1973 with Clone 4 on its own roots in Block UU at the eastern edge of the Bien Nacido Vineyard. The grapes are hand-harvested grapes are gently whole-cluster pressed and fermented 100% in barrel, after which time the wine rests on its lees for 8 months. Malolactic fermentation is discouraged to help this wine retain its natural bright acidity. 

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