Bill Wathen and Dick Doré have been making wine together since 1985, when they founded Foxen Winery at the historic Rancho Tinaquaic in northern Santa Barbara County. Their dedication has remained the same since the founding - the creation of very small-production, vineyard-designated wines using a "minimalist" approach to winemaking.
The winery is named in memory of William Benjamin Foxen, an English sea captain and Dick's great-great grandfather, who came to Santa Barbara in the early 1800s. In 1837, this Santa Barbara County pioneer purchased the Rancho Tinaquaic, a Mexican Land Grant that originally totaled nearly 9,000 acres and comprised most of what is now known as Foxen Canyon. Captain Foxen adopted the distinctive "anchor" as his ranch cattle brand, which has become a trademark of the winery. It is very fitting that Foxen Winery makes its home on the 2,000-acre Rancho Tinaquaic that remains in family hands.
"Simply put, I can't recommend these wines highly enough". - Antonio Galloni, July 2014
|APPELLATION(S)||Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Rita Hills, Santa Ynez Valley|
|PROPRIETORS||Bill Wathen and Dick Doré|
|WINEMAKER||Bill Wathen and David Whitehair|
(SUSTAINABLE, ORGANIC, BIODYNAMIC)
Bill Wathen is a viticulturist at heart and by educational training. His delicacy and experience is what has been a major driving force behind the many stellar vintages Foxen has produced. Bill invests enormous amounts of his time in the vineyards and is involved in every step of the wine growing process to ensure the highest possible quality. Bill learned early in his viticulturist career to respect the vine, and let the wines make themselves, with as little intervention as possible.
Foxen's estate vineyards are, as follows:
Williamson-Doré Vineyard - Santa Ynez Valley - Dick and Jenny's estate, was planted by the Foxen crew in 1999. The vineyard blocks are aligned on a true North/South, which maximizes the vines exposure to sunlight. Vine spacing is 8X4, fairly high density, with a Vertical Shoot Positioned (VSP) trellis. The soil here is shallow and heavy, which limits the vines vigor, hence reducing cluster and berry size. Planted to Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah and Sangiovese.
Ernesto Wickenden - Santa Maria Valley - The vineyard dates back to 1966 when it was planted by Dick’s cousin Buddy Wickenden, from budwood brought down from the Napa Valley. The three acre Chenin Blanc site is a small terrace of Elder sandy loam above Tepusquet Creek, which divides the East and West Tepusquet Bench. Because of its lower elevation, Ernesto Wickenden vineyard is protected from the afternoon coastal winds, so it gets a bit more heat summation. This original planting is on a 12X7 spacing, so the vines are enormous and average around 20 pounds of fruit at harvest time.
Tinaquaic Vineyard - Santa Maria Valley - Foxen’s estate ten-acre vineyard was planted by Dick and Bill in 1989 on the Doré family’s historic Rancho Tinaquaic. This is the region’s only dry-farmed vineyard—which means that it receives absolutely no irrigation. Relying on only the water that Mother Nature provides, this estate vineyard must be meticulously farmed with the yields kept at extremely low levels. The soil composition ranges from sandy to clay loam in this hillside vineyard that is perched about 500 feet above the winery and the Foxen Canyon floor. There are currently six acres of Chardonnay and a mere 1.5 acres each of Syrah and Cabernet Franc.
For a complete list of vineyards where Foxen sources fruit from, click here.
In 2009, Foxen opened its new solar-powered winery and tasting room. The beloved and historic "Shack" was renamed Foxen 7200, after the brand's 2nd label, of the same name, which focuses on Bordeaux and Italian-style wines to differentiate from the Burgundy and Rhône-style wines that put the Foxen name on the map.
2019 will mark the 35th harvest for the Foxen Boys Bill & Dick. At the winery, Bill Wathen and David Whitehair are an unstoppable force. They have a sustainable, straightforward, and honest approach to winemaking. Their focus is always on the grape as it arrives on the crush pad during harvest and to intervene as little as possible. Their method included gentle de-stemming and pressing, neutral yeasts and barrels and no fining nor filtering of red wines. As Bill explains, "The job of the winegrower is to record the organoleptic history of the vineyard year in the bottle, with as little fingerprint as possible. If I can accomplish this each vintage, then I have rewarded myself.”