Foxen was founded in the Santa Maria Valley, in Santa Barbara County, in 1985 when Bill Wathen and Richard Dore started making wine. The winery was named after Dore’s great-great grandfather, William Benjamin Foxen, a sea captain who arrived in Santa Barbara in the early 19th century and purchased the property where the winery now stands. Foxen owns 10 acres of vineyards and makes small amounts of Bordeaux blends, Rhone blends, Italian-inspired reds and whites, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Santa Barbara County is not an AVA, but a region just south of San Luis Obispo that includes the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Maria Valley appellations. Wine has been produced in the area since the 18th century when Spanish missionaries planted vineyards. It wasn’t until the 1990s, however, that producers focused on growing premier grapes for fine wines. During the 1990s more than 10,000 acres of vineyards were planted, and today there are nearly 20,000 acres of vineyards. The region received a big bump in recognition and prestige when the popular film “Sideways” was shot there in 2004. Because the region is affected by maritime weather, it is relatively cool climate makes it ideal for Chardonnay. Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and an increasingly adventuresome number of varietals are also grown successfully in Santa Barbara County.
One of the most widely grown grape varieties, it can be found in nearly every wine growing region. A cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a hardy vine that produces a full-bodied wine with high tannins and great aging potential.