After starting the day by tasting 12 wines with Ethan, it appeared I was the only one using the spit bucket at which point I threatened the first person to pass out in the van gets covered in magic marker tattoos. Luckily enough another legendary hub for grinds was around the corner and we all cranked down pig sandwiches at Sides, an old school restaurant that once was the local hardware store. Full and yappy we turned the parties attention to Santa Maria Valley and Foxen vineyards. Owned by Dick Dore and winemaker Bill Wathan the Foxen boys have been cranking out the best the valley has to offer for 30 years. 5 years ago these crazy kids opened a new world class solar fueled winery up the road from the original Foxen shack on Foxen Canyon Road. We were greeted with open arms and livers by Dickie and Bill at the new tasting room and ushered directly to the barrel room for a palate pleasing dance of all of their single vineyard pinots from 2013 from barrel. An amazing experience to listen to Bill who researched and found many of these vineyard sites as we tasted through each wine and explored the differences in all of their aspects. As we eased our buds through the tasting of the Julia’s pinot I overheard another young lady on the tour whisper the wine gave her goose bumps, to which Dickie announced “Goosebumps are our business.” Foxen wines are renowned for their textural qualities and typical fruit flavors that one only derives from Santa Barbara. One of the larger wineries we visited on our tour, yet with 28 different wines per vintage and a total production of 18,000 cases to say this is a mass producer would be the same as saying the LA Clippers should look for right wing ownership.
Definitely a group to overstay our welcome we followed Dickie back to his house in the middle of the Williamson-Dore vineyard where his beautiful wife Miss Jenny was waiting for us with more Foxen juice (chenin blanc, rose, pinots, syrah, etc…) cheeses and jams from around the world and of course Dickie was preparing homemade paella on his outdoor cooker where we were to dine under the stars with the Dore’s and a guest surprise as Bill and Becky joined us as well. Surprise, more wine, who knew. Evidently Bill has decided to come out of his shell after 40 years of winemaking and enthralled us of how he and Dickie met, the drugs that kept them together and the women that made the business work. Always scientific to a point I was enthralled when Bill was describing his steeply terraced vineyards in altitude from “well its starts down there and goes to way up high”, evidently the vineyards weren’t the only things way up high! Finishing the night by the campfire we all got to go rabbit hunting with Dickie on his mule. Yes, it’s as exciting as it sounds but a different level of connotations. His John Deere mule he works the vineyard in, his pellet gun, a bottle of wine, tequila or beer and the first 3 people you can pack in the mule scream through the dark vineyard in search for the elusive white rabbit that has only been spotted once over the years. Needless to say, we came back with no hare other than what was left from the campfire, but stories to last a lifetime.