Foxen’s Bill Wathen
Fresh out of Cal Poly SLO, Bill Wathen went to work on a couple of vineyards in the Santa Maria Valley. Feeling the cool valley breeze, Wathen was farming at two of the most influential vineyards in SB County, Nielsen Vineyard and Tepesquet Mesa Vineyard. Wathen, a Fruit Science major, worked for Louie Lucas and Dale Hampton, both highly respected local farmers.
As a true farmer, Bill Wathen believes that great wine begins in the vineyard. He prefers to micro manage small production labels from a very select set of vineyards. Foxen Winery is the only purchaser of fruit from the desirable Sea Smoke vineyard because Wathen was contracted as a consultant during its planting. Wathen also contracts with Bein Nacido, where Foxen is able to custom grow their UU Chardonnay block and Block 8 Pinot.
Luckily for Wathen, Foxen Winery also has two of their own vineyards to source from.
The Tinaquaic Vineyard is a 10 acre relic that is planted with clippings from various vineyards in the Santa Maria Valley. That’s right, while other vineyards have custom ordered and hand selected clones, Tinaquaic was planted with the already pruned cuttings that Wathen and partner Dick Dore “found” on late evenings. Needless to say, wines from this vineyard have plenty of character. Their Williamson-Dore’ vineyard is located farther east in the warmer part of the Santa Ynez AVA near Happy Canyon. This is where they grow their Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and their Sangiovese.
Wathen’s standout Pinot Noir; the 2008 Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley has flavors of cherry cola with a nice raspberry finish. The 2008 Syrah from the Williamson Dore’ vineyard received 92 points from Wine Spectator for having full body and depth along with tastes of wild berry, blackberry, and tobacco leaf. Production of Foxen wines ranges from 50 cases of the Sea Smoke Pinot Noir, to 2,300 cases of the Santa Maria Pinot Noir.