Behind The Vines: Kelley Fox

Kelley Fox wines winemaker harvesting grapes

Kelley Fox Wines was born in 2007 from the immense passion for winemaking in the hearts of Kelly and her dad Gerson “Gus” Stearns. The talented family has called the Willamette Valley home for twenty-eight years, and they know the prestigious viticultural area like the back of their hands. 

If you thought you knew Oregon’s Pinot Noir, you’re in for a surprise. Kelley Fox wines are biodynamic and made with the most remarkable grapes from the Dundee Hills, McMinnville and the Eola-Amity Hills. “Responding to the essence of the fruit from each block” is Kelley’s hands-off philosophy, and the result is more than outstanding. Kelley worked with the larger-than-life David Lett of The Eyrie Vineyards before undertaking her own vinous adventure, and you can tell.
The Terroir

The vineyards tended by the talented team at Kelly Fox are planted with old vines, the oldest going back to 1970, in Dundee Hills. We’re talking about historical sites that have seen Oregon rise as a wine powerhouse from day one. Working with the most committed grape growers in the region has allowed the winery to produce wine of the highest quality, carefully selecting grapes that meet their style each and every year. 

From the marvelous Freedom Hill Vineyard benefiting from the cool coastal breeze to vines at Dundee planted at elevations of up to 700 feet. The curated selection of vineyards sourced to make Kelly Fox’s wines is proof that only from great sites can you make great wine. 

The Philosophy

You won’t see packs of commercial yeast anywhere at Kelley Fox; the wines here ferment naturally with ambient yeast. The wine is produced with no additives or enhancers, but the slightest use of sulfur to stabilize the wine. 

The wine is made mainly with whole clusters, and there’s little intervention from grape to bottle. Of course, Kelley gets her hands dirty, from pruning the vines and harvesting the grapes to supervising the fermentation; she does it all. After ten months from harvest, including time spent in 30% new oak, the exceptional wine is ready to hit the shelves. 
Kelley Fox Winery produces as few as 2700-3000 cases annually, which is not much, even by micro-winery standards. What you get is exclusive and contemplative wine worthy of any wine collection. So, are you ready to meet the wine? 

The Wine

Kelley Fox, Nerthus 2020

Kelley makes this lovely pale pink wine with 75% old-vine Muscat from Eola Springs Vineyard and 25% Pinot Gris. Hand-crafted from start to finish, the particular wine is bone dry and offers the most alluring floral scents and fluttering citrus peel aromas with apricots on the palate and a lifting acidity that runs into the aftertaste. Fresh, clean and expressive, this is not your everyday Muscat — it’s Kelley’s version of the ancestral grape. Enjoy chilled as an apéritif and with canapés. 

Kelley Fox, Willamette Blanc 2020

Made with 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay, Kelley shows her skills, pressing the thin-skinned red grape to get a pure white wine. Willamette Blanc offers the faintest oceanic scents coming through, along with sweet citrus blossom scents and tart strawberries over a mineral palate with hints of brioche. An outstanding wine with oily fish, like salmon and trout, this is quite a unique white expression of Oregon’s terroir. 

Kelley Fox, Freedom Hill Pinot Blanc 2020

Pinot Blanc might just be the new thing at Willamette, and Kelly’s version is proof of it. The mineral, pale wine offers the most exciting floral and mineral notes over a rich palate featuring the most subtle hints of neutral French oak. An authentic rarity, Kelly Fox only released 250 cases of this unique white that’s wonderful with roasted poultry and fried finger food.