The newest faces in the Funk Zone’s continually exploding tasting room scene near the Santa Barbara waterfront are familiar ones: Blair and Sarah Fox are both born-and-raised Barbareños with extensive résumés in the world of wine, working for labels both bigger — Blair is head winemaker at Fess Parker Winery and its sister brand, Epiphany — and more boutique, as they both toil on their own Blair Fox Cellars, while Sarah also helps Jennifer Tensley on her pinot noir project, Lea Wines. They’re in the wine-growing business, too, with a small vineyard on their family estate in Los Olivos.
“Between the two of us, it’s over 30 years of experience,” explained Blair, and they’re now directing that combined energy to their latest venture, Fox Wine Co., which last week began pouring a variety of wines on the 100 block of Santa Barbara Street. The rustically styled tasting room is located inside the S.B. Art Foundry, where one can either enjoy the usual $10 tasting visit or instead get a free tour of the art-production facility with a glass of Fox Wine Co. pinot or chardonnay included at the end. While you can’t take the wine on the tour, you can explore the extensive retail store while sipping, making Christmas shopping perhaps a bit more tolerable for some.
The Fox Wine Co. bottlings, said Blair, are “a little more loose,” “not as handcuffed,” and generally more affordable than the Blair Fox Cellars wines, which are mainly focused on Rhône Valley grapes and strictly expressions of single vineyards. Instead, Fox Wine Co. is presenting “more elegant, more feminine styles,” typically of lower-alcohol wines, most of which are being made by Sarah herself. Right now on the menu are sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir, the BiN 805 red blend of mourvèdre, grenache, syrah, and cinsault, and a syrah — and all those around $20 or so a bottle — with reserve bottles of a Camp Four Vineyard grenache ($36) and a Buona Terra Vineyard pinot noir from the Sta. Rita Hills ($48).
But the real point of Fox Wine Co. was for Blair and Sarah to come home to the place they grew up and become part of arguably California’s most exciting wine neighborhood. “We’ve just always wanted to get back into Santa Barbara and become part of the scene,” said Blair. “Both of us just love the Funk Zone and its resurrection.”
Fox Wine Co. is now open Thursday-Monday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., inside the Art Foundry at 120 Santa Barbara Street. See foxwineco.com or call (805) 699-6329.