About Kelley Fox Wines
Kelley Fox Wines is a small winery I created along with my father, Gerson "Gus" Stearns. The first vintage was 2007, starting with just over 100 cases. The annual case production is now just shy of 2000 cases and about 3000 cases for the 2017's, all from the historic Maresh Vineyard and the Demeter-certified biodynamic Momtazi Vineyard (since the beginning).
Starting with the 2017's, there will be a 1980's self-rooted Hyland Vineyard Coury clone Pinot, and a neutral barrel-fermented Freedom Hill Vineyard Pinot blanc.
I've been a full-time, year-round, on-the-floor Oregon Pinot Noir winemaker since 2000. My education includes a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Biology from Texas AM University. I graduated Magna Cum Laude with dual degrees in Biochemistry and Biophysics from Oregon State University and was admitted to the PhD program in Biochemistry.
Before completing the doctorate, I changed my path to pursue winemaking. I learned winemaking not from a classroom or textbooks, but directly from Oregon winemakers who had put in some serious time. I was deeply influenced by my dear friend and former employer, the late David Lett of The Eyrie Vineyards. David was the ultimate iconoclast who pioneered the Oregon wine industry in the 1960’s.
My winemaking experience includes Torii Mor, Hamacher, and Eyrie, and ten years as winemaker at Scott Paul Wines (August 2005 to about mid-April 2015). I now happily work for my own winery exclusively.
There are presently four Pinot noir bottlings and one Pinot gris bottling from my blocks at Maresh Vineyard. There are three Pinot bottlings from Momtazi Vineyard. I made the 2007 through 2014 wines in Carlton. In 2015 and 2016, I produced them in a corner of the beautiful new Maysara Winery building, the estate winery of Momtazi Vineyard. Since 2017, I am making my wines in the original Maysara Winery building, the one I visited back in 2000 when the late Jimi Brooks, my friend, was their winemaker and had some extra Momtazi fruit available to other wineries. It was Jimi who introduced me to Moe Momtazi, his lovely family, and his vineyard.
The wines are made to reflect the land, the vines, the fruit of the vines, the year, and everything else unknown and unseen that comes with those things. That said, the wines are not really "made" at all. I have no end result in mind each year for the what the wines will be. I am not Pygmalion. What I am doing-and it still takes a lot of inner and outer work- is responding to the essence of the fruit from each block, which I hope is carrying the essence of the earth that bore it, along with the details of the year ( the weather, the stars and the planets, etc. etc.).
- Uninoculated (no commercial yeasts)
- Absolutely no enhancements such as and not limited to: colour-increasing/stabilizing enzymes, adds to build the mid-palate(they are in themselves harmless), clarification enzymes, enzymes in general, fining agents, gum arabic, tannins, oak dust, etc.etc. In other words, the only additives are sulfur, and in very warm vintages, food-grade tartaric acid sourced from grapes. And in extremely cool vintages, cane sugar, and not much.
- Ferments are 1 to 1.5 tons in size (very small)
- Each year and each vineyard and each block and fermentor-are treated individually-I have no formulaic “crush protocol” whatsoever.
- I pick on biodynamically-favourable dates-by taste and feel, knowing the vineyards-with little regard for perfect numbers and phenomena such as “ripe tannins”
- 30-70% whole cluster from 2011 through 2014. 100% whole cluster in 2015, and in all future vintages (that are not extremely cold or when I am not feeling it from the fruit)
- No formal “cold soak”, since the fruit is often picked very early in the morning and arrives in great shape
- No pumpovers ( am not implying that pumpovers are unsuitable for wine in general) and always pigeages (I enter my wines with my body to manage the caps-just me and no one else)
- Fermentations from beginning to end range from 12-20 days, depending, as always.
- I do all of the work on my wines personally from picking through bottling, the exceptions being the bottling line and triage during processing. I can’t do those things alone. I do most of the canopy work in my Maresh Vineyard blocks in solitude as well, the exception being pruning. I have been pruning with the crew for some time now. 2.29 acres of these vines were planted on their own roots and dry-farmed, organically, since 1970. One acre was planted on their own roots and farmed the same way since 1978. The rest of my Maresh fruit comes from blocks farmed by Jim Maresh Sr.
- The Maresh and the Momtazi bottlings so far have been 100% free-run. The rest of my Maresh fruit has been coming from blocks Jim Maresh Sr. has personally farmed.
- The wines are pressed at dryness in a modern basket press through 2014 and a pneumatic press 2015 and beyond. Both the free-run and press wine are settled-separately-before barreling down
- Malolactic fermentations to date have been spontaneous
- Bottling is about 10 months post-picking and on biodynamically-favourable dates
- Most often I don’t rack my wines once the barrels are filled at harvest until assemblage/bottling
- I used less than 30% new oak in 2007, 2008, and 2009. From 2010 onwards, far less and often none. Zero new oak since 2012 and going forward.
- I personally stir and spray the biodynamic vineyard preparations (using a copper backpack sprayer) many times in the growing season in my blocks at Maresh Vineyard
- I personally top my barrels every 7-14 days
- I pay a lot of attention to the moon and the planets and their always-changing relationships and energy throughout the year-not that I act on it that much in a way that can be articulated-mainly letting things flow with those things instead of trying to counter them
- My wines are deeply loved-I am not kidding-I wish I were, because it sounds so horribly canned/new age/crazy.
- Please understand that the way I do things does not imply that I am against my peers doing things differently or that it is “wrong” etc.
About The Wine Label Creature
In the spirit of not being heavy and serious, the wine label honours the pariah of Oregon Pinot: the humble and mysterious earwig. While they are certainly not pests, these persistent little creatures sometimes dwell between the berries inside the grape clusters here. They can live inside the must for an impossibly long time, too. I always try to rescue them when doing pigeage, and have developed quite an admiration and genuine affection for them. There is no deeper meaning. The label was designed by Peter Ballman.