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, all from the historic Maresh Vineyard and the Demeter-certified biodynamic Momtazi Vineyard (since the beginning).
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 three wines: the Maresh Vineyard Pinot Noir, the Momtazi Vineyard Pinot Noir, and the Mirabai Pinot Noir. Starting with the 2014 vintage there is a fourth; Maresh Red Barn Blocks. With the 2015 vintage, there will likely be an additional bottling of Maresh Vineyard and up to two additional bottlings of Momtazi Vineyard. I made the 2007 through 2014 wines in Carlton. In 2015, I produced them in Maysara Winery, the estate winery of Momtazi 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)
- No formal “cold soak” since fruit is often picked very early in the morning and arrives in great shape
- Typically no pumpovers 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 11 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.
ABOUT Gerson Stearns (GM)
Gerson Stearns, who came on board in 2016 (who also happens to be my brother), helps run the winery as the General Manager. Gerson brings with him over 20 years of high-level corporate experience in managing all business/administrative functions for major international law firms. Before that, he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting. However, in 1993, while working as a bottom-level courier trying to avoid getting a serious job, he accidentally ran the company truck through the glass window of the company's headquarters and from that point forward, he held a desk job. Along the way he managed the offices for Winston & Strawn in New York/Los Angeles and Bingham McCutchen where he worked out of Los Angeles, San Fransisco and New York managing all the domestic offices in the US. In 2014, he checked out of that corporate world moving out of New York and embarking on a self-imposed exile with his family to the island of Malta, specifically the island of Gozo, to re-evaluate the rest of his future. As it turns out, running a small winery with his sister was the perfect call.