Three Fox Vineyards Profile
Written by Brian—Jun 10, 2014
Fauquier County was once home to the densest population of wineries in Northern Virginia. It has since been overtaken by Loudoun County in numbers, but Fauquier still contains a concentration of some of Virginia’s finest craft wineries. Three Fox Vinyeards added to this number when they opened for business back in 2004, and quickly positioned themselves as innovators and producers of quality wines consistent with the County’s reputation.
John and Holli Todhunter had a longstanding desire to open a winery. Twenty-nine years ago, shortly after they met, they decided that one day they would make wine. They planted their first vineyard back in 1998 with a friend. This only reinforced their desire and it was only four years later that they finally realized their dream.
When John and Holli planted their first grapes in 2002, they became one of the few vineyards in the state to concentrate on Italian varietals. To enhance the probability of success, they partnered with Barboursville Vineyards in Central Virginia, who pioneered cultivation of these varietals back in the 1970s. Today they have about fifteen acres under vine and produce about 3000 cases of wine each year. There are no immediate plans for more acreage, but John explained that the “new estate vineyards are going to have their first harvest his year,” which will increase production by about thirty percent. Ultimately, John pointed out, the goal is to achieve “5,000 to 6,000 case production, a loyal following, and good retail distribution in Northern Virginia and DC."
Three Foxes is located on 50 acres in northwestern Fauquier. It’s a beautiful property that can draw a decent crowd on most weekends. The tasting room is a small, cute space, but in fairer weather, much of the activity moves outdoors. There is a tented space used to disperse crowds of tasters and the winery operates a GCWD (golf cart wine delivery vehicle). The cart is used to serve visitors relaxing in some of the more remote corners of the property. One such popular retreat is the meadow down by the creek, which offers opportunity for wading and dogs can run free off leash. Up closer to the tasting room, Three Fox is famous for its lawn games. Bocce and Cornhole are two of the most popular and the winery frequently hosts tournaments. So there’s a lot going on.
But the main event is the wine and John is the winemaker. He trained initially as a biochemist with an extensive extensive background in yeasts. While in graduate school in Santa Barbara, he also trained in winemaking with a friend. After a long hiatus, he underwent further training with Jim Law and Tom Payette, who are huge names in the Virginia wine industry. For the first few years, Payette acted as a winemaking consultant and still helps out when needed, but John is the sole winemaker. His background and the influence of Law and Payette are evident in the quality of the Three Fox wines.
As I said earlier, Three Fox is known for their Italian varietals, but they have a few other tricks up their sleeve. There were twelve well-crafted wines on the tasting menu, but a few really stood out. My favorite white was the Gatto Bianco (white cat) which is a Viognier/Chardonnay blend. There were elements of both varietals with strong tropical and pear notes and a finish that just kept going. I enjoyed the Sangiovese and Nebbiolo, but the recently released 2012 Cabernet Franc was worth writing home about. It was full of cherry and berry notes. There was also a little chocolate and a bit of spice in the finish. It’s easy to understand how this wine won Silver in San Francisco. It’s an exceptional Virginia Cab Franc.
So Three Fox is a beautiful venue with great wine that encourages visitors to linger. What more of an invitation do you need on a nice weekend afternoon. You just can’t go wrong. Stop by and check it out for yourself.