On Sunday Kris and I took a special trip out to Virginia wine country specifically to visit Three Fox Vineyards. As always when visiting wine country, we were accompanied by our wannabe-winery dogs, Owen and Iris. As border collies, you might think their goal in life would be to herd sheep, but ours seem much more content herding vines (and greeting everyone at the winery, and chasing bees, that sort of thing). It's always interesting for us to see how different wineries react to the dogs; we've seen the entire spectrum, from having to tie them up outside, to allowing them to wander in and out of the tasting room (and wine cellar, in the case of North Mountain Vineyard & Winery in the Shenandoah Valley - apparently Owen kept visiting their winemaker while we were up in the tasting room!).
This picture is pretty clearly NOT from the winery (it's actually from Assateague) - no, our camera batteries died, so I have no photographic documentation of our visit to Three Fox. Dezel at Virginia Vine Spot has posted some good pics of Three Fox which can make up for our technical malfunction. I just wanted to post a pic of Owen and Iris since they're so cute.
Anyway, Three Fox Winery passed the "dog test" with flying colors! Not only are they "dog-friendly", but owner Holli Todhunter absolutely loved the dogs, and invited them to come back (presumably with their owners!). She said she would like to get a "winery dog" or two, as the scent helps to keep deer and other critters out of the vineyards.
This laid-back approach is definitely the norm at Three Fox, where they have a croquet set, bocce ball and horseshoes set up for their guests' enjoyment, and tasting room staff wear shirts saying "Will Work for Wine". In fact, the "will work for wine" thing is part of the reason Kris and I wanted to visit Three Fox - they take in volunteers to help out in the tasting room and possibly other duties, and we're considering giving it a shot. True, it's about an hour and 15 minute drive from our house, but I think it would be a pretty fun weekend activity once or twice a month or so.
But first we wanted to taste their wines! They were pouring nine wines the day we visited (it would have been an even 10, but they ran out of "the favorite"). For whites, they had a 2005 Leggero Chardonnay, a 2006 Giacosa Chardonnay, a 2006 Calabrese Pinot Grigio, a 2006 La Boheme Viognier, and a 2006 Appassionata Vidal. My clear favorite of the whites was the Leggero Chardonnay. This no-oak Chard had a great pineapple & citrus nose which leapt from the glass, with both flavors continuing on to the tongue. There was a hint of creaminess to it, but overall it was very crisp and refreshing (the whole "no-oak" thing). This sells for $20/bottle.
For reds, they had a 2005 Il Volpe Sangiovese, a 2004 Il Cigno Merlot, a 2004 Classico Cabernet Franc, and their "port alternative, a 2006 Rosso Dolce Chambourcin (they would have also been tasting a 2005 Alouette Cabernet Franc, but they were sold out). I had another clear favorite on the reds, their Il Volpe Sangiovese. This 89% Sangiovese, 11% Cabernet Franc Super-Tuscan had a nose of fresh berries, cherries and red fruit. This easy-sipping wine had some spice to it, with a brightness and balance that was very enjoyable. This is a good "summer red" - light enough to enjoy when the temperature starts to peak but definitely a red wine at heart. This sells for $22/bottle.
I liked all of their reds actually, which is a unique experience for me at a Virginia winery - oftentimes Virginia reds seem too watered-down, lacking the punch of California or South American reds. It appears as though Three Fox has found a way to create a little bit of Tuscany in Virginia, with the effects carrying over from their Italy-themed tasting room and wine names to the vineyards and wines themselves. Although John Todhunter has only been running his own winery for a few years now, his more than 25 years of winemaking experience really shows through in the final product. I look forward to tasting their Nebbiolo and Sangiovese Reserve once they are released!