By Frank Britt
THREE FOX VINEYARDS
A Bit of Tuscany in the Heart of Hunt Country
At the entrance to Three Fox Vineyards are three stone foxes–Giovanni, Della and Milano. Why Italian names? Because the winery is a bit of Tuscany in the heart of Northern Virginia’s hunt country, offering visitors a taste of La Dolce Vita.
The winery is just off Route 17 going north towards Paris in Fauquier County’s historic Mosby Heritage Area. Cross the bridge over Crooked Run (which parallels Route 17), and wander up the lane to Three Fox Vineyards. Continue on for about half a mile and you will arrive at the charming cottage-like Tasting Room which is surrounded by gardens, patios and fountains, just like in Italy.
Three Fox, with an Italian focus and a bit of the south of France thrown in, is a 15-acre vineyard planted in the Italian varietals Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Pinot Grigio, as well as Viognier, the main white wine grape of the Rhone Valley. Cabernet Franc and Merlot, both of which are grown in many parts of Italy and France, are also estate grown at Three Fox. The vineyard was first planted in May 2002 and annual production is currently around 2700-3000 cases. The estate grape harvest comes in at between 30-35 tons. Three Fox is in the prestigious “Middleburg Virginia” American Viticultural Area (or “AVA”).
At Three Fox Vineyards, you can relax and enjoy award winning wines in the large picnic meadow alongside Crooked Run or at one of many outdoor tables close by the Tasting Room. Some are actually in the vines, or on the two patios that are tented and heated in the winter. For those enjoying the meadow there are picnic tables and creekside hammocks.
The Tasting Room offers a number of different wines for your selection, including:
Leggero Chardonnay (a non-oaked, crisp Chardonnay)
Calabrese Pinot Grigio (made in a modern, flavorful style now popular in Italy) L
a Boheme Viognier (a silky, tropical fruit laden, old world style Viognier)
Gatto Bianco (off dry, crisp white blend, citrus center, and tends to finish dry)
Cano Pazzo Rosé (dry Sangiovese based Rosé)
Signor Sangiovese Reserve (pure Sangiovese from the best barrel batches)
Volpe Sangiovese (a smooth, flavorful super-Tuscan style blended Sangiovese)
Piemontese Nebbiolo (rich, supple, complex with red fruit and spice notes)
Trovatella Merlot (a “right bank” Bordeaux styled blend of Merlot and Cab Franc)
Alouette Cabernet Franc (pure Cab Franc as it’s meant to be – rich, robust and elegant)
Rosso Dolce (a “split” size of a semi-ported Chambourcin, a black forest cake in a glass)
In addition, Giacosa Springlot Reserve Chardonnay by the bottle is available for purchase. This is a recent platinum medal winner (90+ points) and an absolute delight on the palate. Three Fox also has a “guest wine” which is Claude Thibaut’s outstanding Thibaud – Jannison Virginia Sparkling Chardonnay. Tasting it blind, one would swear it’s a French champagne.
Three Fox’s founders, John and Holli Todhunter, have a love of food, wine, travel. John is the winemaker and Holli is the vintner (wine grower). After study and hands-on training in various venues, they designed and planted their first commercial vineyard involvement on a friend’s land in Upperville in 1998. In 2001 they acquired the undeveloped property that became Three Fox Vineyards.
The winery is just a short drive (about 1 hr 20 min) from downtown Washington, DC or about 45 minutes from the I-495 / I-66 interchange. Hours of operation for public tastings are 11 AM to 5 PM daily, except Tuesday and Wednesday, and 12 Noon to 5 PM on Sundays. “Last call” is typically around 5:15. Three Fox welcomes organized groups by reservation. They are dog and child friendly, so bring the family!
Light fare is available for purchase (sausages, cheeses, crackers) for an impromptu picnic. Guests may bring your own food, but as required by ABC, no alcohol is permitted except Three Fox wines. The many tables and other seating facilities are reserved for guests who are enjoying Three Fox wine. Most Saturdays and holidays in season there is live music. Check the website or their ad in this section for a schedule of special events.
You can find some Three Fox wines at Wegmans in Gainesville and in Dulles Town Center. October is Virginia Wine Month and Three Fox Vineyards is annually the “winery of the month” at the luxurious Salamander Resort in Middleburg. On Sunday afternoons in October enjoy a tasting in their “Gold Cup Bar”.
Three Fox Vineyards Pasta e Fagioli
(Pasta and Bean Soup)
This is a traditional Northern Italian version of pasta and bean soup. It’s an easy to prepare “comfort” recipe, perfect for this time of year. Pair with some great bread and a bottle of either Three Fox Gatto Bianco or Volpe. Serves 4. Total preparation time is 30 to 40 minutes.
2 lbs Cannelini beans (canned)
4 Carrots, diced
4 Stalks Celery, diced
1 Medium Onion, chopped
4 cups Chicken stock
(Knorrs works great. Use vegetable stock for vegetarian version.)
Small can tomato paste
½ Cup Ditalini pasta (very short tube pasta)
To simmering stock, add the beans, carrots, celery, and onion. Simmer for 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon pull out about ¼ cup of the beans (some of the vegetables may come with the beans). In a sturdy bowl mash the beans into a paste. Add this back to the simmering soup and stir well; let simmer over low heat for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently. The starch from the mashed beans helps thicken the soup, which should have a nice creamy consistency when done). Add the ditalini and continue to simmer for 10-12 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons of the tomato paste. This can be done by pulling a generous teaspoon from the tomato paste and then stirring this into the soup to dissolve the paste (do this twice). The color should become pumpkin-like when enough tomato paste has been added. Check the consistency and if not thick enough for your taste, continue to simmer over low heat with constant stirring. Ladle into soup bowls.