Born and raised in Santa Barbara, Blair Fox is a local through and through. His family has deep ties to the community, he went to Santa Barbara schools, his entire friend base is from here. As a teenager he played water polo for Santa Barbara High, hung out at Butterfly Beach and went to local house parties. He also started brewing his own beer to bring to them, a hobby that developed into a significant passion by the time he was going off to college.
Looking back, Blair sees his eventual career in winemaking as the result of a happy accident, especially considering his first foray into fermentation science was brewing beer. He’d been playing water polo at UCSB when his team found themselves without a coach, causing him to transfer to UC Davis to play there. He started as a biology major, looking to go pre-med, but by sheer happenstance he also found himself in an elective viticulture class at the famously agriculturally focused university. He immediately fell in love with grape growing: it was science based, appealing to his interests in the systematic study of structure and the behavior of the physical and natural world, and, beyond that, the Santa Barbarian in him couldn’t help but relish getting to spend so much time outside. Shortly after deciding to be a viticulturist, Blair realized grape growing was just the start of the process, so he expanded his studies with enology classes, graduating from Davis with a combined degree in viticulture and enology.
While the lure of the Sonoma and Napa regions was appealing, Blair always wanted to come home. A job with Fess Parker Winery was his ticket, and one that would eventually develop into the head winemaker position that he now holds there. Later, using grapes from his family’s estate vineyard, he and his wife Sarah (also a Santa Barbara native) started the Blair Fox Cellars label, opening their first tasting room in Los Olivos in 2010. Blair Fox Cellars grew out of Blair’s passion for Syrah and is very vineyard focused, with a deep dig into Rhone varietals. Blair also began making a lot of Pinot Noir in his role at Fess Parker, triggering a desire to create a second personal label, Fox Wine Co., that would focus on different varietals (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon). In 2013, Blair and Sarah opened a tasting room in the Funk Zone to be the face of Fox Wine Co.
With the launch of their new space in the Waterline, Blair and Sarah are excited to for the first time offer both of their labels in the same space. Patrons will be able to enjoy the more open varietals of Fox Wine Co. as well as Blair Fox Cellars’ more specific and focused offerings. It’s their goal that this new tasting room will provide an intimate experience to wine lovers, as Blair and Sarah are not only the owners and the wine makers, but also the tasting room managers. While you’re working your way through a tasting, it’ll not be uncommon for Blair and Sarah to personally be describing the exceptional wines they put forth. Their passion seeps into all aspects of their business and they have the ability and desire to keep the operation small and maintain control over each aspect of the business.
Needless to say, as locals with strong roots here, Blair and Sarah are thrilled to be part of the community driven concept that is the Waterline. Blair’s parents have known Norbert and Brigitte of the Nook for 30 years. Pete of Lama Dog is one of Blair’s good friends. He loves Topa Topa beer and is looking forward to sharing space with brewers that he has so much respect for, given the fact that he considers himself somewhat of a beer aficionado. After all, in his teenage years Blair, brought people together by making beer. And although he’s now content leaving beer in the hands of others, Blair and Sarah continue to bring something special to the party: they've got the wine covered.