Fox Run Wine Philosophy & Vineyard Management

Fox Run Winemaker Peter Bell

For Peter Bell, Fox Run’s veteran winemaker, winemaking should be approached with a deceptively simple maxim: to ‘chase deliciousness’. No matter what style of wine is being produced, Bell emphasizes that each step in the process should be aimed at making the wine increasingly delicious. That may involve leaving a wine alone for a period of time (as with barrel-fermented Chardonnay resting on its lees) or intervening on an almost daily basis (as when a 5-component bottling of Riesling needs its final blending).

It is the approach pursued by many great European and New World domains. After hand-harvesting of the grapes at their maximum maturity and sorting, handling is kept to a minimum. After pressing, wines are filtered as little as possible to allow for the true character of each grape variety to shine through. Quality is coaxed, not wrestled, out of the grapes.

Fox Run Vineyards

The vineyards of Fox Run benefit from a number of factors — location, soil composition, and effective and innovative management. Seneca Lake, if not quite the longest of the Finger Lakes, is the deepest and largest in terms of volume. This fact provides Fox Run with a favorable mesoclimate — the lake moderating the temperature extremes of winter and summer and providing a buffer against spring and fall frosts. The cold winter months require packing soil tightly around the vines’ graft union, followed by careful pruning in spring. But it is the relatively warm winds coming off the lake in winter that insulate Fox Run from significant frost damage.

Vineyard practices adhere to the Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Tier III conservation plan set forth by the Finger Lakes Agricultural Advisory Committee. High on the list is the prudent application of Integrated Crop Management and Integrated Pest Management principles. Maintaining a healthy lake environment is a passionate priority for the Fox Run team.

Fox Run Vineyards Vineyard Manager John Kaiser

The vines — all planted on slopes heading down to the lake — are spaced six feet from each other and enjoy excellent air drainage. Spacing and rigorous crop thinning keep yields low, an average of three tons per acre. Keeping vineyards balanced and healthy allows for the production of a flavorful and balanced wine. Sustainable practices such as minimizing sprays are essential.

Wine philosophy

The vineyard team monitors harmful insect populations, responding only when necessary. Sod cover between rows prevents erosion and maintains a more complex ecosystem. The vineyards are surrounded by corn and wheat fields. Old growth trees, including Black Walnut, English Walnut and Oak, punctuate the landscape. Tomatoes, zucchini, spinach, lettuces, swiss chard, potatoes and peppers are grown steps from the winery’s market café. Heirloom garlic was introduced in the Fall of 2012.


Dairy Barn in 1865

Humble Beginings Steeped in History

Fox Run sits high on Torrey Ridge, overlooking one of the deepest parts of Seneca Lake. With fifty acres of east facing vineyards on glacial soils, the winery produces a remarkable range of limited-production, site-expressive estate wines.

For more than a century Fox Run was a dairy farm. Native grape varieties put the Finger Lakes on the map a century and half ago, and French-American hybrids, bred for cold resistance, still have an important niche in the region. But Osborn is convinced that non-hybrid European Vinifera grapes can yield wine excellent enough to put the Finger Lakes in the ranks of the world’s top fine wine producers.

Dairy Barn in 1984

From Dairy Barn To Winery

The first grapes were planted in 1984 and the Civil War-era dairy barn was converted to a winemaking facility in 1990– three years before Scott Osborn took over the helm. In 1996, farther up the slope a new facility was completed with state-of-the-art capabilities and view of Seneca Lake that is unrivaled. Working closely with winemaker Peter Bell and vineyard manager John Kaiser, the Osborn’s are dedicated to a program of minimal intervention winemaking.

Winery in 1984

A State-Of-The-Art Winery

In 1996, a new wine facility was completed with state-of-the-art capabilities and views of Seneca Lake that remain unrivaled. In 2001, architects Jim Durfee and Scott Hemenway redesigned the original dairy barn, creating a new wine center and tasting room that maintains the original rustic character, while taking further advantage of the dramatic panoramic views of Seneca Lake. The original barrel room remains at the heart of the 2001 design, retaining the dramatic timber frame character and soaring space.

Expansion in 2000


in 2000, Fox Run underwent a major renovation. There was an expansion of the Tasting Room, along with the addition of a gift shop and tasting bar.

Expansion in 2012

Family Owned, Poised for Growth

In 2012, Fox Run Vineyards became exclusively family-owned. Scott and Ruth Osborn, together with Kathleen and Albert Zafonte, Ruth Osborn’s sister and brother in-law are setting the course for an exciting new chapter.

"We are redefining our legacy", says Scott Osborn. "The team is tight here. Our acclaimed senior winemaker, Peter Bell, has overseen 18 estate vintages and John Kaiser, our vineyard manager, began developing the vineyards in 1984 – even before I set eyes on this magnificent property. We are all excited about the future here and our focus will center on the signature wines of the estate."

Fox Run today

Redefining the Legacy

Producing 15,000 cases annually, Fox Run Vineyards plantings include: Riesling, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Lemberger, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir.

Current releases include Riesling, Reserve Riesling, Chardonnay, Reserve Chardonnay, Lemberger and Pinot Noir. Fox Run also produces a Meritage blended from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc plus a Blanc de Blancs sparkler made from estate Chardonnay. There are also several wood-aged fortified wines - including a Tawny and Ruby-style Port. Hedonia – a White Port made entirely from Traminette grapes, was launched recently. A trio of Rieslings: The Geology Series, an expression of place, method and time, was also introduced recently.