Founder & Co-Owner, Winemaker & Viticulturist
Born and raised in San Luis Obispo, Bill Wathen is a true Central Coast native. He chose to attend Cal Poly University where he graduated in 1975 with a degree in Fruit Science, specializing in vineyard management. After graduation, Bill’s first job was to work for two Santa Barbara County viticultural pioneers — Dale Hampton and Louie Lucas, at the Tepusquet Mesa Vineyard (now owned by Cambria Estate) and the Nielsen Vineyard (now owned by Byron Vineyard.)
In 1978, Bill went north to become vineyard manager at Chalone Vineyard, where he was mentored by California wine pioneer and Chalone founder, Dick Graff. It was here that Bill learned traditional French winemaking techniques and appreciation for great Burgundies. Graff’s influence inspires Bill’s winemaking philosophy to this day. Bill’s approach to winemaking is straightforward as he explains, “It goes back to my roots as a viticulturist. I make every effort to make the perfect wine in the vineyard. Maximized viticulture equals minimalist winemaking.”
Returning to Santa Barbara County in the early eighties, Bill joined long-time friend, Dick Doré, and began making plans to make wine together. He lives in the Santa Ynez Valley with his wife Becky.
Founder & Co-Owner, General & Sales Manager
Life has come full circle for Dick Doré. Born and raised on the family-owned Rancho Tinaquaic, this sixth generation Santa Barbara County resident returned to his roots in 1985 where he established FOXEN Vineyard & Winery with Bill Wathen.
After working as a banker in the late sixties and seventies, this University of California at Santa Barbara graduate gave up his nine-to-five job and moved his family to Europe. Over the next year and a half, Dick traveled the back roads of France, Italy and Spain, where he developed his love of wine. Dick returned to Rancho Tinaquaic in the late seventies, just as the Santa Barbara County wine industry was emerging. With his passion for great wines firmly established, he initially worked to support his family, which included working for the Tepusquet Mesa Vineyard. It was here that Dick and Bill’s paths crossed and a life-long friendship and partnership was established.
Dick makes his home in the Santa Ynez Valley, where he lives with his wife, Jenny. When he is not out “on the road” selling wine and hosting FOXEN events, his free time is spent nurturing his and Jenny’s seven-acre Williamson-Doré Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley and tending his vegetable garden and orchard.
Jenny Williamson Doré
Marketing and California & Florida Sales
Jenny has been involved in the Santa Barbara County wine industry for nearly twenty years in public relations, marketing and sales. In 2001, she decided to step back from her position as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Cambria Winery to devote her full time and energy to Foxen’s marketing and California and Florida wine sales.
Jenny and Dick are settled in the Santa Ynez Valley where they enjoy life as vineyard owners and new “empty-nesters”, now that her youngest is away at college. When she’s not out selling Foxen wines in Florida or California, or volunteering as a Board member of World of Pinot Noir, Jenny can be found in the Williamson-Doré Vineyard looking for pesky gophers.
Born the year Dick and Bill began making wine together in 1985, David Whitehair, began his tenure at FOXEN in 2007. As a “true local boy” who was born and raised in the Santa Ynez Valley, David has Santa Barbara wine country in his blood.
In 2006 David began his winemaking career working harvest for Brander Winery in Santa Ynez and his passion for winemaking was quickly established. His interest to learn more led him to New Zealand to work at Cloudy Bay for their 2007 harvest, and continued his hand-ons winemaking education back to the States where he joined the winemaking crew at Chalk Hill in Healdsburg. David then returned to his beloved Santa Barbara County, and a chance meeting with Bill Wathen led to his immediate hiring at Foxen in the fall of 2007. David became Foxen’s assistant winemaker in 2008 and has continued in that role ever since. David now continues his winemaking education at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria and UC Davis Extension courses.
David sums up his experience at FOXEN as, “a privilege and an honor to be Billy’s apprentice”…and that winemaking, “begins with the vines and soil and ends in the glass. It’s a fine balance between science and art.”
During lunch breaks you can find David running along Foxen Canyon Road training for mountain climbs and marathons. To date he has climbed Mt Whitney three times and run five marathons.
When Becky teamed up with Bill Wathen in 1984, she married into the wine business. College in Santa Barbara at UCSB and then graduate school at UC Berkeley led to her MBA and CPA. She returned to Santa Barbara in 1982 where Dick Dore’s sister set her up on a blind date with Bill. Bill and Dick were already in the early stages of their wine making partnership. A couple of years later Becky asked “Is this a hobby or a business?” and Foxen Winery was founded.
Becky is a self-employed CPA, specializing in the wine industry. She spends most of her working time overseeing things at Foxen, but she has several other winery clients. Becky served multiple terms on the Board of the Santa Barbara County Vintners Association and was a founding member of the Vintners Foundation. Today she heads the Board of Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People.
Becky is a bookworm. She and Bill love road trips and gardening together. They have two grown children who also work in the wine industry.