THE FOX BARN MARKET AND WINERY
The Fox Barn is a new venture for Kellie Chase Fox but her families have been rooted in the agricultural richness of Oceana County for many years. The Chase family homesteaded in the county five generations ago in 1869. They raised dairy cows and row crops, and then moved on to farming fruits and vegetables. Kellie’s grandfather Miles Chase started a processing plant for frozen fruits and vegetables. Her parents, Michael and Lorraine Chase expanded and then sold the business in 2009 prior to their retirement. When Kellie married Todd Fox in 1991 she became part of another long-time family.
Todd’s great-grandfather, NJ Fox was raising three sons on a small farm in the 1930’s and 40’s. World War II called the two oldest, Floyd and Ralph to duty as pilots. Roy, the youngest of the sons and Todd’s grandfather continued to help his father with deliveries to the farmer’s market in Chicago. NJ started to invest in more farms so that all three of his sons would have jobs when peace was declared. In 1947, NJ Fox & Sons Inc. was formed. Each of NJ’s sons had a son of his own: Bruce, Tom and David became the third generation owners. Over the years, there have been a variety of ventures but fruit farms and asparagus fields have always been the mainstay.
Todd joined the firm after graduating from Michigan State University and he and Kellie purchased the company in 2013. Current operations include farming and handling of fruits – apples, cherries, peaches, pears, raspberries, and wine grapes and some vegetables including asparagus on 1700 acres.
So how did The Fox Barn start? When Todd asked Kellie and the kids to sell fruit outside the barn in a makeshift stand designed from grower boxes, it was an experiment. Things went well and it wasn’t long before Kellie asked to use the barn. A corner of the barn was cleaned and fresh fruit was packaged and sold in that small space. The kids learned to count change and people kept coming. Todd got a deal on a walk-in cooler and that eliminated the need to haul fruit back and forth to town every day. In 2007, local honey, maple syrup and jams were added to the produce. Sometime that summer, Todd casually mentioned to a friend his idea of adding a winery to the mix. Encouraged by his friend’s enthusiasm, he suggested it to Kellie. Neither had any experience with winemaking but Kellie was eager to learn. The licensing process began that fall and Kellie dove in to becoming a winemaker via books, conferences and discussions with others in the business. Her first batches were made at home and shared with family and friends. The Fox Barn became a licensed winery in June 2008.
The Fox Barn offers many locally produced food items too, fresh produce in season, wine-themed gifts and other trinkets. Wine tastings are always available when the barn is open from May through October. Adults can also enjoy a glass or bottle of wine and share a cheese and cracker snack with family and friends on the outdoor patio. We hope you enjoy visiting us.