Kellie Fox, along with her husband Todd, own the Fox Barn Market & Winery in west Michigan. Their farm is in the middle of the state’s asparagus belt, and asparagus wine is among the many wines displayed at their 1,700-acre orchard and farm near the Silver Lake Sand Dunes.
Todd Fox is the fourth-generation owner of the farm which grows sweet and tart cherries, peaches, pears, apples, plums, blueberries, grapes, and, of course, asparagus. Michigan is the nation’s third-largest asparagus producer.
Kellie and Todd added the market and winery to their farm eight years ago, and make primarily fruit wines from their cherries, peaches and pears. Their blog indicates that the market and winery is located inside an 80 year old barn.
“I will make 600 cases a year, so we’re pretty small,” says Kellie, who claims the inspiration for her zany asparagus wine project was the result of an impromptu challenge by her husband Tom.
“He twisted my arm. He brought home a tub of mashed asparagus and said, ‘Do something with this.’ So I added water and sugar and yeast, and it started fermenting.”
How does asparagus wine taste? “It has a mild asparagus aroma and flavor with a little hint of sweetness,” says Kellie. “And it is really clear.”
Kellie initially experimented by displaying a few bottles of asparagus wine in her winery store, and she was amazed that people actually bought them. She plans a formal launch this year with labels that read: “Odd Fox Wine”. “This year I will be brave and market it more,” says Kelie.
Kellie says her asparagus wine takes about 24 weeks to ferment and age properly before the wine is ready to drink. She has 70 to 90 half bottles of asparagus wine in her stockroom in preparation for the National Asparagus Festival that takes place June 10-12. “I will have a float in the parade announcing the asparagus wine, and it will be for sale at the barn for $16,” she says.
John Bakker, executive director of the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board has never heard of it. “I’d like to get a bottle — at least to keep on my counter,” says Bakker. “I love asparagus, but I don’t know if I’d drink — well, I might try it.”