Many wineries are dog friendly, but discovering one whose love of dogs truly influences their wines is the ultimate. Chien Wines, owned by Don and Lindsey Schroeder in Lompoc, CA, is just that. Chien in French means dog, so right off the bat dogs play an important part of this winery. For the Schroeders, they wanted their love of dogs to reflect on the exterior of the bottle while inside one will discover their other love, white wines. What also makes Chien Wines stand out is that they donate a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of their wines to rescues. In the past they donated to Noah’s Ark and now they are donating to the ASPCA.
Don is currently the winemaker at Sea Smoke and as so often occurs in wine country, the winemaker has his/her own label. For the Schroders it is Chien Wines. Don’s family moved to the Lompoc area in 2000 and began growing and producing wines. The family winery is Ampelos Wines. Don over the years worked at various wineries including Babcock, Rideax and Lucas & Lewellan. He joined the team at Sea Smoke under winemaker Kris Curran. When Kris left Sea Smoke to become the winemaker at Foley, it was only natural to have Don become the winemaker.
Don was fascinated with two styles of white wine. One is from the Alsace region of France, Edelzwicker. The other from Austria called Grüner Veltliner. The Schroeders wanted to bring a different wine onto the California market that you would not necessarily find at most wineries. Chien’s first release was the 2007 Edlzwicker. Chien Wines Edelzwicker is a nice dry refreshing wine that pairs wonderfully with fish, chicken or pork. It is made up of Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Gewürztraminer.
This past summer was the first release of the 2009 Grüner Veltliner. They are the third winery in California to produce a Grüner Veltliner.
The two dogs behind the winery are: Bear, a 13-year-old Chow-Chow-Lab mix. This dog was a very shy, timid dog when he came into the Schroeders’ life at age 2. Bear was adopted from the local Humane Society. Becoming Don’s dog, today you would never know he was at all timid, and after meeting Bear one can see that he look more like a brown Lab.
Wanting a dog of her own, Lindsay soon adopted Shady, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever/Chow-Chow mix who is now 11 years old.
Chien Wines are available locally at the Wine House or through Chien Wines direct.
For more info and to purchase their dog-friendly wines:
P.O. Box 2952
Lompoc, CA 93438