Boisset launches Napa’s first “dog winery”

Jean Charles Boisset has launched Napa Valley’s first “dog winery” featuring kennel spaces and wine-barrel dog beds in tribute to his wife’s French bulldog.

Frenchie the French bulldog. Credit: CeliaSue Hecht

Frenchie Winery, named after the bulldog he gave to wife Gina Gallo, forms part of Raymond Vineyards; a St Helena winery Boisset bought three years ago.

Housed in a large white shed at the back of Raymond’s biodynamic garden, the winery boasts an enclosed play area for visiting pooches, and five individual kennel spaces for them to sleep, complete with wine-barrel beds.

Above the kennels hang paintings of Frenchie in various historical guises, from Napoleon and Louis XIV to Marie Antoinette.

The kennels at Frenchie Winery

Boisset has also installed a “Frenchie cam” in the shed, so owners can keep an eye on their dogs while they’re in the Raymond Vineyards tasting room.

“It’s like daycare, it’s awesome,” dog owner Elizabeth Schroeter told Elin McCoy of Bloomberg during a recent visit.

“We treat the dogs the same as humans. I want to create tasting places where people – and dogs – can have a blast,” Boisset added.

The Frenchie range comprises three wines: Marie Antoinette Chardonnay ($18), Louis XIV Cabernet Sauvignon ($30), and Napoleon ($30) – a red blend.

The labels feature paintings of Frenchie dressed up as the three historical figures.

Boisset’s move is shrewd, aiming to attract a portion of America’s 46 million dog owners that don’t want to leave their canines at home when they go wine tasting.

Dog-friendly wineries are already popular in California, with Napa Valley boasting 96 that welcome four-legged friends.

Burgundy-born Boisset looks after the American arm of Burgundy-based wine empire Boisset Famille des Grands Vins, founded by his father in 1961.

In 2009, he married Gallo’s chief winemaker Gina Gallo, cementing one of the most powerful wine family unions in history. The pair have one-year-old twin girls.

Boisset’s latest project is JCB #3, a $123 Pinot Noir blend made of grapes from Sonoma’s Russian River Valley and Burgundy’s Côte de Nuits.

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