• The dog days of summer are well-upon us, and one Napa winery is celebrating the season with a new line of wines inspired by its owner's French bulldog, and which will also benefit the ASPCA. Frenchie the French Bulldog is owned by Raymond Vineyards' Jean-Charles Boisset and his wife, Gina Gallo. Portraits of Frenchie in label-themed costumes adorn each of the Frenchie Winery bottlings—2009 Frenchie Napoleon red blend, Louis XIV Cabernet Sauvignon and soon-to-be-released Marie Antoinette white blend—with $1 donated to the ASPCA for each of the $30 bottles purchased (Boisset says a minimum of $5,000 will be donated). Boisset and Raymond Vineyards aren't just helping out man's best friends by supporting the ASPCA, either: Frenchie Winery features a tasting room at Raymond designed specifically for dogs. It offers five kennel spaces for visiting pets with dog beds made from wine barrels and an outdoor play area. Human visitors to Raymond's main tasting room can keep tabs on their pups via the doggie-cam. This Saturday, Frenchie Winery's first ever "Bark-B-Que" ($25 for adults; no charge for dogs) will offer plenty of food and wine, and a mobile pet groomer, with a portion of the proceeds donated to the Napa Humane Society.
• It's also car-racing season, with Napa vintners Fred Schrader and Kevin Buckler having recently finished third at the Aston Martin Le Mans race in France. Now an Italian Formula 1 racer has brought his wines to the States, adding to the pile-up of racing stars turned vintners. The 2004 Monaco Grand Prix champion, Jarno Trulli has brought his range of Amarone-style wines from Abruzzo to the U.S. this year. Trulli founded Podere Castorani with his former F1 manager, Lucio Cavuto, and the racing vigneron team has employed some of its Formula 1 expertise in the winemaking process: Trulli and Cavuto called on Toyota Formula 1 engineers to help with the design of the humidity-control system used at the winery for drying their Montepulciano and Trebbiano grapes in the Amarone tradition. The winery and its grapes are both certified organic, and the Castorani wines are increasingly available in the U.S. for $14 to $80.
• Another Italian winery making its mark here in the U.S. this summer is Kris, from Alto Adige. Kris owner and winemaker Franz Haas recently gave $25,000 in grants to support art education in American schools. The grants, for which Haas partnered with non-profit organization Americans for the Arts, were parceled out based on votes for most deserving K through 12 public schools on Kris Wines' Facebook page. Washington state's Kenmore Elementary received the first-place $5,000 gift, with five more schools receiving $2,000 and another 10 receiving $1,000. Kris wine labels feature the work of contemporary Italian artist Riccardo Schweizer, who died in 2004, meaning Haas may indeed be investing in Kris' future, as these grant recipients may some day be needed if Haas ever runs out of Schweizer sketches.
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