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Cru Vin Blends Grapes with Passion for Art (and dogs)

When Mary and Jay Snellgrove sat down with their business partner Bill Foss, the vision they had for their company was one that incorporated friendship, wine, art and dogs. Cru Vin Dogs Wine Group is the result of that collaboration – a wine label that not only celebrates fine art and special dogs, but also pours great wine with a purpose.

The Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University is one benefactor of Cru Vin Dogs, which designates a portion of proceeds from each bottle of wine sold to a variety of animal-centric charities. The Animal Cancer Center is the regional recipient of those proceeds in Northern Colorado.

“Wine is in our blood, and when we started this company we decided to create a brand that revolves around our passions – fine wine, art, dogs, and the desire to give back,” said Mary Snellgrove. “That’s how the whole brand was born – as a combination of our passions.”

The company, which began in 2006, produces premium wines from small vineyard sites primarily in California, New Zealand and Australia. A unique feature of the wines is the original, limited-edition illustrations by artist and partner Jay Snellgrove, a 1981 graduate of Colorado State University, College of Liberal Arts. Each illustration honors a real dog and each dog’s characteristics are represented in its respective bottling. Each dog’s story is told on the company’s website, where patrons also can learn about the Cru Vin Dogs mission and read more about the charities the company supports.

As a part of that work, in June, Jay Snellgrove donated a portrait of Lucky, one of the dogs featured on the Portrait Series, who was a patient at the Animal Cancer Center and a beloved service dog to his owner, Randi Price. Lucky died last year after being diagnosed with a particularly aggressive cancer and his portrait now hangs in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital . “In the Portrait Series, we pick hero dogs with special stories that give back to humanity,” said Mary Snellgrove. “Since we worked with Canine Companions for Independence, we asked them for suggestions. They held an essay contest and when we read Randi’s story, there was no question as to whose hero would be on our next label. The strength of their relationship was so apparent – it was a whole love story. We got to spend time with Randi and Lucky, and could see what a very, very special dog he was.”

In addition to the Animal Cancer Center and Canine Companions for Independence, other beneficiaries of Cru Vin Dogs include Morris Animal Foundation’s Canine Cancer Campaign, and local animal shelter and rescue groups. For Mary Snellgrove and her partners, a large part of the joy in doing what they do comes from giving back to the community.

“These last few years have been the most fulfilling years of my life,” said Snellgrove. “I’ve learned so much about the organizations we work with, and learned about the work they do: animals helping humans and humans helping animals. I feel honored; I feel so satisfied; it’s been wonderful. Now, as our partnership is growing with the Animal Cancer Center, I am getting to see firsthand what an amazing place it is, and witness the incredible devotion and passion of the people who work there.”

If you’re looking to “Pour it Forward,” Cru Vin Dogs is available in Fort Collins at Wilbur’s Total Beverage and other fine wine outlets. Visit Cru Vin Dogs to find out if their vintages are available near you, or you can order their wines online.

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