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The pinot puppy: Flying Goat Cellars introduces a new addition to its family 

Ed. note: This item is outside of the usual Bites coverage range, but, you know, puppy!

click to enlarge THE PINOT PUPPY:
  Wine just got a new best friend. Cooper is a 12-week old chocolate lab that can now be seen frolicking around the tasting room of Flying Goat Cellars in Lompoc. Owners Norm Yost and Kate Griffith feel a little more complete with Cooper bustling around after losing their previous chocolate lab of 14 years, Cacau, in 2012.

“We thought ‘something’s been missing in our life,’” said Yost, winemaker and founder of Flying Goat Cellars. Friends of the couple knew how much they missed Cacau and encouraged them to get another companion. They were tipped off that there was a bundle of puppies that needed loving homes not even 100 yards from their house. They couldn’t resist the temptation, so they decided to take a look.

“We went for a walk and, lo and behold, we came home with a chocolate puppy,” Yost said.

The couple named the little guy “Cooper” after the profession that builds and seasons barrels. Coopers shape and assemble casks and barrels and are very important in wine production. The flavor of the wine depends, in part, on how long the barrel-maker roasts the inside of the containers prior to holding the wine.

Although this chocolate lab isn’t experienced in making the wine, he helps Yost in the field. When Cooper isn’t greeting guests and tasters in the tasting room, he’s getting his paws dirty tasting grapes, including the ones used for the cellar’s very own pinot nior as well as the chardonnay grapes used in Flying Goat’s sparkling wines. Yost and Griffith, as well as guests, find him a fitting addition to the atmosphere. His adorable presence has been well received.

He was the superstar at our barrel tasting last Sunday,” Griffith said. “Who does not love a puppy?”

To meet Cooper for yourself, visit the Flying Goat Cellars tasting room in Lompoc Thursday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit for more information. To make an appointment, call 736-9032 or e-mail

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