Grower Spotlight: Schlies Family

In 2006, Chris and Christine Schlies acquired nearly 30 acres of vineyard (now called the Sandy Bend Vineyard) in Upper Lake, Calif. They have made a commitment to sustainable winegrape growing.

People walking on a dirt road next to the Schlies Vineyard

Chris Schlies is a California native, a graduate of UC Santa Cruz and the UC Davis School of Law. He has been married to his wife Christine for 26 years. They have two sons, Joe (23) and Dominic (21). He maintains an active law practice in Pleasanton, where he has been practicing since 1980. In 2003, after his father’s death, Chris began to greatly increase the time he devoted to the family’s farm interests. Although the farm properties are professionally managed, Chris is actively involved in farming decisions and enjoys his frequent visits to the properties. Chris currently serves on the board of the Tri-Valley Conservancy, a non-profit agricultural preservation organization in Livermore, California. Christine is also active in the management of the family businesses, assisting Chris wherever needed and managing the financial operations.

The Schlies family has been farming in California since the 1960s, when Chris’s dad, a pediatrician bought a prune orchard in Napa (sold in 1969 or 1970, now the site of Corley Winery) and a 65-acre orange ranch in Orosi. Since then, the family has invested in almonds in Merced County, purchasing a 100-acre parcel in Planada and a 62-acre parcel in Livingston. The vineyard purchase in 2006 was the family’s first venture in winegrape growing, and they spent 6-8 years developing their knowledge.

Schlies vineyard

The Sandy Bend Vineyard is located along Middle Creek in Upper Lake. It was previously a walnut orchard. Today it includes 4-1/2 acres of Muscat, about 1/2 – 2/3 acres of Sauvignon Musque, and a little more than 24 acres of Sauvignon Blanc.

Chris’ family has been vacationing in Lake County since he was young. Lake County is an excellent location for winegrape growing, which prompted Chris’ search for a quality Sauvignon Blanc vineyard, a variety that does particularly well in Lake County. Chris believes the “smart money” is in Lake County because the region is desirable for quality winegrape growing and the land values prove that it is somewhat of a well-kept secret.

The Schlies family feels that their farming practices have always been largely consistent with the principles of the sustainable farming initiative. By putting themselves through the certification process, they are supporting the movement by making theior commitment public to their winery customers as well as to the general the farming community. They are learning how the CSWC defines “sustainability” and they hope to participate in the process, as well as continue to fine-tune their practices.

Chris Schlies standing in vineyard


    Grower Conversation Series: Winegrape Wednesdays 4:00 pm
    Grower Conversation Series: Winegrape Wednesdays @ The Mercantile
    Jul 17 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
    Grower Conversation Series: Winegrape Wednesdays @ The Mercantile
    You are invited to attend the Grower Conversation series hosted by Lake County Winegrowers. This series aims to connect growers, buyers, and industry experts to discuss the climate of today’s market. Each conversation will feature[...]
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