Movers & Shakers: Kanchan Schindlauer pairs wine & wit, while also confronting gender bias
Welcome to Movers & Shakers; A series in which we delve deeply into PNW life for people who make movements, do big things, and in general are just plain radical. Seattle is full of eclectic and diverse people, many at the intersection of technology and art. How do you find the time? What’s your secret? Well friends, we’re here to find out. Meet Movers & Shakers; aka Seattle Refined Trying to capture the not-so-secret life of impressive locals. Do you have a recommendation for us? Email [email protected]
Kanchan Schindlauer pairs wine with wisecracks at Chipmonkey Wine – think of bespoke cards for any occasion like “Sorry, your in-laws are financial leeches” and “Sorry, I was so bossy”. And a bonus? All of this paired with some world class wine.
During a life-changing trip to Styria (a fairytale Austrian state, famous for wine and castles) with her Viennese friend at the time, her current husband, Schindlauer was enthusiastic about local wine.
“I was curious to find out more and took a couple of wine books with me,” she said. “As someone who seldom reads for pleasure, I was utterly surprised that I couldn’t take it off. My passion for wine was born. And to think it was under my nose all along.”
Schindlauer was the fun kid that grew up and still finds humor her favorite way to connect with people. Never without their jokes.
“Chipmonkey is actually a combination of my kids’ nicknames, Chipmunk and Monkey,” she said. “After all, they’re my reason for everything, including – I’m joking – why we drink.”
Chipmonkey Wine was born out of Schindlauer’s wish to send delicious wine with a super personal touch to a dear friend who had suffered a terrible loss. (You can read the full story here).
[Life event? New wine delivery service has some SASSY vino for that]
“I’ve created crazy wine pairings that are relevant to my friends ‘lives. For those well-wishers who often exceed their greetings, I found a robust Aussie Shiraz because’ if your dark-colored teeth don’t put them off, at 15% alcohol, Her slurring will surely do it. “My hope was to give her a smile at such an incredibly difficult time. It worked. At the encouragement of this friend and others, I turned this crazy idea into Chipmonkey Wine,” said Schindlauer.
The wine industry is still a boys’ club and is largely patriarchal in nature.
“Gender bias in our industry comes on many levels. When discussing my business, I’ve often had the general feeling, ‘Oh, what a cute little hobby,'” she said. “Many of the questions I was asked would not have been asked of male colleagues. I hope this will fade with success, but I see male colleagues in the industry with new companies happily immune to the added hurdles.” “
Unfortunately, the gender bias ranges from such passive examples to downright systematic and terrible. According to Schindlauer, a recent article in the New York Times exposing widespread sexual harassment, assault and abuse of power within the Court of Master Sommeliers was a very sobering reality check for their industry.
“The level at which pervasive concerns have not been addressed and swift action taken at the expense of so many women is inexcusably appalling,” she said.
There are a lot of great people in the wine industry, but when it comes to breaking down gender bias, harassment and attack at all levels, it is clear that there is still deep work to be done. For Schindlauer, the enjoyable aspects of being a business owner are the sense of achievement every step of the way.
“When I’m frustrated with the hurdles ahead, I force myself to look back and remember all of the challenges I’ve already faced,” she said.
For them, innovation is the name of the game. Now that winter is around the corner and we’re all looking for fun indoor activities – you might want to check out Chipmonkey’s newest baby, an interactive wine trivia game – that doesn’t require any wine knowledge. Schindlauer is committed to our own wine industry in an evergreen state.
“Washington grown grapes have great potential in the right hands to make spectacular wines. I love being able to promote the industry here and support those in our own garden,” she said.
While most people choose a wine once they have decided on their evening menu, Schindlauer does it the other way around.
“I think about how I want to drink and then decide what to eat for dinner. For nibbling and entertaining, it’s hard to beat truffle popcorn with a sparkling rosé or a sausage plate with a slightly chilled dry lambrusco,” she said .
The wine outsider tells us a little secret. Sshh..even certified sommeliers drink wine from the supermarket.
“I’ll pick up a bottle or two of sparkling rosé like Mumm Napa or Roederer Estate Brut Rosé,” said Schindlauer. “I don’t go to the supermarket to find a coveted gem, but there are plenty of drinkable ‘Tuesday night’ finds there.”