Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Going to the Dogs – Winery Adventures on Four Feet

It’s that time of year,  heading out on a summer weekend for a wine tasting excursion when those sad brown eyes make you pause. If only you could take your dog... Well, go ahead and grab that lease because there are hundreds of wineries throughout the U.S. where you and Rover can sit, sip, and stay together.

The normal requirements when traveling to a winery with your four-legged friend are usually the same; keep it on a leash, keep it under control, and clean up after it. (If only we could have these rules for some children…) You’ll find that many wineries will also offer fresh water and treats for furry visitors.

But before you head out with your furry friend, call the wineries you expect to visit and inquire if dogs are allowed in the tasting room. Also, check the winery web site for a pet info section that can give you more information on bringing your pet for a visit.

Or visit a new website called Fido Factor This is like Trip Advisor or Yelp for pets. Simply enter the location where you’ll be going and up pops pet-friendly businesses along with pertinent information to make your visit more comfortable. Fido Factors include crowd size, noise level, permitted dog size, and areas where dogs are allowed. You can even leave a review and rate your experience with dog biscuits; 1 biscuit is disappointing – 5 outstanding. Plus, the site offers nearby locations that are also pet-friendly.

'Angel' Casper
And many wineries and wine trails are getting involved by offering dog-centric events including annual open houses, dog costume contests, vineyard strolls, Yappy Hours, and annual benefits to assist and raise awareness for local rescue and adoption societies.

In fact, some winery owners have gone to the dogs and named the wineries dog-centric names. Here are just a few: 

Sami & Blue
Spoiled Dog Winery in Whidbey Island, Washington is named for the owner’s Australian Shepard’s, Blue and Sami. Of course, these aren’t the only spoiled dogs around so each September the winery holds its annual Spoiled Dog Contest.

Punk Dog Wines is located in Napa, California and named for Sophie – a strong-willed, in your face dog who has taught the winery owners there’s only two things that matter - “to make great wine and have fun doing it.”

Spotted Dog Winery in Saline, Michigan is named for the family’s two Dalmatians, Holmes and Watson. The wine line offers such pooch appealing names as Good Dog, Bad Dog, Rollover, and Speak.

The House of Mutt-Lynch Winery is located in Healdsburg, California. Patch, the resident Greyhound, is a rescue dog and a portion of the proceeds of every bottle goes to support local animal rescue groups. Mutt-Lynch’s motto is: Apply Dog Logic to Life: Eat Well, Be Loved, Get Petted, Sleep A lot, Dream of a Leash-Free World.  – Sark

Whistling Dog Cellars is located in Salem, Oregon where they grow and craft small batches of Pinot Noir wines with amazing results. And, yes, there really was a whistling dog, named Fleck. It seems that when he became excited, he whistled. (Yes, Bogie & Bacall came to mind...)

Tail Wagger Red
Sleeping Dog Wines is located in Benton City, Washington. Named for Aurora, their “sleeping dog”, the winery offers several wines including a Tail Wagger Red. Aurora is kept company by Bella and Syrah, the winery cats.

Big Dog Vineyard in Milpitas, California is named for the owners’ big dog, Cab who has a Cabernet named after him – or vise-versa… In fact, Cabs are a specialty here with 7 on the wine list, including a Cabernet Dessert Wine.

Besides wineries, many restaurants and bars are also becoming dog friendly. While U.S. health regulations do not allow animals inside a business where food is prepared, many restaurants with outdoor accommodations can offer pet lovers patio or deck seating and allow their four-legged friends to dine there also.

Riley Red
If your K-9 kid is a bit too rambunctious, not socially adapted, or simply just shy, you might want to consider ordering in a bottle in. There’s the Dog Lover’s Wine Club, offering a variety of wines crafted from Pinot Noir and small amounts of other California grapes. The organization also supports animal shelters and rescue groups around the country.

Another wine club for dog lovers is Cru Vin Dogs. This wine group combines wine, dogs, fine art and worthy causes “into a wine brand with a purpose. Wine that gives back. Wine that makes a difference.” A portion of the proceeds of your purchase goes to canine service organizations, animal shelters and dog rescue groups.

Murrow's Ready To Go!
So grab your four-legged friend, unleash your oenophile, and head out on an open road wine adventure this weekend! (The 'paws' will refresh you both!)

~ Joy

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