Wine Country Dogs

Canines set the tone at these California wineries.

Wine and cheese are a perfect combination. So are winemakers and their dogs. And they have more in common that just a good nose. In fact, dogs are such an inherent part of life on numerous estates that vintners celebrate this canine connection with delightful wines named after their best friends.

Labels such as Château La Paws Côte du Bone Roan from Rosenblum Cellars and Merlot Over and Play Dead from the Mutt Lynch Winery leave no doubt who heads the pack at those wineries. Neither do a Two Dog Vineyard Merlot from Graeser Winery and the Australian label Starvedog Lane. Even wine estates, such as Dog House Winery and the Bad Dog Winery, take their cues from the canine world.

Further, many estates list their dog’s credentials on their websites, labeling them “Official Greeter” at the tasting cellars or simply “Winery Host.”

“It helps to take the stuffiness out of wine,” says vintner Kent Rosenblum, DVM, the maker of Château La Paws and a practicing veterinarian in Alameda, Calif. Rosenblum’s Brittany, Max Tucker, is his constant companion whether he’s out inspecting grapes or visiting his veterinary offices.

“I was vacationing in La Paz, Mexico, one year, and we were joking around with ideas for wine labels. And La Paz became La Paws.”

Winemaker Brenda Lynch of Mutt Lynch Winery in Dry Creek Valley, Calif., uses her dog for a different purpose. “I know I have good grapes when my Border Collie Molly starts eating them straight out of the bucket,” she says. “She’s at my heel all day. She loves to chase the water hose, the shovel, and the broom. And during harvest time, she’s always sopping wet.

“We produce our wines in a co-op facility, so she enjoys visiting the other wine makers and going over to the tasting rooms to greet visitors. Being a Border Collie, she’s a total workaholic.”

At day’s end, Lynch and her husband Chris like to relax “with a glass of wine on our patio that overlooks vineyards in the valley below. Molly will take a time-out, too.”

Bret Munselle, who farms at Munselle Vineyards along the banks of the Russian River, in Sonoma County, Calif., takes his Golden Retriever Bella with him everywhere. “I can’t imagine going to work without a dog by my side. I think it’s on a wine farm dog’s résumé to keep the wine farmer entertained.”

In nearby Santa Rosa, Calif., a Labrador Retriever Robbie is the official greeter and Chief Dog Officer at Dog House Winery. He belongs to CEO Barbara Bankey, but makes it his business to be wherever the action is.

For dogs lucky enough to live on estates in California’s wine country, it is indeed a dog’s life!


A trip to wine country

If you’d like to visit some of these wineries, plan ahead for a trip both you — and your dog — can enjoy.

Call in advance to ask about the winery’s dog policy.

Check the winery’s website for special events that cater to canines.

•  Look for fabulously dog-friendly accommodations, such as the Cypress Inn in Carmel, Calif., recognized as one of the most pet-friendly hotels in Northern Californian wine country. for more information

Vintners love other dogs, too

Winemakers who love dogs share the wealth.

The Dog House Winery in Santa Rose, California has an affiliation with Guide Dogs for the Blind, and donates 50 cents of each bottle sold.

Behind the scenes, many other estates have links with animal charities.

At Stryker Sonoma in Geyserville, Calif., the resident dog Hiro became famous in wine country by hosting an annual “paw-ty” to raise money for the local nonprofit animal shelter. Sadly, Hiro died in 2005, but owners Karen Maley and Craig MacDonald plan to continue the tradition with their current dog, Mac’s , a Labradoodle who is fast learning the ropes on the estate.

“A dog-friendly fundraiser in the vineyards gives wine lovers the opportunity to bring their dogs to run freely in the countryside for an afternoon,” Maley says.

There are other canine connections, tooDon Hartford, of The Hartford Family Winery in Forestville, Calif., adopts retired guide dogs, allowing them to live out their golden years chasing rabbits amongst the grapevines.


This article is from DogFancy Magazine

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