Wine tasting isn’t just about thoughtfully sipping vintages to look for hints of cherry, pepper and blackberry.
These days, it’s also about bringing your best buddy along — the four-legged kind.
Vetstreet.com and its deputy editor, Liz Ozaist, have rounded up eight wineries across the country that not only allow pooches on property, but also work doggedly to welcome canine visitors with special events, including “Yappy Hours” and dog-friendly vineyard strolls.
Mutt Lynch Winery & Lambert Bridge Winery, Healdsburg, California
Set in California’s fabled Sonoma County grape country, Mutt Lynch Winery is as dog-friendly as its name implies. Owners Brenda and Chris Lynch started their operation in 1995, with their ex-racing Greyhound rescue Patch in tow. Their motto: “Apply Dog Logic to Life.”
The couple regularly hosts and participates in dog events, like their annual “Barkus” open house, featuring “Yaps & Apps” and vineyard walks. As a bonus, these gatherings often support animal charities, like Adopt-a-Pet and the Green Dog Rescue Project. In the tasting room, animal lovers will find water bowls, dog beds and cookie jars filled to the brim with pet treats (there are even snacks for pups with food allergies) while the humans sip the “best doggone wine” ever.
Tip: Not too dog tired yet? Head to nearby Lambert Bridge Winery for more four-legged fun with resident dogs Bernadette, Wiley, Gus and Heinzy, who welcome visitors to a tasting room stocked with treats and water bowls. Starting in July, the winery will host a “Yappy Hour” on the first Friday evening of every month, which includes pizza, wine, pet adoptions and freshly baked treats for pups.
Winery at Wolf Creek, Summit County, Ohio
When Andy Troutman and his wife, Deanna, took over the Winery at Wolf Creek in 2002, they were already intimately acquainted with the property — he’d been Wolf Creek’s longtime vineyard manager. These days, the couple throws regular animal-related events: “Hog Day,” featuring celebrated porcine guest of honor Baconstein; The Goat Derby, with resident animals Peanut, Cashew and Mona, and, most notably, “Yappy Hours” on one Tuesday evening each month throughout the summer. Guests and their pups pay $10 to sip vino and nibble on dog treats — and the proceeds benefit Give Pets a Chance, an adoption charity.
Spoiled Dog Winery, Whidbey Island, Washington
Spoiled Dog Winery (the name says it all) is located on a sustainable farm in a “rain shadow” on lush Whidbey Island, which gets less rainfall than the surrounding Puget Sound area. This is apparently good for the grapes — and also for pups, who come calling with their human companions, hoping to snag some tasty treats and romp with Australian Shepherds Sami and Blue in the farm’s new tasting room. The winery also throws an annual Spoiled Dog Contest — people send in stories about spoiling their dogs, and the top three winners receive bottles of wine.
At Round Peak Vineyards (top photo), dogs get their own secure play area, compliments of owners Ken Gulaian and Kari Heerdt, whose two dogs, Phoebe and Quake, are affectionately known as “mutts but don’t know it.” On any given day, free treats are available inside the tasting room, along with wine bottle–shaped organic goodies to buy for later good behavior. Once a year the winery also hosts a Dog Days of Summer wine tasting and pet adoption event (this year’s date is August 11) that supports local animal organizations.
Bedell, North Fork, Long Island, New York
Jefferson and Willow, the onsite pooches at Bedell winery, are canine celebrities in these parts — they’ve both been profiled in a series of books called Wine Dogs. If you’re not too busy being starstruck or playing with the winery’s two other dogs, Finbarr and Ripple, check out the renowned art collection belonging to owner Michael Lynne, the executive producer of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Oh, and dog owners can bring along their own four-legged friends when they visit the winery.
Hunt Country Vineyards, Finger Lakes, New York
For the past four years, Hunt Country Vineyards has hosted an annual Dog Walk to benefit the Humane Society of Yates County’s no-kill Shelter of Hope. Guests meander through the vineyards and past ponds — while being guided by one of the winery’s pooches: Rat Terrier Mouse leads a short walk, Bernese Mountain Dog Hedy tackles the medium-length walk, and Great Dane Molly takes people on the longest trek. There’s complimentary wine, of course, and the $10 registration fee goes to charity.
Keswick Vineyards, Keswick, Virginia
If you just can’t seem to get your old dog to pick up some new tricks, you can bring him instead to the historic Keswick Vineyards, which played a role in both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. From April through October, the winery hosts “Yappy Hour” events in the tasting room, as well as outside, where the winery will happily set up tastings. A portion of the proceeds from all the wine sold at the events goes to local animal rescue groups, which often bring in pets for adoption. So you can have some wine and fall in love with a dog, which is, of course, a perfect pairing.
For more great information on pets, visit www.vetstreet.com.