Midwest Winery Dog of the Year Winners
Normally, it would be happy news to announce the Midwest Wine Press Midwest Winery Dog of the Year winners. Sadly, two of the winning dogs passed away recently. So the Winery Dog of the Year contest is both a celebration and a memorial to all the winery dogs who contribute so much to the Midwest winery experience.
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First Place: Dude
Sleepy Creek Vineyards, Fairmount, Illinois
Owner: Joe Taylor
“This award is very special to us, as this fall was the final harvest for The Dude,” said Joe Taylor of Sleepy Creek. “Time had finally caught up with him, he was 12 years old.” (Dude passed away during late 2012.)
“Dude was with us from the very start of Sleepy Creek Vineyards. He loved being out in the vineyard, keeping an eye on things while we planted and pruned the vines, trained them and picked the grapes. He especially loved being in the vineyard during harvest, his excitement growing as the volunteer pickers would arrive. He knew when it was time to pick. Even this year, I tried to to keep him inside during harvest to rest his old bones, but he would have nothing to do with it and pretty much forced me to let him come out with us.”
“He loved the people visiting the winery too. At 120 pounds he was a gentle giant. Often rubbing his head on visitors, looking for a back scratch or a piece of cheese,” Taylor recalled.
“I’ve had other great dogs in my life, but The Dude was special. We spent every day together. He truly was a best friend and companion.”
Second Place: Smitty
Northern Sun Winery, Bark River, Michigan
Owner: Dave and Susie Anthony
“Smitty the Winery Dog is a 2-year-old Spinonie Italiano who protects me and my wife Susie from gophers in the vineyard,” said David Anthony of Northern Sun. “She also welcomes people touring the vineyard, and expects all newcomers to play ball or chase her. Her breed is a pointing bird dog, but they have a reputation as being very affectionate couch potatoes. Her formal name is Antonia Spinonia Pupperonia. The nickname, Smitty, comes from the movie “Roman Holiday” where Audrey Hepburn plays a princess in disguise. Smitty is Susie’s princess and receives royal attention around her vineyard kingdom.”
“Her highness is very intelligent and takes direction well. She responds to verbal commands and hand signals. She is a great in conversations, being an incredibly good listener. Her people carry on quite lengthy conversations with her in the vineyard and she never interrupts or loses interest,” Anthony said.
Third Place: Rocky
Cellar 426 Winery, Ashland, Nebraska
Owner: Richard Hilske
“This is wonderful news about Rocky,” said Richard Hilske of Cellar 426. “On a sad note, after submitting Rocky for your contest he suddenly passed away on Labor Day. He was a wonderful dog that, in the short four months we were open, loved to greet the customers and sit with them on our deck. You can read a bit more about him and his life on my blog.” (Please see the link to the Cellar 426 website above for Richard’s blog.)
Publisher’s note: Thanks to everyone who participated and voted in the contest. All the pictures and winery dog biographies were great!
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