Dog Friendly Wineries
Growing numbers of Midwest wineries are going where very few bars and restaurants in the United States have gone before — encouraging customers to bring their dogs. The move is attracting visits from both dog owning, day-tripping tourists and local dog owners with their Patch or Lassie.
Internet guides for dog owners testify to numerous canine friendly wineries. Bringfido.com lists dozens of them by state, each winery providing it’s own pro-dog declaration. For example, Missouri’s Stonehaus Farms Winery encourages you to, ‘Sit outside and enjoy a glass with Fido!” Schorr Lake Vineyard in Illinois goes one step further with ‘lots of outdoor seating for dogs and beautiful lake views.”
Some wineries aren’t ready to go all the way. In Michigan, Round Barn Winery says it is ‘very dog friendly, except during special events.”
There are wineries that are welcoming to dogs and there are dog wineries. Hickory Creek Winery in Buchanan, Michigan, has three dogs: Pongo and Toddy, both Corgis, and Kia, a Labrador. Tasting Room Manager Jeffrey DeAngelis said Kia and Toddy are not so active these days, but Pongo is usually on duty to meet and greet winery visitors.
Cat lovers needn’t be concerned that dirty dogs will be roaming around tasting rooms transmitting infectious diseases. Hickory Creek is one of a number of dog friendly wineries listed on the Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council website that states: ‘Dogs must be leashed and have up to date shots.” And they aren’t quite prepared to ‘go French” either: ‘Since we have a small tasting room, dogs are limited to outside grounds only.”
In Louisville, Kentucky, there’s a wine bar and store that specifically caters to dog owners. Vines and Canines in the Highlands neighborhood carries products for lovers of both dogs and wine.
Owner Marc De Michele says wine and dog lovers share an emphasis on an organic and natural style of living. ‘The idea for Vines & Canines came to me while studying for the Somm exam with friends,” De Michele said. ‘We were all sitting around with our dogs and I realized all you need to be happy is a good dog and great bottle of wine.”
But in Basehor, Kansas, Holy-Field Vineyard & Winery is one of a handful of Midwest wineries that unashamedly expresses unreserved love for man’s best friend.
Like some other wineries in the region, including Stone Hill in Hermann, Holy-Field hosts charity events to help local dog shelters.
There are also a surprising number of dogs that actually live at Holy-Field – known in local lore as “wine dogs.” So many that Paws for Freedom, an organization that trains dogs from puppyhood to be service animals, bring puppies to Holy-Field for socialization skills.
And for many years, Holy-Field’s dogs have featured on their wine labels. It all began with Yogi, explains Holy-Field’s owner, Michelle Meyer.
‘The Yogi Berry Blackberry wine is named for one of our first wine dogs, Yogi, who was born at the vineyard and lived to be 14 years old. He was a huge white dog, part Great Pyrenees and part Labrador Retriever. He was always in the tasting room and people still ask for him and talk about him! Yogi was our first wine dog label.”
There’s also Holy-Field’s off-dry red blend – Corky’s Barrel – named after Michelle’s first Landseer Newfoundland, Corky, who died three years ago.
Corky’s successor and cousin, 3 year old Cooper, is a big hit with children who insist on stopping at the winery just to visit him. Cooper is expected to have his own wine label soon, but not before Sinbad, a 13 year old, Black Labrador Retriever, owned by Michelle’s brother Patrick.
And the label for the winery’s St Francis Port features two more faithful winery residents: Bacchus, aged 16 and his half-sister, Vinnie, aged 14. The English Springer Spaniels are inseparable and enjoy riding together in winemaker (and Michelle’s father) Les Meyer’s utility cart.
‘My dad says that the dogs own the cart and they just let him drive it!” says Michelle.
Michelle says there are also lots of honorary wine dogs who regularly hang out at the winery with their ‘people.”
Growing numbers of dogs in Kansas and across the Midwest are having their day.
Homepage photo: Wines & Canines, Louisville, KY