Dogs feature in a range of wines and vineyards across the world. As we are starting off a new year, I’m toasting the innovative ways wine makers have chosen to feature dogs.
I’ve been interested in wine labels portraying dogs since 2007, when I launched Canine Catering. The launch was combined with a birthday party for Daisy and I bought some red wine from the local supermarket called ‘Dog Box Red.’ It had a cute picture of a dog on the label and was very appropriate to the occasion. It was also a good bottle of wine. Sadly, I’ve never seen this wine again in the shops. It was probably one of those short runs of wine we get here that are remainders from export shipments. In fact, I can’t even find the wine on the internet – so it was probably a one-off.
Anyway, at the party we had a friend who asked for bottle of the wine to add to her ‘dog wine’ collection. Since then, I’ve managed to buy her several other brands of wine to add to it. I still get looks when I walk into wine shops and ask ‘Do you have any wines with dogs on the label?’
Since New Zealand is known for its wine exports, I’ll start here and then look abroad for wines with dogs.
First, there’s Huntaway Reserve. This wine launched in 1996 and features varieties from the Marlborough, Gisborne and Hawkes Bay regions.
Hunters Wines from Marlborough feature a crest that has the image of a dog on the label. According to the company website, the crest is that of the Hunter clan of Scotland, however some visitors to the vineyard associated the logo with Commodore, a St Bernard and then a Clumber Spaniel named Paddy who were owned by the Hunter family. Here’s a photo of the Hunter crest:
Then, there is the Dog Point Vineyard in Marlborough. There’s no dog on the label but the website tells the story behind the name – that Dog Point is an area named by the pioneer shepherds in the area because of the dogs who became lost or wandered off there:
The name Dog Point dates back to the earliest European settlement of Marlborough and the introduction of sheep to the district. These were the days where, due to a lack of fences, boundary riders used boundary keeping dogs to protect the local flocks of sheep.
Shepherds’ dogs sometimes became lost or wandered off, eventually breeding to form a marauding pack that attacked the same flocks they were meant to be protecting.
Eventually settlers were forced to cull the dogs and the area was named Dog Point.
These dogs lived on the tussock and scrub covered southern hills of Dog Point Vineyards. This landscape was, and still is, characterised by the iconic New Zealand native plant the Ti Kouka ‘cabbage’ tree which is also an established feature of the Dog Point property.
In Central Otago, there is the wine produced by Roger Donaldson called Sleeping Dogs. Mr Donaldson directed a movie with this title and named his wine after it. He produces Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc under this brand.
Okay, leaving New Zealand, there’s Longue-Dog produced in Languedoc in the South of France. This is a wine I’ve been able to buy here and add to my friend’s collection. It features a Dachshund on the label.
Let’s head to Healdsburg, California to the Mutt Lynch Winery next. I’d really like to go there because the tasting room is dog-friendly!
The vineyard donates a portion of proceeds from every bottle of wine they sell to local animal shelters and rescue groups. This vineyard produces a wide range of wines all with a unique doggy label. Here’s just a few:
I can understand why Mutt Lynch’s website says Welcome to a wonderful world where wine and “all things dog” collide into something truly special.
Okay, next on my list is Cru Vin Dogs. This company is based in Colorado and is another socially-responsible business. It also produces wines with a unique dog on every label. Each label features an original, limited -edition illustration by artist Jay P. Snellgrove, who is one of the partners in the business According to the company, each label honors a real dog that has a special story-a reminder of how empty this world would be without the unconditional love and devotion of “man’s best friend.”
Here’s an example of some of Cru Vin’s wines:
Our next stop is Washington State, the home of Sleeping Dog Wines. Because the owner always had a dog companion on his life’s journey, he decided to pay tribute to them by featuring a sleeping dog on the label (unfortunately, I couldn’t source a photo of it to show you).
In Paso Robles California is Écluse, a small family owned vineyard. One part of their range is Blind Dog Wines, where proceeds are donated to Dogs for the Deaf. This vineyard is home to two blind dogs and they have produced this range of wines to commemorate their role in establishing and maintaining the vineyard. I would have loved to share a photo of their wines, but one wasn’t available.
In the Willamette Valley of Salem, Oregon, Dog Gone Wine is also selling wine that benefits a dog organisation in their area. (I wish their website would tell us which ones they support!) But I like the names of their wines. There’s Poodle Pinot, Basset Hound Blackberry Wine, Pug Bear Wine, and Pomeranian Pomegranate Wine. All have really adorable labels:
We’re going to the East Coast of the USA next to Floyd, Virginia which is home of Chateau Morrisette. Their wines also feature dogs on the label but I wish their website would tell us the connection!
So when you are next in your local wine shop, look for dog labelled wine and let me know if there are others out there to try. And remember: wine is for humans not for dogs!