August 23, 2011

Dogs and wine tasting ... not always a good pairing

by winecountrydog Jackie Nippers

Back in his puppyhood, furbro Tilin repawts, he began visiting wineries in Sonoma and Napa, and on the Sonoma Coast and Mendocino County as well. Furbro turns 14 years old during harvest 2011, and is still an active traveler.

Nowadays, furbro is sometimes joined by mywoofself at tastings, where we doo make wine paw-notes while humans have wine sensory adventures.

Over the years, our regional wineries have become furry pawpular. Furbro observes that both the locals who love wine and the happy visitors now enjoy wine tastings all year round. Wine-loving locals, along with visitors from the greater SF Bay Area and around the world, spend many summer days involved in wine touring. Wineries are a grrreat "staycay" destination for locals. And the autumn harvest happenings are becoming wildly pawpular too.

The wine tasting rooms and wine roads have become busy places.

Inside the tasting rooms, furbro and myself, being rawther short in stature, sometimes feel lost amongst the humans, who can move about and wave unpredictably. Above our dogheads, we doo see towering wine bars and shelves full of wine bottles or winery gift shop items. Small items are quickly rearranged by dogs' tails and toddlers' errant hands. BOL! ... But this is not amusing to humans. And tis not amusing to ourwoofselves when things move suddenly toward us -- as when a wine glass or iphone crashes to the floor, or when an unattended human child reaches out a hand.

Ourwoofselves have learned an impawtant truth: We dogs and wine tasting rooms are not always a good pairing. ...

One might woof that "dog-friendly" wine tasting is not always so friendly. Socially, tasting can be a test for us dogs. And tis not always easy for humans, especially when they are trying to focus on serious wine tasting whilst we dogs (and errant youngsters) pull on them.

Add to the furst truth a second impawtant truth: When California wine country weather is hot -- which it can be any day from May through September -- we dogs cannot wait in cars in winery parking lots whilst humans have tastings. ... Dogs left inside motor vehicles on hot days suffer heat stroke and death from suffocation.

Winery visitors should not expect that there will be shady parking spots: Shade will not keep a car interior cool enough. Doo not think that leaving car windows open a few inches is sufficient: It does not keep dogs cool enough on a hot day. ... The ONLY way to get adequate ventilation is through fully open windows. And on the hottest days, not even fully open windows are adequate for us dogs. Still, in any case, humans cannot leave windows open all the way, as cars must be locked up securely.

Tho it does pain us dogs to be left out, we think furhaps winetasting itineraries should be based on seeking quality wines rather than dog-friendly wineries. Twould be a shame not to focus on finding the best wines -- unless humans simply want to enjoy a casual tour or family vacation.

We have heard it through the concierge grapevine that a number of dogs brought to wine country get left alone in rooms of hotels and inns. This abandonment happens more often in hot weather, when visitors learn it is too hot to take dogs out and leave them in parked cars while wine tasting. ...

Howl. Is this abandonment to be blamed on wineries not being universally uber-dog-friendly? Au contraire! It is the dog guardian's respawnsibility to prepare a dog-friendly itinerary and to always think carefully about a best furriend's well-being.

One would tell humans who want to leave dog furriends in strange lodgings instead to leave them at home or with a sitter! Not only is it unkind to leave a dog alone in a hotel room for hours, but also it is an abuse of lodging policies. What happens to the dog who is discovered?

Dog furriends, tis so much simpler for your humans to call wineries and lodgings before visiting and ask staff about the dog policy and dog care.

Visitors must respect the fact that not all lodging and winery owners, nor all winemakers and tasting room folk, are comfurtable with having dogs around the property. Still, pawleeze know that you will find so furry many winery folk who are happy to see us dogs. A lot of wonderfur wineries promote dog-friendliness and pawsitively adore all wine woofers.

One digression ere: Tis not an OK dog policy -- nor is it good public relations -- for a winery (or a hotel or inn) to welcome dogs under 50 pounds while prohibiting larger dogs. We know of a winery in the Russian River Valley (not one of our regular places) with this unfair dog policy. It means that we corgis -- who are not "small" dogs -- can go inside, but none of our big furriends can join us.

While tis any business owner's prerogative whether or not to run a dog-friendly place, we doo believe being "dog-friendly" means that every polite, clean dog is welcome, regardless of size or breed.

How to make dogs and wine tasting a successful pairing:

Dog furriends, tell your humans to
  • Get wine maps and then call around to tasting rooms to verify dog-friendly policies. Ask for hours on intended visiting dates.
  • Ask winery folks for recommendations of nice local lodgings and restaurants. Never rely solely on maps and apps for traveling.
  • Ask winery folks and the lodging concierge for recommendations of doggie daycare places and in-room dog sitters.
  • Always leave dogs at home on triple-digit temperature days. Doo not think about traveling with ill or elderly dogs on the hottest days.
  • Never leave your dog alone in a hotel/inn room, or alone in the car for hours. Take turns being the dog's attendant, or hire a dog sitter.
  • Teach your dog to be a good winery visitor. Offer Fideau the course in Canine Wine Sensory Evaluation or Pawmelier accreditation.
Whenever we can visit grrreat wineries in our region or beyond, we are happy. And whenever we can help our wine country visitors, human or canine, have a grrreat time, we are happy too.

Paw-script: Doo ave a look at this Wine Road listing of wineries round our home dogturf.

No comments: