Wining With Fido

By Kathleen Byrne, Guest Contributor

Bocce with Bella? Frisbee for Freddy? Agility and Annie? The world is wising up and including dogs in activities. Wineries, typically with mutts running their operations, are on board. They know dogs rule!

These wineries, with easy interstate or city access, do more than allow well-behaved leashed dogs in the tasting room. They support canine-related causes, serve great wine and everyone on the trip has fun.

Plum Hill Vineyards  
6505 SW Old Highway 41
Gaston, OR 97119

Ghost, the rescued yellow Lab, greets visitors at Plum Hill. These vineyards are a work in progress as the owners, R.J. and Juanita Lint, bought an early 1900s dairy farm that had lain fallow a number of years. Two years after planting and refurbishing, they opened the tasting room. Plum Hill offers many wine selections.

The pampered puppy play area was built before the tasting room, an approximately 30’x100′ fenced arena with a three-obstacle agility course for pups of all sizes and ages. The play area features several tunnels, a set of stairs and an ever-popular fire hydrant. The well-watered and shady play area is a safe place for dogs.

Dogs with little agility interest are free to roam the grounds, the tasting room and the back patio, where they will be entertained by local bands on weekends. Canines Uncorked, an annual fundraiser for the Oregon Humane Society, is supported by Plum Hill Vineyards and is held the last Saturday of July. For a $40 “passport,” wine lovers are allowed free tastings at participating wineries (11 last year). This event is a unique day of food, contests, dog-related activities and wine, and all proceeds benefit the Oregon Humane Society.

Garden Vineyards  
12960 Northwest Dick Road
Hillsboro, OR 97124

Tucked on a hilltop, at the end of a long, sinuous lane, Garden Vineyards appears like a magnificent oasis. Vibrant, colorful, pristine and serene, the place is a jolt after the forest drive. Gracious Melinda Wilson and family are happy to greet you. Hundreds of blooming plants, shrubs and grasses adorn this mecca. The Tuscan-inspired tasting room and private residence disappear amidst the foliage.

It’s a dog’s paradise, and nothing is off limits. Chasing squirrels, sprinting down a vineyard row and, then, just off the terrace, an enormous grassy area, perfect for the Frisbee or Kong.

Humans will appreciate the expansive views, the organic garden lunches and mature wines (producing since 1992), and Lucky and Rover will love the freedom and Mona-Amie, a goofy golden puppy. Downtime can be enjoyed in numerous secluded spots scattered among the gardens.

Garden Vineyards is set on 30 acres of vineyards, three acres of lawn and gardens and an additional three acres of organic food gardens. All food served at the winery comes from this organic area. Here is an incredible hang-out place for man and beast.

Another stop on the Canines Uncorked wine tour, Garden Vineyards supports many causes. Every Saturday, 20 percent of their proceeds go to a local charity.

Garden Vineyards lends itself out to doggie birthday parties and specific-breed play days. Saturday evenings throughout the summer, the tasting room is open until 10:00 p.m. Outdoor movies are shown; oftentimes, live music.

Maryhill Winery
9774 Highway 14
Goldendale, WA 98620

On a bluff of 90 acres overlooking the Columbia River, Maryhill Winery was the 2009 Washington State Winery of the Year. Their motto, “where the sunshine meets the rain,” describes their setting and bold wines perfectly. With 28 different offerings, wine lovers will be sated.

Maryhill Winery loves dogs. Mr. Potter, the Great Pyrenees, welcomes all dogs in the tasting room and anywhere on the grounds except the grassy amphitheater area where big names in entertainment take the stage. Water and treats are readily available in the tasting room and on the large, shaded terrace overlooking the Columbia River barge traffic. Opposite the parking area is an off-leash lawn with picnic tables. Four dog-friendly bocce courts separated by trellis-shaded plants are available.

Dog Days of Summer is an event exclusive to Maryhill Winery. On Father’s Day weekend, dozens of dogs and humans descend on the winery for a day of education and interactive fun. Veterinarians place microchips, breeders offer advice and groomers cut fur. Police dogs demonstrate and photographers shoot. All are invited to enjoy the agility course, swimming pool, costume parade and owner/pet look-alike contest. Proceeds from this event help local shelters.

Cultura Winery
2601 Highland Drive
Zillah, WA 98953

Cultura Winery, owned by Tad and Sarah Fewel, serves Bordeaux-style red wines only. This upscale boutique winery welcomes pets in any area of the winery. Proponents of alternate fuels, vegetable oil fuel from the family’s fruit farm powers the wine-making equipment. It was considered “one of the five unique wine experiences in Washington and Oregon” on the Travel Channel.

The Fewels have a vested interest in the Cherry Wood Canine and Wine Walk, an annual event held on Mother’s Day weekend. A $10 donation (plus a bit more for lunch) allows participants tastings at selected wineries on a five-mile circuit designed to walk through private vineyards. Tad’s mother, Pepper, is the organizer, and Cultura is the lunch stop, doggie rest and rehydration place and the spot police dogs demonstrate.

At Cherry Wood Bed, Breakfast and Barn, adoptable dogs from Yakima Valley Pet Rescue are available, and veterinarians are on hand. This uplifting walk has donated nearly $7,000 to the local no-kill shelter.

Bonair Winery
500 South Bonair Road
Zillah, WA 98953

In the nearly snakeless Rattlesnake Hills near Yakima, Washington, are some of the nation’s best-kept wine secrets. Long known as apple country, the Yakima area is coming of age in the wine arena.

The open, friendly, hard-working people in this area consider dogs a necessary item, and Bonair Winery’s owners, Gail and Shirley Pulyear, are no exception. Bung, the happy Australian shepherd living at Bonair, is known for his generosity.

Each year, Bung’s Birthday Bash is well-attended (200 last year). A free reserve tasting is given for each bag of pet food or for pet products brought to Bung’s birthday. All gifts, lunch costs and sale of treat-filled dog bowls are donated to the Yakima Animal Shelter.

Outside the tasting room is an enormous pond ready for any dog wanting to get wet. This magnificent swimming hole is lined, full year-round and monitored for safe chemical levels. Bung only asks they not chase the four resident ducks. Bonair is also a Harvest Host member. RVs or tents can set up outside the main gates in the dog play area. This space, when not filled with campers, is a Frisbee or ball-throwing heaven.

Bung’s Bonair is a stop on the annual Cherry Wood Canine and Wine Walk.

Two Mountain Winery
2151 Cheyne Road
Zillah, WA 98953

Called “one the most dog-friendly tasting rooms” by Wine Enthusiast magazine, Two Mountain Winery is a fun place for canines or humans. Their cavernous, unpretentious, unadorned tasting room feels warm and intimate.

Led by gimpy old Gus, four resident dogs greet the visitor. Three are yellow Labs or yellow Lab mix, the fourth a basset hound. Read their biographies on the Two Mountain Website.

Visiting dogs have run of the orchard, dig for gophers or roll in the grass. Outside the tasting room is a small, cheery lawn, perfect for drinking and ball throwing. A play area for children is there, as well.

Another supporter and stop on the Cherry Wood Canine and Wine Walk, Two Mountain Winery is a small-lot boutique winery that emphasizes quality. Eight varietals are available. You will want them all.

Kathleen is a freelance travel writer from southern Oregon who has been traveling her entire life. She has led trips to Nepal, across the Chilkoot Trail in Alaska and along the Southwest Coastal Path in England. Additionally, she has canoed in the Boundary Waters and been part of medical missionaries in Rwanda.

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