The Doggie Dozen: Pet Friendly Wineries in Virginia
By Matthew Fitzsimmons
The Doggie Dozen: Pet Friendly Wineries in Virginia
There are roughly 90 million dogs in the United States. By comparison, there are around 75 million children. So saying that dog friendly wineries are important to a lot of people is a huge understatement.
The popularity of pet-friendly destinations was demonstrated in 2017, when the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services tried to ban pets at licensed wineries, breweries, and distilleries. Pet owners were so incensed that a year later the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate passed a near unanimous vote to re-allow four-legged friends at these locations.
Out of Virginia’s over 300 wineries, cideries, and meaderies, almost half allow dogs on the premises. That said, some wineries go the extra mile to give dogs special treatment, oftentimes by hosting special dog-themed events, supporting dog shelters, or having special amenities inside the tasting room.
Barrel Oak Winery: Barrel Oak Winery isn’t abbreviated “BOW” for nothing. Year after year, it’s been rated one of the most dog-friendly wineries in the state (many would argue it’s the dog-friendliest one of all).
BOW earns this distinction by having a tasting room that’s pet-friendly to the point there are almost as many 4-legged friends as there are wine drinkers. BOW also provides cups of water for your pets and have several bottles with dog-themed names, including its Bowhause Red blend and a traminette/petit manseng blend named Goldie. Bonus points for supporting local dog shelters, having its own brewery, and being open seven days a week.
Breaux Vineyards: Breaux would almost certainly respectfully disagree that BOW is Virginia’s most dog-friendly winery. Not content with a huge outdoor space, several years ago Breaux converted its original tasting room into a dog-friendly location named Vin 97. They also hold an annual “Dog Day”, with the next one scheduled for August 28th.
Be sure to try their nebbiolo – not only is Breaux one of the few local wineries that grow this grape, theirs was selected as one of the top 12 wines in the most recent Governor’s Cup wine competition. Also sample their sauvignon blanc and Meritage red blend.
Cana Vineyards: Inspired by the Biblical story of how Jesus turned water into wine, Cana is one of the best-named wineries anywhere. Located just outside Middleburg, the ground floor of Cana’s tasting room is both dog and family-friendly. They even have a ‘bark bar’ with treats (for dogs, not humans!).
For pups who want to be outside, Cana also offers a large covered outdoor space. Don’t miss their cabernet franc or chardonnay either.
Maggie Malick Wine Caves: Jet and Moxie are Maggie’s official greeters. A few years ago the ‘Wine Caves’ expanded to include a large indoor space, which is also pet-friendly.
Maggie offers a number of unique dog-friendly events. On August 14 they are seeking to break the world record for most Australian Shepherds in one place. They also host ‘DockDogs’, where dogs compete for fastest sprint, air jump, or long jump – all safely held at one of their ponds.
While the dogs are cooling off, humans can enjoy any of Maggie’s award-winning wines. Maggie is famous for her tannat, twice winning best-in-show at the San Francisco International Wine Competition. Her albariño and petit manseng have also gotten rave reviews from wine critics.
Mountain Run Winery: Mountain Run is about an hour away from D.C, near the town of Culpeper. Dogs are allowed inside the tasting room and around its 35 acres of land.
It’s easy to tell that Mountain Run is dog friendly because there is a statue of a dog perched on a rock as you enter the winery. They also sponsor pet related events and fundraisers, including a Woof and Wags event on September 11th.
If you’re a fan of Syrah (aka Shiraz) you’re in luck – this is one of the few Virginia wineries that offers this variety. Also try their cider and mead.
Valley View Farm: Valley View has something for everyone. Not only do they offer wine, they have cider, mead, and a farm store. Both VVF and its sister location of Philip Carter Winery have dog-friendly tasting rooms. Governor – the pup owned by owner Philip Carter Strother – definitely recommends their Valley View White.
Be sure to ask for a tour during your visit. Valley View offers educational tours on animal husbandry, orchard management, and beekeeping.
DuCard Winery: Located in the foothills of Shenandoah Park, DuCard is scenic as well as dog friendly – both inside the tasting room and outside. “Authenticity” is their byword, as all their wine is grown on their estate vineyard or close by.
The view here is outstanding, and it has one of the prettiest drives of any winery in the state. Especially popular are their petit verdot and Popham Run red blend. Extra props for sharing the proceeds for several wines to various charitable organizations.
Keswick Vineyards: Winemaker Stephen Barnard has won three Virginia Governor’s Cup awards, most recently for his 2014 Cabernet Franc Reserve. While Keswick takes its wines seriously, this location is the opposite of a snobby winery.
Keswick’s outstanding soil allows them to grow a number of varieties, including cabernet sauvignon and touriga nacional. But it’s as dog friendly as it is family friendly. Dogs are welcome on the covered patio and off-leash dog park.
Backporch Vineyard: Backporch is one of the Northern Neck’s newest wineries, opening in the summer of 2020. As the owners are dog-parents themselves they know the importance of having a space for well-behaved furry friends, so both the grounds and tasting room are open to dogs.
The barn-styled building is spacious, but be prepared for plenty of company from locals who also want to enjoy the view. Right now their wine is a mix of bottles from partnered Virginia wineries and those made under their own label.
Dog and Oyster Vineyard: The first part of their quirky name was created to honor their rescue dogs, which also ‘rescue’ the grapes from deer and other animals. The second half is a recognition of the oysters which are famous in the area. Dog owners are encouraged to take a photo with their pup at their “Show your love” signs, as few animals show unconditional love as much as a dog can.
The owners of Dog and Oyster also own the nearby Hope and Glory Inn, which includes a dog-friendly cottage. Make sure to pair their white wine with a seafood dish, sold at the winery.
Muse Vineyard: Situated in a micro-climate off the North Fork of the Shenandoah River, Muse has one of the most diverse vineyards in the state – including not just French grapes but lemberger, nebbiolo, and a dozen more. Its tasting room is open to people and dogs of all ages.
If you or your pup want some exercise, walk their self-guided nature trail through the vineyard, or the brand new Seven Bends State Park just down the road. Muse also has a full service kitchen.
Shenandoah Vineyards: Shenandoah Vineyards is the 2nd oldest winery in the state, founded in 1976. They are also very dog friendly, including an upstairs area for indoor picnicking.
Now owned by Charlottesville-based winemaker Michael Shaps, Shenandoah is a key part of his effort to find the best vineyards in the state. They currently have old-vine riesling, but their cabernet sauvignon is equally outstanding.
Author: Matthew Fitzsimmons is a blogger who has visited nearly every winery in Virginia – most of them twice. Track his progress at https://winetrailsandwanderlust.com/.