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After a year of being cooped up at home with their wine-loving owners, it’s only natural for four-legged friends to expect an invitation to the vineyards. Luckily, many of the nearly 260 wineries across North Carolina welcome dogs on the property. Several vineyards even provide treats, water bowls, and other amenities to make it an enjoyable experience for well-trained owners and their pets. (To keep the experience pleasant for all visitors, dog owners are asked to keep dogs on a leash and clean up any messes.)
These vineyards offer a variety of wines made from European varietals and native grapes and host a wide range of events throughout the year (too many to list here, so we focused on July). Wine connoisseurs and novices alike may partake in wine tastings and flights while overlooking mountains, rivers, and fields of vines. Extend the experience at nearby pet-friendly accommodations on the property or within a half-hour drive of the vineyard.
Right now, these 12 vineyards (in alphabetical order) are the best bets for a dog-friendly adventure in North Carolina:
Enjoy Banner Elk Winery’s outdoor seating with tables, chairs, and plenty of grassy areas overlooking a pond and creek with wooden horse and elk sculptures. Water bowls and dog treats are available upon request.
What to drink: Get cozy in the vineyard’s tasting room. Its leather couches, fireplace, and local artwork set the scene for sipping Banner Elk’s award-winning signature wines: Blueberry Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Marechal Foch, and Seyval Blanc. Wine tastings include six wines and two sangrias. Choose four wines for a wine flight. Bottles and wine by the glass are also offered.
What to do: Rent the gazebo for a small private event. Local musicians play every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Visit July 10, 2021, for the Chili Cookoff.
Duplin Winery is a one-hour drive from Wilmington’s beaches and its outdoor patio is open to dogs. Everyone’s tails are wagging at the vineyard’s market: Among the eclectic selection, you’ll find gifts and items for pets and pet lovers.
What to drink: Tastings include at least 10 wines and always include a Sweetzer–Duplin’s version of a wine slushie. Favorites are Hatteras Red, Carolina Red, and Black River Red. In between sips, savor Duplin Gourmet house-made crackers and cheese dip prepared with Duplin Gourmet Muscadine Pineapple Salsa.
What to do: The Bistro, the winery’s on-site restaurant with patio seating, serves burgers, fried green tomatoes, grilled pimento cheese, shrimp po’boys, and a variety of cheesecakes. Look for live music on select Saturdays in July. Come for the “Summer Beach Bash Girls Night Out” on July 30.
Your dog will feel at home with Grandfather Vineyard & Winery’s four dogs: Casey, Willa, Hallie (all border collies) and Zoe-Belle (English Labrador). Zoe is featured on the Provenance Series bottle with the vineyard’s owner, Steve Tatum. Dogs and owners may trot through the five acres of vineyards and play in the river running through the property. All seating is outdoors: Adirondack chairs along the river, cabanas, and picnic tables. Bring blankets and chairs to spread out. Several water bowls may be found on the property and an on-site food truck offers ‘Pup Cup’ treats.
What to drink: Flights, glasses, and bottles in a variety of dry reds and whites, sweets, sparkling wines and ciders are offered.
The vote goes to the cats and dogs! Hidden Vineyard’s board of directors includes a cat and three dogs: Harvest (orange and white male cat), Hadar (registered fawn brindle male whippet), Scout (male Beagle), and Tango (Golden Retriever—who might be seen chasing the ranger through the vineyard). Hidden Vineyard welcomes pets with dog treats, water bowls, walks through the vineyard, and occasionally, a charcuterie for pups. Come find plenty of seating for people and their pets.
What to drink: Wine tastings, five-wine flights, and bottles are available. Some of Hidden Vineyard’s most popular wines include the 2018 Claus (Chambourcin), 2018 Franc the Tank (Cabernet Franc with blueberry juice), 2019 Lunch Box (Chardonnay), 2019 Pilot Path (Petit Manseng), 2020 Chill (Merlot Blush), and 2018 131 (Cabernet Sauvignon).
What to do: July is packed with live music by artists such as Big Daddy Mojo, Laurel Woods Duo and The Happy Ones. Various food trucks, including The Cannoli Man, Lobster Dogs, and The Lucky Clover, will be on site throughout July.
Linville Falls Winery attracts Linville Gorge enthusiasts. The vineyard’s expansive lawn, anchored by a pond, will leave you panting. Bring picnic blankets and camp chairs to spread out. Pepper, the vineyard’s family dog, naps at home these days, dreaming about running through the property’s 40 acres. If you and your dog have extra energy to burn off, walk to the lookout deck at the top of the property. You’ll find tables on the main patio overlooking the pond and lawn.
What to drink: Dry, off-dry, and sweet Rieslings are the vineyard’s specialty. Wine flights include four wines chosen from the menu.
What to do: Weekends feature food trucks and live music.
Relax in grassy areas, on patios, and under a pavilion at Piccione Vineyards. Look for Eloise, a shy two-year-old Shih Tzu who serves as the vineyard’s mascot. Bring picnic blankets and chairs for a place to sit on busier days. Dog bowls are placed around the outdoor areas.
What to drink: Piccione’s signature wines are dry Italian varietals: Montepulciano, Nero, and Vermentino. Piccione is the first vineyard in North Carolina to plant Negroamaro, a red wine grape variety native to southern Italy. Pick any four wines for a flight.
What to do: Sign up for an “In the Vineyard” workshop to learn about the life cycle and growing process of the grapevines and vineyard. Saturdays and Sundays in July mean food trucks and live music. James Vincent Carroll, Mike Coia, Jacob + Forrest, Susanna Macfarlane, and other musicians will perform between 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Food trucks such as Cousins Maine Lobster, Kebab Curry & Soul Food, and Southern on Wheels set up from noon to 5 p.m.
Festus, Chester, Sammy—rescue dogs named for male characters in the television show “Gunsmoke”—and Dolly serve as mascots for Roaring River Vineyards. The dogs follow the winery’s owner, Tom Silvey, around during tours of the property. Dogs are permitted under the covered deck and at the picnic tables on the riverbank. Dogs will bark for joy when they find out they can swim in the Roaring River.
What to drink: Signature wines include Chambourcin, Norton, and Traminette. Tastings are at the bar or in flights.
What to do: Join a tour which includes a tasting with six wines and learn about the vineyard, a truffle farm, and its historical sites.
Catch Phoebe and Romeo, Round Peak Vineyard’s mascots, at the winery on Saturdays. They set the tone for this dog-friendly vineyard that boasts trails and a fenced-in area for off-leash play. Pamper your fur baby with custom-made dog treats from Yappy Hour Bakery, a mobile bakery and boutique for dogs.
What to drink: Signature wines include Nebbiolo, Montepulciano, and Fiddlers Red, all dry wines. The Sweetest Thang Pink is the vineyard’s popular sweet wine. Tastings are categorized by dry or semi-dry/sweet wine. Also enjoy beer, ciders, and hard seltzers on tap from Skull Camp Brewing, a sister company to Round Peak.
What to do: Play the 18-hole disc golf course through the vineyards. Listen to live music on July 3 and 17 from 1-4 p.m. Ask for a tour of the vineyard. Been sniffing around for some family-friendly events? Join the overnight camping this fall, a dog-friendly activity.
Walking trails, a river for dog dips, and doggie treats make Serre (rhymes with “rare”) Vineyards a stopping point for wine drinkers and their pets. Indoor seating and almost unlimited outdoor seating face the Blue Ridge Mountains. Although Serre Vineyard’s Fuego, a Frenchton, passed away this year, his story lives on: Two sweet wines, Fuego Peach and Fuego Sangria, are named for him. Rosie, also a Frenchton, recently joined the vineyard.
What to drink: The 2016 The Early Blend and the 2018 The Blend are the vineyard’s signature wines. Tastings includes all 13 wines on the menu.
What to do: Show off your downward-facing dog pose July 17 and 18, part of the Serre’s monthly yoga series. Ask for a self-guided hiking map with three miles of trails. Live music and food trucks are scheduled on weekends.
Picnic tables and Adirondack chairs throughout Shelton Vineyards welcome guests to sit, relax, and enjoy the wine (or water for dogs). Lavish gifts upon your pup: Find leashes, toys, and hand-woven Yadkin Valley Baskets dog beds on site.
What to drink: Bin 17 Chardonnay, Yadkin Valley Riesling, and Madison Lee Red top the charts at Shelton. Tasting options include a non-reserve or reserve tasting, each with five wines, from sweet to dry.
What to do: Visit on July 17 to take part in the “Summer Concert Series” featuring the Band of Oz. Look for food trucks and the Harvest Grill Express. Tours are three times daily, Monday through Saturday at noon, 2, and 4 p.m. One Sunday tour is at 3 p.m. For a special occasion, consider the Gazebo Tasting, a private tour and tasting at the highest point on the estate, for more than four people.
Lil’ Bear, Callie, Lily, and Gus are the original four mascots for Silver Fork Winery. A portion of yearly sales are donated to a local nonprofit: A Better Life Animal Rescue. Outdoor seating in the shade and sun provides views of the South Mountains. Bring chairs and blankets for a picnic in the grass. Walks through the vineyard are a treat for you and your pup.
What to drink: Silver Fork Winery’s signature wine is Four Dog Red Blend, a dry Bordeaux red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. Flights are offered Wednesday through Friday and Sunday.
What to do: Come out for “SIT STAY DRINK,” a fundraising event for ABLAR, on July 25. See if your pup can make it through the doggie obstacle course. Enjoy live music from 2-5 p.m. every Saturday.
At Thistle Meadow Winery, dogs scamper through meadows and splash in creeks—sometimes with the vineyard dogs, Bandit and Ries (short for Riesling). Grab a seat for an outdoor setting of your choice: On a porch, near a creek, or by a covered bridge.
What to drink: Signature wines include the Horse Stomp Red, a sweet raspberry-flavored White Zinfandel, and Italian Stud, a dry Super Tuscan style red and a perennial award winner. Lucky Black, a sweet blackberry flavored Merlot, is named for the vineyard’s black Labrador. Lucy Lou Rosé, a dry Grenache Rosé, is named after Lucy, its recently deceased Beagle. Choose five wines for a tasting: The menu has more than 20.
What to do: Celebrate Independence Day on July 3 with Asheville singer and songwriter Ashley Heath from 1-4 p.m. Kalman’s Bon Appetit food truck will be serving from 12-4 p.m. Play bocce, Jenga and Connect 4 on any day you visit.
Vanessa Infanzon moved to North Carolina for college and never left. She lives in a renovated 105-year-old house in NoDa, her home neighborhood for more than 20 years. When not writing about food and travel, she can be found paddleboarding at the U.S. National Whitewater Center.