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Paws-down, these five-woof wineries are worth the drive..
Story by Ginger Warder
While many of Virginia’s more than 280 wineries are dog-friendly to some degree, there are a handful of vintners that roll out the red carpet—and the swimming pools and the doggie ice cream truck—for Fido! Most of the Old Dominion’s pet-friendly vineyards offer water bowls and doggie treats, but these five go above and beyond to welcome your furry friend.
Barrel Oak Winery: Bow Wow!
Photo Credit: Barrel Oak Winery
Named by Wine Enthusiast and many local Virginians as the most dog- and family friendly winery in the state, Barrel Oak Winery (BOW) puts out swimming pools for four-legged visitors in the hot, humid summers—some guests and kids also find the pools irresistible —and welcomes well-behaved, leashed pooches in the tasting room, on the patio, and on the property’s hiking trails. Owners Brian and Sharon Roeder have their own “pack” of winery dogs and celebrate canines with paw prints on the tasting menu and pooch portraits on some of their wine labels. “We didn’t want to just sell wine…we wanted to create a place of community,” Brian said.
The award-winning winery—known especially for its Reserve Chardonnay and Reserve Norton—hosts an annual Dog Daze of Summer weekend filled with special treats from dog washes and doggie gelatos to competitions for best canine smile and best handshake. Human treats include craft beers, great food and live music. But if you can’t make it to Dog Daze, pack the pooch and a picnic for a visit anytime.
Keswick Vineyards: The Best Yappy Hours in Virginia
Located in the heart of the Monticello AVA near Charlottesville, Keswick Vineyards is known for its Sunday Yappy Hours. From May through October, every Sunday a local animal shelter or rescue group brings adoptable dogs to mingle with guest canines. A portion of tasting room sales are donated to the visiting group and the fenced, off-leash dog park makes four-legged socializing safe and easy. Don’t be surprised to see a doggie ice cream truck on hot summer days dishing up cool canine treats.
You can bring your own picnic or purchase a variety of light meats, cheese, crackers, and snacks from the tasting room store. Be sure to try the Viognier or Cabernet Franc, both regular winners in the Virginia Governor’s Cup.
The tasting room offers vineyard and mountain views—in fact, the stunning scenery makes Keswick a popular destination wedding site—and with the covered porch, picnic tables, and expansive green space, there’s plenty of room to relax outdoors. Dogs are also allowed inside, and the enclosed heated patio offers live music during dreary winter days.
Chateau Morrisette: Gone to the Dogs
Accompanied by his faithful black Labrador Retriever, Hans, David Morrisette planted his first vines in the Blue Ridge Mountains in 1978. At that time, there were no working wineries in Virginia. In 1991, Morrisette produced The Black Dog Wine in honor of Hans, who also inspired the Chateau Morrisette crest and its uber-pet-friendly attitude. How can you not love a winery whose URL is www.thedogs.com?
Today, one of the state’s largest wineries, Chateau Morrisette welcomes pups in its gorgeous tasting room, winery courtyard, tasting patio, and even on the balcony of its award-winning restaurant. Enjoy live music on Sundays in the courtyard or bring your four-legged friends to one of the many Black Dog music festivals during the summer. The gift shop offers an array of pet-centric gifts from black-dog wine glasses to stuffed replicas of Hans.
Chateau Morrisette hosts several pet adoption days during the year and even offers travel packages that include lodging at nearby partner hotels.
Dog & Oyster Vineyard: Wine and Oyster Pairings
The Hope & Glory Inn, a longtime favorite lodging option in the Northern Neck, acquired an existing vineyard in 2011 that the innkeepers’ son Mark Hollingsworth was managing. Named for the family’s rescue dogs—who guard the grapes from native wildlife—and for the area’s prized bivalves, the Dog & Oyster Vineyard is a healthy walk or short bike ride away from the Inn and from the town of Irvington. Just look for the giant corkscrew and you’ll know you’ve arrived!
Dog & Oyster prides itself on wine and oyster pairings and celebrates that distinction with vintages such as Oyster White and Pearl, while Shelter Dog Red pays homage to man’s best friend. The vineyard’s outdoor patio, Slurp, offers Chesapeake oysters in a variety of preparations: get them on the half-shell, “Rivah roasted,” fried, or in sandwiches like a traditional Po’ Boy or Virginia slider with Smithfield ham and Chesapeake remoulade.
Leashed dogs are welcome on the grounds and at Slurp, plus the Inn offers a dog-friendly cottage, as well as a restaurant featuring farm-to-table and boat-to-table fare. Foodies and their furry friends might also visit the weekly Irvington Farmer’s Market to pick up some local goodies to tote home.
DuCard Vineyards: Virginia’s Only Solar-Powered Winery
Photo Credit: DuCard Vineyards
Named the Virginia Green Winery of the Year in 2016, DuCard takes its social responsibility and sustainability seriously. Both the tasting room and winery are solar-powered by roof panels while the flooring and bar are crafted from reclaimed local hardwoods, including from century-old barns on the property.
Nestled on the edge of Shenandoah National Park, this small-production winery offers spectacular mountain views from the cathedral ceiling window in the tasting room. Dogs are welcome on the shady side patio that overlooks a mountain stream and the vineyards, as well as inside where a fireplace and comfortable seating make a cozy hideaway on cold or rainy days. Live music is routinely staged on Saturdays—indoors or on the patio, depending on the weather—and a variety of snacks such as charcuterie, cheese, and dessert platters are available. Non-drinkers or designated drivers can enjoy sodas and water on the house.
DuCard hosts an annual Dog Days of Summer event that benefits the Madison County Animal Shelter. Admission is free for people and their pooches though donations are encouraged. Enter your pal in the costume contest or the Frisbee-catching competition. Or just kick back and enjoy the live music and festivities while sipping a glass of the award-winning Viognier—the 2016 took the gold medal in Virginia’s Governor’s Cup.
The winery also offers seated wine flights and a special private barrel room food and wine experience. Be sure to take some wine home with you—DuCard does not sell in retail stores—or join the wine club so you don’t miss the next great vintage.
Located in the Meadows of Dan off the Blue Ridge Parkway and an easy drive from Roanoke.
Sit & Stay: The winery offers a Mountain Blooms Spring Getaway Package (April-June) that includes a $100 lodging voucher for any of the participating Lodging Partners, a wine tasting for two with souvenir glass, an $85 Chateau Morrisette Gift Card and a coupon for 20% off in the tasting room.
Dog & Oyster
Located on the Northern Neck near the Rappahannock River and the charming town of Irvington.
Sit & Stay: The Hope & Glory Inn has one pet-friendly cottage. Nearby, The Tides Inn Resort on the river welcomes dogs weighing 75 pounds or less and provides amenities including a doggie biscuit barrel, a bed and water bowl, a map of pet relief areas on the property (along with waste bags), and a pet door hanger. Nightly pet fee.