Anthropologists believe the “domestication event” that led to wolves becoming Canis lupus familiaris—a.k.a. the modern dog—occured about 10,000 years ago. Coincidentally, this is also the same time frame that Neolithic humans started making wine from grapes.
By my reckoning, that makes the concept of a “wine dog” inevitable and a “Dogs of Wine Country” cover of Wine Spectator magazine irresistible. Yep, the world’s leading authority on wine has gone to the dogs.
The March issue of the venerable wine magazine profiles over a dozen dogs who accompany their winemaker owners at wineries throughout Sonoma and Napa.
“The issue’s purpose,” according to a statement, is to “bring smiles and spread happiness. Because why not?” This is the same rationale I use when opening a second bottle, so I wholeheartedly endorse the project.
“This special issue, which is near and dear to my heart, has been three years in the making,” said Marvin R. Shanken, the mag’s editor and publisher. “If you have a pet, you will especially enjoy this issue. If you don’t have a pet, we hope to inspire you to consider adopting one.”
For those who like to pair their pinot with a pup, the Dogs of Wine Country issue also features a roundup of pet-friendly tasting rooms (so no more fibbing that Butch is a trained “emotional support dog” as he gnaws on your pant leg).
Dogs have long worked in the wine biz. Vineyard dogs ward off intruding animals and stray bachelorette parties, and some are trained to use their keen senses of smell to sniff out vine diseases such as grapevine mealybug. They protect flocks of sheep, which are increasingly used to do the weeding, and in the post “5 Reasons Every Winery Needs a Dog,” Modern Farmer offers anecdotal evidence that dogs boost on-premise wine sales.
Wine Spectator isn’t the only fan of canines and wine; Wine Dogs has been publishing books, calendars and other merch featuring dogs living and working in the vineyard, winery and tasting rooms of “wineries around the globe” since 1997, indicating that mutts and merlot is less a trend and more a cottage industry. Can cats and cannabis be next?
Readers are encouraged to submit their own dog photos for an opportunity to be featured on the Wine Spectator website at WineSpectator.com/DogPhotos. The March issue becomes available Feb. 16 to humans and pets everywhere.
And, since I’ve run short on pupper puns, permit me to crib from Shakespeare, who would cry havoc and, “Let sip the dogs of wine!”
Daedalus Howell shares a bowl of wine at DaedalusHowell.com.