SAN FRANCISCO – Although wine tasting and touring has traditionally been a people-only activity, more and more California wineries are opening their doors to pets – okay, mostly dogs – as tourists show a penchant for taking Fido on the road. At the same time, many California vineyards and wineries are catering to families by offering special activities and refreshments for those not old enough to taste wine.
“Because wine has become an integral part of American culture and lifestyle, we are seeing more and more people choosing California wine country as a weekend getaway and vacation destination for the entire family,” commented Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, President and CEO of Wine Institute.
In time for the busy tourist season ahead as well as California Wine Month in September 2008—as declared by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger—Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers have developed downloadable lists of pet- and family-friendly wineries and vineyards in California. Available atwww.californiawineevents.com in the press room, these lists are intended to help wine country travelers plan weekend and vacation trips that are fun for the entire family.
“Many California vineyards and wineries keep dogs and other pets on their properties, and because so many of these businesses are family-owned, children are an integral part of wine country as well,” said Karen Ross, President of the California Association of Winegrape Growers. “Welcoming dogs, pets and families to wine country is a natural.”
While some wineries have dogs who act as mascots and friendly greeters, others welcome pets into their tasting rooms, offering water and even the occasional doggie treat. Still others take dog-friendliness to a whole different level. Kirigin Cellars in Gilroy has eleven acres of grass and fields, and often hosts dog clubs, dog rally and agility events and championship practices. “We’ve found that among all the other things we could do to promote the winery, being good to dogs carries the most goodwill,” says Maria Bruhns, Kirigin’s tasting room manager.
Children are also finding more to do at wineries. Venezio Vineyards & Winery in the Sierra Foothills offers tie-dying with wine, pumpkin painting, and barrel bung tossing at an annual fall festival, while Bianchi Vineyards in Paso Robles has remote control sailboats on its lake. Many vineyards offer crayons, chalk, coloring books and kid-friendly snacks. And at some, there’s a lot more to see than the inside of a tasting room: An active beehive is one of the features at OnThEdge Winery in Calistoga, and pygmy goats, a pot-bellied pig, llamas, sheep and large land tortoises are part of the scenery at Milano Family Winery in Hopland.
For more information about visiting California wine country, go towww.californiawineevents.com or www.landofwineandfood.com.
About Wine Institute
Established in 1934, the Wine Institute is the public policy advocacy group of more than 1,100 California wineries and affiliated businesses that initiate and advocate state, federal and international public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine. The Wine Institute membership represents 85 percent of U.S. production and 95 percent of U.S. wine exports. For more information about Wine Institute, go towww.wineinstitute.org
About The California Association of Winegrape Growers
Established in 1974, the California Association of Winegrape Growers represents the growers of more than 50 percent of the gross grape tonnage crushed for wine and concentrate in California. The statewide association is an advocate for farmers, providing leadership on public policies, research and education programs, sustainable farming practices and trade policy to enhance the California winegrape growing business and our communities. For more information about CAWG, visitwww.cawg.org