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Wine Dogs at BOW Bloggers Ball

Date: Sat, Mar 14, 2009 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs


Message: Roy, Izzy and I are checking out the new releases at Barrel Oak Winery. More later.

Munchkin



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Wine Dogs Go Spelunking at Cave Ridge

Date: Sat, Feb 28, 2009 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

Cave Ridge Vineyard
Mount Jackson, VA

The Wine Dogs continued their exploration of Shenadoah Valley wineries with a trip to Cave Ridge Vineyard. Cave Ridge is an estate winery, meaning they grow all the grapes used in their wines right there.

Owner and winemaker Randy Phillips planted the grapes in 2000, and opened the winery in 2006. Cave Ridge produces about 2,000 cases a year, and wants to stay small and focused. Randy's wines are dry in style, and all straight varietals (one kind of grape), except the Rambling Rose' (a blend of Traminette, Chamourcin, and Cab Franc).

Randy's wife, Karen, welcomed the Wine Dogs with open arms. Munchkin, Pomeroy, and Izzy made themselves at home in the comfortable tasting room. The low ceilings provided a cozy, cave-like feel, while the paneling and fireplace offered welcome warmth on a still chilly February afternoon. The winery is nestled between the Alleghenies and the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the big glass windows offer an excellent view. Munchkin went of to explore the kitchen, where resident wine dog Boomer, a Black Lab hangs out.

Marcie served as hostess, toasting the Wine Dogs' visit with Cave Ridge's Sparkling Traminette for starters. The bubbly was great on its own, and we're told it makes a great Mimosa for Sunday brunch (hint: use passion fruit juice instead of orange juice). Izzy likes the regular 2005 Traminette, which had a cinnamin finish that reminded her of apple butter.

The regular tasting features 10 wines, some with food pairings including a coffee-infused key lime chocolate with the Rose (none for the pups). There were two semi-vertical pairings (different vintages of the same wine for comparison). The first was the Viogner, actually two separate bottlings of the same vintage, but with fermentation stopped two days earlier on the first, leaving 2% residual sugar. Roy and Izzy approved, giving it two Poms up. Munchkin held out for the reds, which featured both an 05 and 06 Chambourcin. The o5 was the paws down favorite, with an intense flavor and juicy mouth feel.

All the reserve wines were standouts. We started with the 05 Viognier, Marcie's favorite among Cave Ridge's whites; the 05 Cab Franc has won lots of medals with a good nose and lots of legs; Munchkin was very enthusiastic about the fruit-forward 05 Petit Verdot (Karen's favorite) and thought she'd found her wine... until she tasted the 05 Syrah, recently judged best wine in its category in the Eastern United States.

But the best was yet to come. The Wine Dogs got to experience the release of the 06 Red Silk Barrel Select Cabernet Franc. The smooth (and yes, silky) sultry red had Munchkin begging for more, but just as she said "yes, yes, yes" tail wagging hard, the word came down "You can't buy it." This wine was only availble to Fossil Hill Wine Club members. The Wine Dogs will be back.
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Front Royal's Got a Wine Shop in It

Date: Fri, Feb 20, 2009 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

Vino e Formaggio
Front Royal, VA

There's a new Wine Shop in town...
and it's going to the Dogs.

Over President's Day weekend, Munchkin and Pomeroy took a trip into town (Front Royal) and discovered a wonderful new wine shop on Main Street -- Vino e Formaggio.

Top dog at the store is Christian Failmezger, a wine enthusiast who is eager to spread the love of the grape. The shop features wines in the $10-$20 range to encourage new winedrinkers to experiment and find the wines that set their tails a waggin'. The Virginia Wine Dogs were pleased to find a strong selection of Virginia wines (for those times when visiting the winery just isn't practical).

Vino e Formaggio offers weekend wine tastings (beer on Sundays) as part of their education campaign. They are "always fun and always free."

Munchkin was back the next weekend (February 20-22) for the special Vino e Formaggio Dog Benefit for the Warren County Humane Society, the Service Dogs of Virginia, the Saint Francis of Assisi Service Dog Foundation (dedicated to raising and training service dogs for assisting individuals with disabilities), and the San Francisco SPCA.

There was a special selection of dog-oriented wines, and on Saturday, local author, Hal Creel, was on hand to sign his book, Do Old Dogs Dream? Munchkin is not going to reveal her age, but listening to her contented sighs as she sleeps will give you a clue.

The book is a beautiful collection of photographs and poetry in loving tribute to Chester and other dogs of a certain age. And the author is donating all profits from the sale of this book to the rescue and care of old dogs.

For Munchkin, the top dog among the wines was the Liberty, a red blend from Château Morrisette here in Virginia. Check out the winery's website at www.thedogs.com (gotta love it). Chateau Morrissette donates a portion of the proceeds from Liberty and its sister white, Independence to Service Dogs of Virginia and the Saint Francis of Assisi Service Dog Foundation. Dan, Virginia. If you can't get out to Floyd, you can pick up a bottle at Vino et Formaggio.
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Wine Dogs Head South (to North Mountain)

Date: Mon, Jan 19, 2009 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs


Among their New Year's resolutions, Munchkin and Pomeroy pledged to branch out beyond their familiar Blue Ridge/Fauquier County wineries. Having met owner and winemaker John Jackson at the Shenandoah Balloon Festival and been impressed with his 2005 Chambourcin, the Wine Dogs put North Mountain at the top of their list for 2009.

North Mountain sits on 960 acres in Shenandoah County, one of the driest areas in the Eastern United States (good for letting the grapes get ripe and juicy on the vine). Most of the grapes are grown on the estate, with the vines tended by John’s stepfather, Brad Foster. The soil’s high limestone content gives the wines a distinctive taste. A good example is the Vidal Blanc, a unique expression of the wine that is dry, but not overpowering.

As they entered the tasting room, the Wine Dogs were greeted by John and Wolfie, a 4-month-old Belgian Sheep Dog, one of two new canine members of the North Mountain family. The other is Susie Q, a rescue beagle (Go Beagle!).

The lovely Lee led the Wine Dogs through a regular tasting of seven wines, followed by a sampling of seven limited production wines. When they were done, Lee remarked on Roy’s tongue hanging from his mouth, commenting “I don’t know if he’s had a lot of wine.”

The Wine Dogs found the 2006 Cabernet Franc Reserve had an especially nice finish. Lee told us the Mountain Midnight, a Port-style wine but softer and less sweet, made her “want to sing and dance,” but it was the 2005 Chambourcin that got Munchkin up on her hind legs. Not usually much for fruit, Munchkin couldn’t resist the Mountain Sunset Apple Blush, and the Spiced Holiday Wine, warmed in the microwave, was a great antidote to the winter chill.

After tasting the '07 Claret (100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon), which John said will mature nicely if you set it down a year, the Wine Dogs chose a bottle of the '06 to enjoy. The indoor facilities were comfortable, with fireplace and large windows overlooking the still domant vines.
As a special treat, John took the Wine Dogs down to the intimate Barrel Room, where congressmen and other VIPs are entertained. There they got to check out the 07 Cabernet Franc as well as Late Vidal, which was still suffering from bottle shock but showed excellent promise.

The Wine Dogs are planning a return visit to North Mountain on February 28 for the annual Chili Cook-Off, where Roy’s dad will compete for top chili dog.


INTRODUCING IZZY: No, you’re not seeing double. The third Wine Dog (in the middle) is Isabella. Like Roy, Izzy is a Pomeranian. Although new to winetasting, she is quickly developing a taste for the grape.
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Munchkin Enjoys a Most Civilized Wine Tasting

Date: Sat, Nov 15, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

Vintage Ridge Vineyards
Rectorstown, VA

The Wine Dogs are in full agreement with Ernst Hemmingway, who observed "Wine is the most civilized thing in the world." At Vintage Ridge, they know how to make wine tasting an extremely civilized experience as well, with unique food pairings that are part of every tasting.

Vintage Ridge is one of the new Fauquier County wineries, opening its tasting room in September 2007. Although Pomeroy was unable to make the trip, a full squad was on hand... er, on paw... to greet Munchkin when she arrived on a mid-November afternoon.

The winery dogs include a pointer hound, an Austrailian shepherd, a chow and a spaniel. They led her to a warmly decorated tasting room, filled with tables and chairs, colorful murals, and a roomful of guests clearly enjoying the experience. Steel tanks, where the next vintage was fermenting, lined the room.

Enthusiastic host Bill Edmands, who started the winery with his wife Vicki in 2000 when they planted their first vines, warmly welcomed Munchkin and her party. He explained that along with the wines, they would enjoy an array of cheeses, sauces, chutneys, and meats intended to heighten the appreciation of the wine offerings.

The wines included both the 2006 and 2007 Maiden Voyage, a citrusy white wine beautifully enhanced by the appetizers. Other wines on the tasting list included a 2005 Cabernet Franc, 2006 Syrah, and the Summer Night 2007 and 2006 Late Harvest Vidal, described as "a dessert in itself."

Realizing that he had a true red wine connoisseur in house, Bill brought out his '04 Cab Franc, which was smooth and spicey. He followed up with the Petit Verdot, which Munchkin decided was top dog.

After enjoying a bottle and the rest of the appetizers, Munchkin was ready to join the Vintage Ridge pack.

Mom insisted she go home, but she looks forward to returning with Pomeroy to enjoy the view from the patio in April with Vintage Ridge reopens for the spring.

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Munchkin's Grape Adventure

Date: Mon, Oct 13, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

Barrel Oak Winery

Delaplane, VA

With the first batch of Wine Dog Wine safely in bottles and aging to perfection thanks to the expert guidance of teacher John Todhunter of Three Fox Vineyards, Munchkin and Pomeroy decided they were ready to strike out on their own.

They already had the equipment... but where to find fruit. Munchkin emailed her many winery friends announcing "Wine Dogs in Search of Grapes." After reviewing her offers, she selected Barrel Oak Winery for Wine Dogs 2.0.

IMPORTANT LESSON FOR WINEMAKERS: The timeline for winemaking is set by the grapes, not the winemaker. When the fruit is ripe, it's harvested. Once it's harvested, it's going to start fermenting whether you're ready or not.

Virginia had a good growing season in 2008, with a dry fall. But by the second week in October, the weather was starting to change, and the grapes came flying off the vines to be crushed and destemmed. So on Columbus Day, Munchkin high-tailed it to BOW, primary fermentation unit in paw. Winemaker Sharon Roeder generously opened up her vats and Munchkin chose the Virginia standard, Cab Franc. Of course.


Remembering her lessons, Munchkin knew the importance of good sanitation. Sharon helped her wash down the PFU before and after filling.
Then Munchkin, with a little assistance from Sharon, made sure the lid was on good and tight. Wouldn't want the grape juice sloshing around in the jeep!




Mission accomplished, Munchkin gave Sharon a big kiss to thank her for the grapes, which she knows will make a really fine wine.
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October is Virginia Wine (Dog) Month

Date: Wed, Oct 1, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

Munchkin and Pomeroy celebrate fall
with Redmund -- Pearmund Cellars' Wine Dog extraordiaire.

It was very clever of the Virginia Tourism folks to make October Virginia Wine Month. There's no better time to get out of the dog house and visit Virginia wine country than October. The days are cool and pleasant; the brilliant fall foliage creates a perfect backdrop for picnicking among the leaves with a bottle of Virginia's finest.

This year's 20th Anniversary theme is "Find the one you love," and with more than 130 wineries around the state (up from 30 when Virignia Wine Month started), there's plenty of great choices. You can sample several at one at festivals like the Mt. Vernon Wine Festival and Sunset Tour (Oct. 3-5) or the Shenandoah Hot Air Balloon and Wine Festival (Oct. 17-17). The Wine Dogs hope to see there abd along the Blue Ridge Wine Way or Fauquier County Wine Trail. Click here for suggestions of 20 ways to celebrate Virginia Wine Month or read the write-up in USA Today
and the New York Times.

P.S. If you're looking to find the fur-baby you love, you might want to check out the Country Canine Jamborie on October 4 in Leesburg. There will be adoptable fuzzy furries on site, in addition to canine games and demonstrations, country cooking and lots of fun.
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It's Greek to the Wine Dogs

Date: Tue, Sep 30, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

The Wine Dogs decided to venture south, destination Mediterranean Cellars, Virginia’s own taste of Greece.

Passing between two white columns, Munchkin and Pomeroy entered the winery and were warmly greeted by Katie Papadopoulos, who started the winery with her husband, Louis, 18 years ago.

The five-year-old tasting room has the charm of a shop in the Greek countryside, with clean white walls and rich wood shelves filled with all kinds of goodies. Munchkin’s mouth was watering.

On one wall hangs a picture of Lucia Papadopoulos, Louis’s mother. Katie told us Louis is a third-generation goldsmith but has been making wine all his life, his first vintage in 1961 in his native Greece.
Against another is a portrait honoring Apollo, the house canine who followed from the gold shop. The Wine Dogs were sad to learn he passed away last year.

What started as a hobby for Louis has become a full-time vocation. He produces 13 wines, all made from grapes grown in Meediterranean's own vineyards.

Munchkin and Pomeroy found a perch by the tasting bar, and sampled the offerings – six whites, six reds, and one rose’. All of the wines were gentle and understated. Munchkin liked the honey tones and light, flirty taste of the 2005 Sweet Lucia. Pomeroy was attracted to the strong nose of the 2004 Chambourcin Special Reserve.

The 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon was one of two Virginia cabs featured in London as part of the Jamestown 400th Anniversary celebration. Two years in oak produced with legs a model would envy (and Munchkin certainly does), and a long finish that reaches in and spreads through you.

Also notable is the Rechina, Mediterranean’s version of the wine that has graced Athenian dinner tables since the 13th century B.C. One can just imagine it complimenting grilled lamb and olives with its earthy scent of pine resin and spicy finish.

Selecting a bottle of the 2004 Romance, a light blend of Chambourcin and Merlot, the Wine Dogs retired to the arbor. Under a trellis dripping with grapes, surrounded by fountains and grecian urns, they enjoyed an afternoon repast of wine and bread and cheese. The map may say Virginia, but the feel is classic Greek.
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Wine Dogs Toast New Arrival

Date: Wed, Sep 24, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

Munchkin and Pomeroy extend a warm welcome to Cortoman, the new Wine Dog at the Phillip Carter Winery of Virginia. We're expecting big things from him... he is, after all an American Mastiff. Can't wait to hear how Fairfax is adapting to her new brother.

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Going to the Dogs in Alexandria

Date: Thu, Sep 11, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

Doggone it! We're not making it out to the mountains, but Munchkin and Pomeroy aren't wining because there's so much going on here at home in Alexandria.

Kick off the weekend early with Doggie Happy Hour at the Hotel Monaco from 5 to 8 pm this Thursday (and every Tuesday &Thursday through October). Director of Pet Relations "Charlie," a very handsome Bichon, ensures all Wine Dogs have a great time.

It's also 2nd Thursday Art Night in Alexandria. Art gallaries and businesses throughout Old Town will stay open and participate with free events. There's a special 9-11 candlelight vigil at the Torpedo Factory dock at 8:30 PM.

The theme this week is "Art Is Everywhere," and more so than ever with with the Alexandria Festival of the Arts in town. Grab your leash and hit the street (King St., that is). Traffic on Saturday and Sunday is blocked from Washington Street down to the River so hundreds of artists from across the country can display their talents. A "must do" on Munchkin's annual calendar, and she always runs into so many puppy patron pals along the way. Wine Dogs will appreciates the sidewalk cafes set up by many of Old Town's finest restaurants along the way, and especially the considerately places water bowls outside many shops.

On Saturday, our friends at the FernStreet Gourmet are teaming up with A la Lucia at 315 Madison Street for a salon-style wine tasting featuring the 06 "BIG DOGS" FROM BURGUNDY. Thre's a $35 charge, $10 of which goes to the D.C. Multiple Sclerosis Society.

And finally, there's the Olde Towne Dogge Walke on Sunday, September 14. The mile-and-a-half walk kicks off from Munchkin's alma mater, the Olde Towne School for Dogs at 9 a.m. Proceeds will go to the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria for the care of abandoned and homeless animals in the community.
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Wine Dogs Get Happy at Yappy Hour

Date: Wed, Aug 27, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

Outer Barks

Duck, NC

An absolute must on every Wine Doggie's schedule when visiting the Outer Banks is Yappy Hour, held at the Outer Barks at the Shoppes at Scarborough Lane. Hosts Kevin and Robin Carey ensure that everyone has a doggone good time.

On most Wednesdays, the field behind the store is filled with all kinds of games and entertainment to keep for vacationing furkids and their families.

Munchkin gets a chance to show off her agility...

and Roy can impress the ladies with his prowess in the pool..

Even this year's rainy afternoon couldn't dampen the Yappy Hour spirits. A little drizzle is no reason to let those specially prepared Arf d'Ouvres that Munchkin loves to munch or the potent Dogquiri cocktails Roy enjoys sipping go to waste.

To help everyone stay dry, the venue was moved to the deck in front of the store. Munchkin wasted no time diving into the turkey fritata and apple spice cake that Robin had prepared.

And Pomeroy savored the cool Puppachino.

The Wine Dogs met up with dogs by the dozens, including dachshounds and labs, a Maltese duo and aptly named Beefy the Bull Dog. Munchkin and Pomeroy also got a chance to show off their artistic skills with a little paw painting.


The Wine Dogs finished the evening with a shop-til-you-drop run through the store, which stocks their favorites from Bark Vineyards... Barkundy, Sauvignon Bark, and Pinot Leasheo. Munchkin picked up a copy of Yorkie Diaries for beach reading.
The only think missing was Robin, who was taking one of the Outer Barks Keeshondens for cancer treatment. The Wine Dogs send puppy prayers, and remind everyone that donations at Yappy Hour help the Friends of Pooh, a 501(c)(3) non-profit or-ganization to help Dare and Currituck County dogs and cats with cancer receive the necessary treatment.
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Of Light Houses and Light Beer... Wine Dogs Go Island Hopping

Date: Tue, Aug 26, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

On Tuesday, Munchkin and Pomeroy decided it was time to explore the southern shores of the Outer Banks. Aboard the North Carolina Ferry in Hatteras, the Wine Dogs created quite a stir when passengers recognized the celebs on board in their Cheers Chairs.




The Wine Dogs were able to enjoy a harborside lunch in the quaint fishing village of Ocracoke, watching the action at the Jolly Roger, a perfect place to waste away. Pomeroy's Dad was tempted to stay behind, but Munchkin and Pomeroy wanted to explore the famous Outer Banks lighthouses...

at Ocracoke...


and Hatteras...


and Corolla.

Munchkin also checked in on her latest business venture, the Munchkin Academy of Wine. Pomeroy, however, played hookie and was discovered tail-gating and wagging.

Apparently, the salty sea air left both Wine Dogs hankering for a cold one. So on the way home they pulled into the Brew Thru to pick up a case of light beer (Munchkin knows a girl's got to watch her figure; but Pomeroy insisted they stop at Pig Man for BBQ to take back home to woof down.



Wednesday is the famous Outer Barks Yappy Hour. The Wine Dogs can't wait!
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Wine Dogs Enjoy Sun and Surf

Date: Mon, Aug 25, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

It's been great weather here in Duck. Long walks on the beach in the morning. Lazing in our new beach chairs all afternoon. Cocktails watching the sunset over the inlet in the evenings. It's a dog's life, and we love it!

Munchkin and Pomeroy
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Wine Dogs Having Whale of a Time in NC

Date: Wed, Aug 20, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs











The Whalehead Club
Corolla, NC

Munchkin and Roy took time out from the beach to check out the weekly Wednesday afternoon Wine Festival at the Whalehead Club on the Currituck Sound. Julia Jordan, whose job was to educate us about "the club" while pouring delicious French wines, told us the Whalehead is actually a beautifully restored home originally built in the 1920s. It's got 21,000 square feet... that's some dog house with room for lots of puppies!

As two- and four-legged oenophiles sampled the various wine offerings, local performer Kim Kalman entertained with her sultry, voice, accompanied by sounds guitar. The Wine Dogs first discovered Kim's singing a couple of years ago in Duck, and it's always a treat to hear her play.


While Pomeroy explored the marshes, Munchkin found her niche wine among a wide array of offerings from the Corolla Wine, Cigar, and Gourmet shop.


The Wine Dogs were especially impressed with the pawsitive hospitality provided by Tom, whose family owns GiGi's Coastal Italian Restuarant. He has promised a dog-friendly deck and Mom's homemade sauces and Tiramisu. Dinner on Saturday... Munchkin is already salivating.

Munchkin and Pomeroy also got to check out Moonrise Bay, one of the local North Carolina wineries. It's located on Knotts Island, along with Martin Orchard & Vineyards. You have to take a furry boat to get there. Go figure. They had several wines, including a Muscadine, made from native grapes, and a raspberry wine which must have been quite popular because it was all gone before we got there.


Speaking of moonrise, the Wine Festival finishes just as the sun begins to set over the sound. Wine Dogs recommend filling your glass and staking out a picnic table to relax and enjoy.
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