Friday, September 12, 2008

Wine Industry and Dogs

The wine industry and dogs clearly have a special relationship. This goes back to the early vineyards in Europe where the dogs were protection for the owners as well as to scare other animals off the vineyards-a simple summary. Well, of course, it has evolved and for many of us, taken on a very different role.

When I acquired the winery, there had never been a winery dog for DCW. Now, I can't say if that was a good or bad thing but I knew we were missing a key piece to the puzzle-which was a dog. I had never had a dog but just knew it was a must for the winery. I could tell you which wineries I had visited that had dogs and which didn't. It gives a winery a different feel-a welcoming and inviting environment (hopefully). Some dogs just wander the property with the owners, some stay close to the house or office and some (like mine) can't wait to say hello.

I couldn't have speculated about how much Dutchess would mean to DCW prior to her arrival but what a magical experience it has been for me and DCW. I knew I would absolutely love my chubby fur ball but didn't realize how loved she would be by others. DCW staff are her human Aunties and Uncles and she eagerly awaits their arrivals every day. But what we find striking is our customers. They comment and wonder out loud if there is a winery dog or if they can see the winery dog. Oh course, Dutchess is more than happy to be the center of attention. All it seems to take is a sharp whistle (which alarms the unexpected) and she comes running to see a possible new friend. She absolutely loves to sit in the breezeway greeting people and really has more fun walking into the tasting room to grab some attention or taking mule tours.

It's a given that I think my dog is awesome but we have developed great relationships with other winery dogs. Now the wineries and dogs seem to be sending customers to each other. I can't even tell you how funny it is to hear people walk in and say they were just with Gus (a fellow winery dog-who Dutchess loves dearly) so they needed to come meet Dutchess. Now please don't take this the wrong way but the wineries dogs are amazing marketing tools and even better Ambassadors. They really are not "just pets". They are as much a part of the success of the business and any other component. Really amazing how their roles have changed (for some) from guard dogs and hospitality dogs.

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