Tuesday, May 27, 2014

PawsGo Wine Tasting in Delaplane and Middleburg, Virginia

About an hour's drive from Washington, D.C. is Middleburg, Virginia.  This well-heeled community of horse farms, stone fences, rolling hills, and red-fox memorabilia is also home to numerous inviting and dog-friendly wineries. 

On a sunny Sunday, I convinced my husband, a good friend and our two dogs to join me on a road trip to Middleburg and Delaplane,Virginia.  The dogs (Boomer and Kacey) were easy, I usually have them at "ride."

My husband and our friend proved equally easy -- I had them at "wine."
Not that they are wine snobs, but my husband is from Oregon and Washington and our friend lives in Northern California.  Both have visited their share of wineries and sampled plenty of vintages.  I reminded them both that Virginia has been cultivating grapes for more than 400 years and at least two of our nation's founding fathers (Jefferson and Washington) were vintner-wannabes.  With nearly 200 wineries throughout the Commonwealth, Virginia ranks 5th among the 50 states in wine production.  (can you guess the other 4?)

Rather than determine our stops by type of grape, I chose our wineries based on "pet friendly."  The Virginia Wine website was great.  It broke wineries down by regions and amenities.
Our first stop was Aspen Dale in Delaplane. 
This winery has a very charming tasting room (which is a 200 year old barn) and a lovely outdoor area complete with horses and mini-ponies.  The 5 of us were greeted warmly and we began our tasting and pairing.  A very nice touch at Aspen Dale is the pairing.  Just a "taste" to experience how food enhances the wine.  Our tastes included a few bites of cheese, two dried fruits, two pieces of sausage and a chocolate chip -- YUM!  Boomer and Kacey were each given a dog biscuit.  Our final wine was a splash of Sangria.  We promptly purchased 3 glasses of Sangria to drink in the garden as the dogs watched the ponies. 

From Delaplane, we took a two lane road to Middleburg and Cana winery.  Like a modern farm house, the Cana tasting room has multiple levels and outdoor tasting patios -- perfect for dogs.  It's a very new winery and isn't producing grapes.  The wines we sampled were just opened and created from grapes purchased from Virginia and California (there is a consulting winemaker from California).

While at Cana a couple from Northern Virginia suggested we try Boxwood Winery.  They suggested it was "Napa-esque" Boxwood is NOT dog friendly (hence, not on my list), but it is in Middleburg, so we made a stop.  With the a/c on in our Jeep, my husband checked email, the dogs relaxed and our friend and I "tasted." 

Boxwood is very modern with touches of stone and a small tasting area.  It has a much larger outdoor drinking and snacking area (which I thought looked perfect for dogs).  The wine was good and we bought two bottles of their Trellis red blend.

Needing food, we headed to Upperville and the Hunter's Head Tavern -- a pub for pups.  A friend recommended it as having good food and dog-friendly.  It didn't disappoint in either case.  It is warm and welcoming.  Boomer and Kacey received their water before we did!  Dogless diners came over to say hi and those with dogs were just as excited to see ours.  Dogs are welcome on a large patio where seating is first come.  We arrived just after 5:00 p.m. and were quickly seated -- but the place was full.
 Indoors The Hunter's Head has a real pub feel.  The food is locally sourced and organic.  They have a nice selection of beer and wine.  On our trip Boomer and Kacey each enjoyed the Furry Foodie dog meal and locally sourced tap water.  Our human fare consisted of a wedge salad (yum), a burger, fish and chips and chicken fried steak.  A couple of beers and a glass of Malbec completed our meal. 

There are lots of wineries that welcome dogs.  For instance, Barrel Oak Winery hosts rescue groups and has a Bow Wow Red, the proceeds of which go to animal welfare organizations.  At Barrel Oak, dogs are welcome in the tasting rooms -- that's not the case with all wineries.  In addition to looking at the Virginia wine website, I emailed the "pet friendly" wineries to determine exactly where dogs can go.  A day of wine tasting in Virginia was a great way to spend time with human and canine friends, I think all 5 of us would highly recommend it!

Boomer was exhausted after this big day, and slept the 50 minutes home.

The Patio at the Hunter's Head Tavern
Kacey enjoying her Furry Foodie meal at the Hunter's Head Tavern