Have Tasting Rooms Gone to the Dogs?

When Sunset magazine identified 21 dog-friendly vacations, Cannon Beach, Lincoln City and Portland, OR, all made the list. The Pacific Northwest is distinctive because of its reputation as one of the most pet-friendly regions in the country.

A brief word from our winery dogs:

Dear Visiting Dogs,

We are so glad you and your human are visiting us at Wy’East! We have a few house rules (your human can translate this for you).

We hope you enjoy the complimentary water provide in bowls on the patio.

Please remain on a leash while you enjoy our grounds. But sniff and pee away! We haven’t left many things “unmarked.”

One last thing: Kindly keep your paws (and body, tail, etc.) off of the furniture.

Thanks, Woof & Cheers!

Yours Truly,

Asia, Roxie & Jelly

During Capiche’s recent travels to wineries in Oregon, Washington and California (we visited more than 80 in 2016 alone), we noticed a “letter” from the resident dogs Asia, Roxie and Jelly at Wy’East Vineyards in Hood River, OR. We were immediately struck by the thoughtfulness of the letter, which detailed the behavioral expectations of visiting dogs.

Why should tasting rooms consider allowing visiting dogs? According to Dillon Media, “Pet owners are consumers with serious purchasing power and unique habits, representing a compelling target market for many businesses.” While approximately 40% of Americans are dog owners, some retailers report that dog owners make up as much as 80% of their constituents. Plus, dog owners without children tend to have more expendable income, meaning your guests can purchase more wine during their visits (and stay longer).

Here are a few best practices to implement should you choose to welcome dogs to your tasting room and winery:

  • Provide bowls with fresh water.
  • Offer dog biscuits. If your wine is organic, the biscuits should mirror your brand and be organic, too!
  • Designate space for walking and pet relief.
  • Require leashes, slings or backpacks. This is a good way for pet owners to demonstrate respect for winery owners and staff, the property and other guests. We recently visited a winery where a dog owner allowed a small dog to jump onto other patrons’ laps. The owner appeared oblivious to the irritation of other patrons until people began to move away. Ill-mannered dog problems can be prevented up front by requiring some method of restraint. This policy also helps ensure the safety of the dog, winery staff and guests.
  • Consider accommodations for guests with allergies by restricting dogs to outdoor areas, running air purifiers at indoor locations and administering thorough daily cleanings of the tasting room areas.
  • Post signage—or create your own letter—that clarifies the expectations of dogs and their owners.

Are you unsure if welcoming dogs is right for your winery? Survey your guests. How many are dog owners? What about your wine club members? How many guests would be more inclined to spend time at the winery if they could bring their dogs?

If your winery is welcoming to dogs, make sure you connect with these online pet travel directories:

Smartphone apps include Petcentric and BringFido. It was surprising to see how few wineries are listed in these websites and apps. If you welcome dogs, connect with these directories right away to tap into this unique consumer base. Take advantage of the free publicity!

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