Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Adventures on the Road Part II: Wine Tasting with Dogs

Stopping to enjoy the view while traveling the Cayuga Lake wine trail with our dogs.

After discovering that we were not allowed to leave our dogs unattended in the cabin in which we were staying at Cayuga Lake State Park, Chris and I (especially I) felt defeated.
Now what?
It seemed like spending a day happily gallivanting down the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail had fallen off the table and onto the ground to rot like a forgotten grape: there's no way to get wine out of that.
We had planned to "gallivant" in a car, safely driven by a hired wine trail guide (Finger Lakes Winery Tours & Fitzgerald Brothers).  Chris called up the driver and explained the situation and ended with "We don't know what to do".

In the back seat of our winery-mobile with Halo and Leopold. which the driver responded "Bring them!"

A response we were not expecting! (but maybe hoping for deep deep down)

Our driver showed up with a sedan, introduced himself as Dan, opened the back door and welcomed both our dogs onto his leather seats without a second thought.  He told us later in the day that ours were the first dogs he's ever driven around on a wine tour.  I was impressed with how cool he was about having 125 lbs worth of dog in the back seat of his car.  Halo and Leopold quickly decided that they liked Dan, their newest friend.

As it turns out, there are many wineries along Cayuga Lake that allow dogs in their tasting rooms.  In fact, we learned on the way that there are even some wineries that have their own dogs (or cats!) in residence who lounge about in the tasting rooms.  Dan explained that it was lucky we were already planning on checking out the Cayuga Lake wineries instead of the Seneca Lake wineries (which are not far away) because the Seneca Lake wineries tend not to be so dog-friendly.

Leopold lays down on the floor of the
Goose Watch Winery tasting room for a nap.

It felt very strange at first walking into a winery with dogs, and we did get some looks.  Almost all of those looks were friendly, however, and followed by sought permission to pet our incurably cute dogs.  Leopold and Halo were the open windows through which strangers felt invited to chat with us;  I don't think I've ever interacted with so many strangers while out wine tasting before.

I've always felt that having a dog is like being part of a club.  As soon as another Dog Club member sees you with your dog, they instantly get excited and want to tell you about their own dog or their childhood dog or some dog they met here or there.  We met many other members of the Dog Club while out wine tasting, and other non-members who were intrigued by the sight of the dressed-up couple with dogs hanging off their arms.

Halo was so sleepy at the end of the day that
she laid on the floor and rest her head on
the console in the winery-mobile.
We visited six wineries in all:  Swedish HillGoose WatchButtonwood GroveKnappAmericana, and Sheldrake Point.  Along the way we gave treats to a highland cow named Melody, learned why the area is known for its Rieslings, and Leopold met a cat close up and personal (if you're curious, the cat hissed and Leopold spent the rest of our time at that winery with a watchful eye and a low woof for the cat).  For lunch, we ate at a Bistro call the Thirsty Owl, that offered outdoor seating so that we could have our dogs with us.   Dan the driver also brought us to a scenic overlook of the Taughannock Falls, which was absolutely amazing.  By the end of the wine tour Chris and I were feeling light and happy, and the dogs were tuckered out from all their new experiences.

Our day ended up being fantastic.  And what felt at first like a disaster, turned into a unique experience that I would recommend to those who like to find new activities in which to include their dogs.

A scenic overlook of the Taughannock Falls
Halo waits in the car while we give Melody a treat.  Halo does not like this.
Offering Melody a treat

waiting for lunch at the Thirsty Owl
Halo and Leopold enjoy some cold water.

Strolling by the grape vines
Halo and Leopold look out over a vineyard.

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