Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Virginia Winery Tasting Rooms: Let Them Go to the Dogs (and Cats, and Parrots)

The Notebook has been away...but we're back. This new enforcement by Virginia authorities of wineries not allowing dogs, cats, even parrots, inside their tasting rooms has inspired us to return to blogworld.

There has been a lot of buzz on other Virginia blog sites, as well as Facebook and Twitter, about this enforcement. Apparently the Virginia authorities cracked down on breweries several years ago, and now they are cracking down on wineries. To which we reply: "Have a glass of cab franc and chill out!"

Based on (mostly verbal) research we've done with other Virginia wine fans, and some winery owners, this is what we've learned (other Virginia winery fans are welcome to correct us if one of these points is incorrect):

1. The law applies to winery owners, not necessarily the winery patrons.
2. The law has been on the books for decades.
3. The preparation of food at the wineries is one of the reasons the law is being enforced.
4. No furry (or feathered) friend is exempt.
5. There is a movement afoot by Virginia winery communities to have the law amended.

Has this enforcement taken a bite out of business? We won't name winery names but we have visited some wineries over the past few months where visitors were asked to leave their dogs outside the tasting room, even though apparently the law is meant to be applied to the winery owners. We've also come across wineries where dogs were inside the tasting rooms, just as they always have been.

And then there are the cats: A few wineries found permanent homes outside the wineries for their felines, while others are just keeping the cats outside.

We think the enforcement stinks. Part of the winery experience is to be among our four-legged friends. And what's that we hear about keeping the deer and mice and rats away?

Perhaps one amendment to the law would allow wineries that do not serve food to allow pets. And apparently, "food" means any type of food the winery sells - baked baguettes, hummus, salami rolls, cheese, crackers, you name it. If food was more of a "BYOF" thing, and guests just bought their own picnics to the wineries, would our furry friends be permitted then? That's a question for the grumpy authorities.

In the interim, we will salute our favorite pet-friendly wineries with The Black Dog from Chateau Morrisette and Ladies Man cider from Fabbioli Cellars.

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