A Thanksgiving Trip to Virginia’s Dog Friendly Vineyards
Where Will Your PawsGo Today?
By Karen Johnson, Pawsgo
Spring and summer are perfect times to load your dog in car and head out to Virginia’s wine country for a day of sips, walks, shopping and lunch on a dog-friendly patio. But Thanksgiving is also the perfect time to share Virginia wineries with your family, friends, and BFF (best furry friend) – because many of Virginia’s wineries now allow dogs in the tasting room.
One of our favorite places to go is Delaplane, Virginia — just 60 miles down Route 66 from Alexandria and full of great dog friendly cold weather options.
If you have a dog and like wine, it’s likely that you’ve heard of Barrel Oak Winery – even their name says dog, B-O-W! Upon arrival, you’ll meet dogs leaving the tasting room, or just taking a potty break. To say that Barrel Oak loves dogs would be an understatement. The tasting room is filled with owners and their dogs. The gift shop has great dog-inspired items, and their wines pay homage to canines. A quick look at their events calendar and you’ll see dog focused events – the good folks at Barrel Oak are big supporters of a several animal rescues.
It’s hard NOT to have fun at Barrel Oak. There is a buzzy welcoming vibe – everyone is happy! Friends and families are picnicking on the fire pit heated patio. Wine and dogs are great conversation starters! During our last trip we met neighbors from Del Ray.
While Barrel Oak has the buzzy festive atmosphere, Aspen Dale is closer to a cool coffee shop (but with wine and in an old barn). Dogs are also welcome in the tasting room which is warm, hip, and relaxed. A soloist on guitar plays “coffee shop” music. There is a fire in the fireplace. Dogs relax on the floor and owners sit on comfy couches, at café tables, or stand at the tasting bar.
Aspen Dale provides a small plate of “pairings” to go with the wines – a piece of apricot, a bite of sausage, a bit of chocolate – all perfectly paired with each wine. We loved it! Aspen Dale is one of those special places where you could easily spend the entire afternoon.
To mix things up a bit – try Cobbler Mountain Cider. Located on a hill off of a couple twisty gravel roads is their lovely tasting room. Like Barrel Oak and Aspen Dale, it’s also in Delaplane, but Cobbler Mountain specializes in cider – some of the top ciders in the region.
Everything about Cobbler Mountain is friendly and relaxed. Given its location – far off of a main road, dogs can actually go off leash on their grounds. Don’t be deterred by the colder weather, they have fire pits and Adirondack chairs that provide the perfect spot to enjoy delicious Cobbler Mountain cider while your dog plays. Leashed dogs are also welcome in their tasting room.
Cobbler Mountain Cellars often hosts groups of dogs and their owners for special events – it’s a favorite of our Australian Shepherd Meetup group – we go out several times a year. In the summer and early fall, Cobbler Mountain holds weekend camping and hiking trips for owners and their dogs.
There are nearly 300 wineries in Virginia and MANY are dog friendly. Only California, New York, Oregon and Washington have more wineries than Virginia. www.virginiawine.org, lists all wineries and their regions. You can also filter by varietals and if the winery is pet friendly – some wineries are dog FRIENDLY, but do NOT allow them in the tasting room, which is fine during warm weather, but not cool in the winter, so if you’re interested in a winery read the fine print or call the tasting room. Finally, there is a fun app called Cork Hounds – www.corkhounds.com, that allows you to find dog friendly wineries all over the US.
Karen Johnson is the founder of PawsGo (www.PawsGo.com) the Alexandria-based online community for women and their dogs, promoting an active lifestyle for both! PawsGo merchandise can be found online and locally at From Head to Tail Grooming and Spa, Bon Vivant Café and Farm Market, Reunions and the Alexandria Country Day School Fall Festival (November 3)