Spirited New Year: Dog-Inspired Wineries, Breweries, & Distilleries (and give-backs)

No secret, I don’t embody the Christmas spirit. Christmas spirits, however, is a different story. Without spirits, wine, beer, cocktails, and any combination is it really a holiday?

Since we’re on the cusp of a New Year, maybe it’s time to raise a glass to those pet-loving libation companies combining two of my favourite things: a love of pets and the production of alcoholic beverages.

Best in Show: Tito’s Vodka for Dog People

If you’re anywhere in North America, you’ve likely heard of Tito Vodka, especially if you’ve attended any of the pet festivals once popular across North American prior to 2020. Tito Vodka, based in Austin, Texas (the only place in Texas I’d visit as long as it stays weird), has been distilling vodka for 20 years.

Early, the company branded itself as Vodka for Dog People thanks to an early intuitive to support homeless dogs in their community. Office pets, called co-woofers (including cats) are featured on the company site, and there’s Tito pet swag available such as party sweaters, bandanas and bottle-shaped chew toys.

Tito’s Gives Back To Dog Rescues

Currently, Tito’s is sponsoring transportation missions, teaming up with organizations such as Mission Miracle K9, Pilots N Paws, and Wings of Rescue to transport animals from overcrowded or high-kill shelters to areas where adoption is more likely.

If you’re looking for sponsorship for a rescue or event, Tito’s has an online application form ready for you. Also, net proceeds from the sale of Tito’s Vodka for Dog People toys go to pet charities the company supports including Emancipet, a vet care service.

Dog-Inspired Wineries, Breweries and Distilleries

The New Year has me thinking about how many wineries, breweries and distilleries I’ve encountered travelling and researching connected to dogs or even founded in a past or present pet’s honour. I’m located in Southern Ontario near the Niagara Region known as Canada’s Napa Valley … well, Eastern Canada’s Napa Valley.

So new wineries and micro breweries seem to be popping up around me weekly – some supportive of pet welfare initiatives which always gets my attention.

Here’s a list of pet-inspired libation companies I’ve encountered (and how rescues can benefit):

If you know of any in your area with a story inspired by a beloved dog or motivated to make the world a better place for four-legged friends, please let us know in the comments below. I’d love to add to the list.

Pawsitive Spirits: Bernese Black Cherry Vodka Soda

New on the scene – at least to me – Pawsitive Spirits named the company after its mission: to create low-calorie beverages while donating a portion of sales to animal shelters across Ontario. Now, I’ll drink to that. In fact, I have many times — the thin red cans of Bernese Black Cherry Vodka Soda are a staple in my fridge since I discovered the company earlier this year.

Yes, my discover corresponded with pandemic lock-down; read into that what you will.

Based in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Pawsitive Spirits is co-founded by Brian Moulder, a former animal control officer, and Gareth Imrie, a Ready To Drink industry expert. Combining opportunity in the growing libation industry with a love of pets let to the development of the company’s first product: 100-calorie-per-can black cherry vodka soda. Rumour has it, a ‘Passion Fruit Mango Vodka Soda’ is in the works sporting the image of the creative director’s Cayman Island rescue dog, Melmac.

Hound Group: Hounds of Erie Premium Wines & Hard Ciders

Speaking of staples, both my previous black dog Victor, and my current crazy black and white Sproker, Victoria have run through the vines at Hounds of Erie and both were equally interested in the free-range chickens behind the tasting hut.

Hounds of Erie invites visitors to sit, stay and enjoy any of their wines – pear wine is particularly good – and hard ciders – I recommend Sassy Bitch and Best in Show – clearly inspired by dog themes. Situated in Norfolk County near the shores of Lake Erie, the family-owned business are big Great Dane fans and supporters of dog-friendly festivals, fundraisers, and visits on the property. Check out our most recent visit here.

Sporting Group: Three Dog Winery

Three Dog Winery in Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada holds a special place in my heart because I stopped at the dog-friendly winery on my way to first meet my beloved Sprocker when she was only one-week old and fit into the palm of my hand. I didn’t get her at the winery, obviously, but the winery was on the way to the home where she was born. Any winery named ‘Three Dog’ I had to check out.

Turns out, the winery was names in honour of the three Labs that lived on the property when the winery was founded, and many products are too including the company’s Dog House Red – and a dog-themed Holiday Pack. The newest puppy, Bakkus, however, is named after wine. Check out our stop in Picton, Ontario here. Reiki and Jersey round out the three.

Terrier Group: Bar Dog Wine

Bar Dog Wine invites you to pawz to enjoy! I first discovered Bar Dog Wine because for a particular time period they were donating a percentage of sales through the Ontario LCBO (the liquor store) to Ladybird Animal Sanctuary where I found my cat Daisy. I’ve been supporting that local pet rescue for a while and well, had to buy wine anyway, right? I went into the LCBO, promptly forgot the name of the wine and told the person working there ‘there’s a dog on the label.’ I promptly got a tour of the store – I had no idea there were so many wines with a dog on the label.

First, Bar Dog is from California, yet early in 2020 they were supporting an Ontario pet rescue because they’d just gotten distribution in the Ontario, Canada liquor store. (Apparently, that’s not easy). Second, each bottle has a different dog peeking onto the label: Cab Sauvignon is a Boston Terrier; Pinot Noir is a Fenchie; Red is a terrier; and the Chardonnay is a yellow lab. If you’re like me, you’ll chose by dog, rather than varietal. I’m lobbying for a Sproker next.

Bar Dog Gives Back to Pet Rescues

Apparently, the winery owner lives on a ranch with her cowboy husband who raises horse. Everyone had a dog and Boston Terriers are a favorite of winery owner Terry Wheatly. And yes, the Bar Dog gives back to local rescues across North America through the PetFinder Foundation. Non-profit rescues can apply through Petfinder Foundation for a non-restricted operating grant from a $30,000 fund supported by the sales of their wine in both the U.S. and Canada – including the two bottles I bought.

More dog-loving wineries in the U.S.

If you’re interested in other American Wineries that give back to Canine Causes, check out “Must Love Dogs: 16 Wineries that Support Canine Causes” published in Wine Enthusiast:

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