We’ve been winetasting a very long time, nearly 27 years. There are many things we’ve come to love about winetasting beyond the wine. One of those is wine dogs. By wine dogs, I mean both dog-friendly wineries you can bring your dogs to and wineries that have dogs running out to greet you. It just adds something.
Books abound on the topics, and in some regions, nearly every winery or bed & breakfast we stay at, has a local canine holding down the place. We started bringing our own dogs, first Ms. Bay and then Kai. They may not be tasting the wine, but they both seem to love going. I think it’s just being with their pack, meeting other wine dogs along the way, and hanging out in nature.
Ergo I am always on the lookout for wineries that welcome our canine friends, just as I am on the lookout for dog friendly restaurants and four-star lodging. We love being able to hop in the car on the fly, without booking our in-demand dog-sitter who is usually already booked and being able to go on an adventure.
For all these reasons, I’m on the lookout for these places you may want to enjoy with your best canine friends. I found one of those dog-friendly options in the Applegate region in Southern Oregon. It’s kind of a funny story. As we set off on a 3 Week Wine/Spa Tour around Labor Day on Labor Day (before things got Covid-bad again), Southern Oregon was our first stop. I called to schedule 23 visits. You should have seen the spreadsheet because it’s like pre-production on a film during Covid Season setting these things up. I looked on Yelp to see what people were liking and noticed a winery called Devitt in the Applegate AVA not too far from Jackson, past lots of bricks and flags. I knew the direction and figured it would be a great contrast to an amazing estate winery we’d visited in the Rogue Valley AVA which you can read about here.
When I called, I got Sue on the phone. As in she answered. As in, I didn’t have to leave a message, or go to the “very easy to schedule” website. (Note to wineries: I know you all think your website is so easy, but they’re not easy. I promise you. And they’re all different. And we’re busy, too.) A real live person. Ahhhhhh. What a pleasant thing in this world where nobody ever answers the freaking phone besides Sue and my mom.
We started to chat. I told her what I was doing. We vibed well together. I usually get one of two reactions from people: they love me, or they hate me. No real middle ground. Sue was in the first group. We talked for 30 minutes. You are never going to believe what we discovered. When we lived in Southern California (Torrance in the South Bay), she actually lived right behind our wall! She went to school in the same district of Palos Verdes that our kids had been educated in and that we had been married in so many years ago. Her daughter went to the same high school as our son. Not sure how that’s possible in a city of 4 million people, but there it was. Synchronicity at play. Sue and Dewitt earned an excited star on my spreadsheet.
When we pulled into Devitt, a huge crowd pleaser on Yelp, I was struck by the humble shed structure with its neon sign. The same rural feel that hits me when I pass our local OK Corral small town bar hit me there. A devourer of experience, I couldn’t wait to go inside. As we walked in, there was Sue and a young man. Sue, who I soon found out had MS and is in a wheelchair, and her grandson, Brendon, were masked and ready to greet us.
I felt like I knew Sue for many years. I pulled a seat up to the bar, socially distancing especially as she is very immune compromised, and we began to talk story. We talked about her husband who had a dream that landed them in this space. Jim Devitt started out in 1971 as the owner and winemaker of Pope Valley Winery in Napa County. As they searched North for a new space, they found this land in Jacksonville and called it home. Jim has since passed. We talked about how she wanted to keep his dream alive, but then the MS, and then the idea: what about having Brendon come live on the property with her?
She asked, and he did. Now, newly married Brendon is the winemaker, vineyard manager, tasting room manager, all of it. Educated in the vineyard, Brendon’s wines are well-priced for the locals who come and buy it by the case. It’s not uncommon for locals to stop by and see a note on the door: come find me in the vineyard.
One of their bottles, Aggie Dog Red, let me know Kai would be welcome here. I knew at that point we’d found a dog-friendly winery. We talked for several hours, and Sue admitted her favorite part of the whole winery gig was this time connecting with visitors and sharing wine and story. As we left, we met Ramen. Oh, he and Kai would have such a great time, no merlot needed.
ADDRESS: Devitt Winery 11412 Highway 238, Jacksonville, Oregon – (541) 899-7511