Dogs make the most charming winery welcome committee. But did you know that they are (actually) useful beyond their cuteness? (Unbelievable, I know). They can sniff out diseases, help reduce the use of pesticides, protect animals from wildlife and keep critters away from grapes.
Much the same way dogs are used to detect explosives or drugs, there have been more and more examples of dogs being trained to sniff out vine pests and diseases such as phylloxera, or mealybugs.
Such early detection allows the winemakers to only remove the affected vines, alleviating extensive use of pesticides, and avoiding potential devastation.
In biodynamic estates, where sheep (or alpacas) often freely roam the vineyards (thereby removing the need for weed-killer) dogs are important too. They keep sheep safe from wild animals, and if necessary, keep the flock together. Similarly, dogs can catch gophers, and scare away deer and other occasional visitors that like to munch on ripe grapes.
In fact, many vineyards receive a sustainability certificate precisely because they integrate dogs in their natural winemaking process.
Have I mentioned that dogs inspire the cutest wine labels?
Cheers to good wine, and good (winery) dogs!