Pet-Friendly Pours: Giving Back to Man’s (and Woman’s) Best Friend

By Jen Reeder

v13n4_dog_rescueFor many dog lovers, one of life’s great pleasures is enjoying a tasty beverage in the company of a dog. And it’s even better when you know the winery, brewery or distillery gives back to our four-legged friends. So cheers to these “pawesome” companies that support canine rescue and welfare organizations!

Mutt Lynch Winery – Windsor, California

When Brenda and Chris Lynch started Mutt Lynch Winery in 1995, they wanted to support animal welfare groups because of their rescued Greyhound, Patch. So over the past 20 years, the Sonoma winery has donated money to more than 50 nonprofit animal organizations as well as cases of wine to numerous fundraising events. Their award-winning labels feature images of dogs and whimsical names like “Unleashed Chardonnay,” and the dog-friendly tasting room hosts monthly “yappy hour” fundraisers. “We’re about two things: making award-winning wine and giving a ‘leg up,’” quips Deborah Halbert, marketing director. “But while the mission is very worthy, the wine is spectacular.”

Tito’s Homemade Vodka – Austin, Texas

In 1995, Tito Beveridge bought land in rural Texas to start a vodka distillery. He built a shack with his white German shepherd mix Jo at his side, and soon stray dogs started hanging around while they manned the still. Tito’s Homemade Vodka now has rescued and rehomed more than 50 stray dogs and supports the spay/neuter nonprofit Emancipet with proceeds from its “Vodka for Dog People” website. The company advocates for dog-friendly workplaces, donates its critically acclaimed vodka to rescue fundraisers like “Mutts and Martinis,” and has big plans for 2016, including upgrading a shelter’s kennel in Puerto Rico. “Dogs bring so much happiness,” says Beth Bellanti, Vodka for Dog People Program Manager. “Our story is dogs.”

Trebets Estate Wines – Chesterland, Ohio

Ohio-based winemakers Ed and Gina Trebets started a wine brand called Muddy Paw in 2011 to give back to dogs in need. Inspired by Trigger, their rescued border collie/Labrador retriever mix, they decided to donate $1 of every bottle sold to the Geauga Humane Society’s Rescue Village. They also donate wine to fundraising events. “It’s been a really rewarding experience for us,” says co-owner Ed Trebets. “Buy wine and drink it to support the animals – that’s kind of my motto.”

City Star Brewing – Berthoud, Colorado

While “brew dogs” are a popular sight at many Colorado breweries, Harley, the canine mascot of City Star Brewing, is extra-special. The little Chihuahua spent the first 10 years of his life in a puppy mill cage, where he lost an eye during a power wash. But since his rescue and adoption, Harley has been named a 2015 Hero Dog by the American Humane Association as a spokes-dog against puppy mills and advocate for rescue. In his honor, City Star Brewing hosts an annual fundraiser called “Hops and Harley,” which attracts more than 1,800 people from across the US and raised more than $14,000 for National Mill Dog Rescue in 2015 alone. “Harley is inspiring people in really personal ways,” says Whitney Way, co-owner of City Star Brewing – and whose parents adopted Harley.

See Ya Later Ranch Winery – Okanagan Falls, British Columbia, Canada

Dogs have been an integral part of See Ya Later Ranch Winery since Major Hugh Fraser bought the ranch in 1919: his dogs were more faithful than his wife, who didn’t fancy the expansive property and left a note that read, “See ya later.” Fraser became a patron of the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), and the winery still supports the organization. They donate a portion of revenue from tasting fees and sales of Jimmy My Pal, a crisp Chardonnay named for one of Fraser’s pups, and hosting fundraising events like the Dog Days of Summer. In honor of the winery’s generosity, the BC SPCA named See Ya Later Ranch Winery its 2015 Caring Company of the Year. “Giving back is part of our culture,” says Trudy Carr, visitor experience manager. “It’s very, very important that we continue to do that.”

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