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Originally published Saturday, March 3, 2012 at 7:03 PM

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Come! Sit! Sip! Wines from dog-lovin' wineries

Wine adviser Paul Gregutt, against long odds, has recently became a dog owner. And perhaps that was what caused him to research dogs and wine. There was much to find and enjoy.

Special to the Seattle Times

Pick of the week

Dunham Cellars 2009 Three Legged Red; $16

A luscious bowl of cherries, with a streak of fresh peach as well. Smooth and supple, it brings in gentle barrel notes of light toast, continuing on its elegant path through an extended finish. (Distributed by Vehrs)

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MAYBE IT'S because, against long odds, I recently became a dog owner. But suddenly, my interest in all things dog-related has zoomed. And led inevitably to researching dogs and wine.

First stop: the Dog Lover's Wine Club (www.dogloverswineclub.com). Run by the owners of a pinot noir vineyard in Southern California, it offers members regular shipments of custom-made wines "accompanied by inspirational stories of families and their lives with dogs." The labels are original photos sent in by dog-lovers around the country. Along with the usual blather about grapes, vineyards, barrels, etc., you get tips about dogs, and a portion of the proceeds benefits dog-related charities. Shipments come monthly via the Sip, Sit & Stay club, bimonthly (the Chasing Your Tail club) or quarterly (the Fetch A Bottle club).

Cru Vin Dogs is another wine company that offers custom wines, with dog-art labels, that honor individual dogs with interesting stories. Here, too, a percentage of sales is earmarked for dog-related charities.

Closer to home, Spoiled Dog Winery on Whidbey Island is named for the owners' Australian shepherds, Blue and Sami. You think you have a more spoiled dog? Enter the Spoiled Dog Contest and your pooch might end up being chosen the Spoiled Dog of the Year. Details at http://www.spoileddogwinery.com/Forms/SD_Entry.pdf.

Sleeping Dog wines in Benton City (http://sleepingdogwines.com) honors winery dog Aurora with such bottles as the Tail Wagger red. Dunham Cellars Three Legged Red is a longtime favorite of mine, and the 2009 version may be the best ever. Other Northwest dog labels include O'Reilly's Pinot Noir, Lowden Hills Lulu Red, Gilstrap Brothers Rescue Dog Red, Hightower Murray Cuvée, Portrait Cellars Black Dog Red, Melrose Vineyards Two Dog Red and Lemelson Tikka's Run.

Wineries with a dog in the name seem irresistibly drawn to puns. At Mutt Lynch winery, visitors to the website are invited to "sniff around." The winery dog, a rescued greyhound named Patch, is shown lying on his side amid the picking bins.

"Patch's idea of helping out at the winery," the owners write, "looks suspiciously like his activities at the house — find the most comfortable place available, lie down, fall asleep, move only if forced to do so. Each year we think about updating Patch's photos on our web page. And each year we take a new round of pictures. And each year they look the same." Mutt Lynch's 2009 Out of Reach Muttitage, Canis Major syrah and Canis Major cabernet all are recent award-winners.

But don't flee. We've barely scratched the surface. Punk Dog Wines honors a pooch named Sophie, "a headstrong herding dog that is used to bossing cows around." Sophie's Romp Cabernet, and Sophie's Riddle Red are the wines she likes best. Blind Dog Wines in Paso Robles has a Midnight Run Cuvée and sends a portion of the proceeds to Dogs for the Deaf in Oregon.

Michigan's Spotted Dog Winery "in lovely downtown Saline" has a line of fruit wines named Good Dog, Bad Dog, Sit, Stay, Rollover and Speak. California's Common Dog Wine "wants to be your faithful everyday drinking wine. Really, our corks are wagging."

To accompany your dog wines there are wine-dog calendars, dog-shaped wine holders, dog coasters and numerous versions of the popular Winery Dogs books. I've just learned about a new website — www.WineDoggies.com — due to be launched this month. So if you, like me, are late to the party, don't be a tail dragger. Grab a sniff-ter of vino and take the paws that refreshes.

The revised second edition of Paul Gregutt's "Washington Wines & Wineries" is now in print. His blog is www.paulgregutt.com. Email: paulgwine@me.com.

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About Wine Adviser

My column is all about sharing the joy of exploring all the world of wine. I want to guide people to make inspired choices, and encourage them to try as many different styles of wine as they can. I will always seek out the best wines at the best prices. Wine Adviser runs on Sunday in Pacific Northwest Magazine.
paulgwine@me.com

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