The Emperor

A Winery Goes to the Dogs

Frenchie Winery makes being a dog in wine country a lot more fabulous

Napa Valley is not a bad place to be a dog. I mean, sometimes you get to run around the vineyards and chase Jack Rabbits and meet those dirty, socially awkward vineyard dogs, but often, let’s face it, we get stuck waiting in the hot car while the Mister and Missus go into the cool, fancy winery (not that I begrudge them — I hear there are Baccarat chandeliers in there).

But on Saturday, it was a different story. At Raymond Vineyards in St. Helena, we had our run of the place. Not only were we “tolerated” but actually welcome! I expected Jean-Charles Boisset’s dog, Frenchie, who invited me, to be a total asshole (I mean, come on — a French Bulldog who has his own wine label?) but he was actually pretty cool.

Frenchie might be a spoiled aristocrat, it’s true, but he cares immensely about the well-being of the average labrador (And he even invited some scraggly-mutt rescue dogs to the party). At Raymond, he has established, in addition to his Frenchie wine label, an entire Chateau where we canines can eat, schmooze and snooze while our blue-jean and sunglass-clad companions sip wine and purchase souvenirs in cooler confines. The beds (constructed in old wine barrels) are super comfortable and I just adore the tiny fermentation-tank replica water coolers (if only they were full of sauvignon blanc!). And how was the wine? Well, the Lois XIV Cabernet Sauvignon was pretty good — especially for the price — but the Napolean red wine had more bark than bite (but what do I know? I’m no Blood Hound).

I realize, of course, that Saturday’s launch party “Bark-B-Que” for Frenchie’s ambitious initiative was a special occasion, but it was still pretty great to swim in the cool, blue pool which is usually, one would assume, reserved  for French bikini models (none of which were there, of course, but there was a pretty sexy Labra-Doodle. Sadly, she was too cool to chase tennis balls).

There were plenty of wine and dog biscuits to go around, and, amusing for everyone except the Dachshunds no doubt, hot dogs (or chien chaude as Frenchie calls them), served in hollowed-out 12-inch baguettes, were served as the main course. (I, personally, prefer spicy mustard to sweet, but to each his own.)

If that human on the other end of the leash really, truly adores you — and if you behave yourself, of course — perhaps you will get lucky enough to have them commission Carol Lew to create a classic painting of you looking fabulous and noble in Victorian garb. (If I could choose, I would be Marie Antoinette in a fantastic wig — obviously, Frenchie was all over every great French king of the past 400 years.)

All in all, being a dog in Wine Country just got a lot more fabulous.

-by A. Dog (photos by Table To Grave)