Wine Culture Magazine

Sometimes a winery’s best ambassador is its furry, four-legged one

Here at Vitis, two of our favourite things are wine and dogs. So we asked a few folks in wine country about their four-legged friends, then quizzed them on what they’ll be drinking this fall. Here’s what they had to say.

Buddha. Bella Wines photo

Bella Wines

Dog: Buddha

Nickname: Bu

Breed: Bulldog

Role: Hostess and pig wrangler

Jay Drysdale, co-proprietor of Bella Wines on the Naramata Bench, has always had bulldogs. “They have such character and make me smile,” he says with a chuckle.

In fact, his boutique sparkling winery is named for his previous pup, Bella, whom he affectionately called Buddha Belly. When Bella’s successor joined the family, her name seemed apt.

Buddha is the greeter of guests, but also helps Drysdale keep the estate’s pigs in line; when called upon she’s happy to get bossy and corral them into place.

Drink: “I enjoy Creek & Gully organic ciders. They’re that perfect little harvest Gatorade—they quench the thirst without being high in alcohol,” Drysdale says. His pick is the Flora, a multi-variety dry canned cider.


Bravo. Corcelettes Estate Winery photo

Corcelettes Estate Winery

Dog: Bravo

Nickname: Bravo-buddy

Breed: German Shepherd

Role: Flirt

Not yet a year old, Bravo has already established himself as a ladies’ man, according to Jesce Baessler, co-owner of Corcelettes Estate Winery in the Similkameen Valley.

Baessler, who has only ever had German Shepherds, explains, “Bravo is a failed RCMP puppy. They knew by the time he was eight weeks old he was not cut out for service. He wasn’t as confident as the rest of the litter, so we lucked out.”

She adds, “He’s a silly, fun-loving guy. When he hears people come in [to the tasting room] he greets them. If a woman and a man walk in together, he will inevitably go to the lady—he’s such a flirt.”

Drink: “In the fall, I’m a sucker for a plush, velvety Merlot I can get comfortable on the couch with, but my pick would be our new 2019 Talus—it’s a whopper,” she says of the winery’s flagship Bordeaux blend.


Bizou and Yukon. Lionel Trudel photo

Okanagan Crush Pad

Dogs: Bizou and Yukon

Nicknames: Bizou-roni and Yuki

Breed: Great Pyrenees

Role: Night patrol (or guardians of the OCP galaxy)

Since opening in 2011, Summerland’s Okanagan Crush Pad has been a destination for dog lovers thanks to owners Christine Coletta and Steve Lornie, who have several four-legged family members of their own.

Two of them are Great Pyrenees, a French breed known for guarding livestock; their thick white coat makes these magnificent giants easy to recognize. According to Coletta, they are mostly docile creatures, until their charges are threatened. They sleep all day and roam the fenced vineyards at night.

Coletta says, “If a threat appears [a coyote or bear], they don’t actually attack, they divide and conquer. One will go to a high place and the other to a low, vulnerable place and they lose their minds barking. They bark in such a way—they change their pitch—it sounds like there are 12 of them.”

Drink: “I like drinking rosés into the fall. When I’m making more robust pastas, I find the drier, juicy rosés are perfect.” Her pick is OCP’s own Bizou + Yukon Pinkie Rosé.


Ellie. Synchromesh Wines photo

Synchromesh Wines

Dog: Ellie

Nickname: Ellie-Bean-Girl or L.B.

Breed: Okanagan Special

Role: Vermin control and tour guide

Located in Okanagan Falls, Synchromesh is a family-owned boutique winery settled on more than 100 acres.

While not their only dog, Ellie, a rescue the Dickenson family adopted as a puppy, is definitely the one captured more frequently on social media. Alan Dickenson says Ellie’s lineage is unclear, but guesses she’s a special cuvée of American Staffordshire terrier and perhaps some Labrador and Rottweiler.

“She’s amazing with kids and is a proper farm girl. She’s out all day digging up marmots and mice and when we do our vineyard walking tours she leads—she knows the route,” Dickenson says.

He also notes it’s not uncommon for her to eat a half a dozen quails in a day, so they often have to cut back on her meals.

Drink: “In fall, I’ve been enjoying wines from a little family winery located around the corner called Echo Bay Vineyard,” Dickenson says. His pick is the refreshing and effervescent Else Wines Muscat on Skins.


Emma and Bella.

Upper Bench Estate Winery

Dogs: Emma and Bella

Breed: Border Collies

Nicknames: Em and Belly-Button

Roles: Public entertainment and fetcher of balls

Until recently, Naramata Bench’s Upper Bench Estate was home not only to a winery and creamery, but to two senior Border Collies, Emma and Bella.

Co-owner and winemaker Gavin Miller admits that Emma, the younger of the two, is an attention hog with a goal of being a lap dog. “Emma is all about people. She loves to be around them, she’ll follow people around all day.”

Before crossing the rainbow bridge in September, Bella was the working dog of the duo, and loved chasing balls and sticks. “She saw her role as ball fetcher,” Miller says.

Drink: “I’m a huge Merlot fan, that’s what I like to drink through the fall and winter,” Miller says. His pick is the Upper Bench Estate Grown Merlot.

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