They’re arguably the greatest ambassadors a winery could have – but up to now they have barely been recognised for the vital role they play.
That is all about to change as an Australiasian publishing phenomenon is unleashed across the northern hemisphere: the Wine Dogs franchise is about to hit the US, and Europe after that.
First published in 2004, Wine Dogs of Australasia pictures the multifarious four-legged characters that slouch and caper around practically every winery in the Australia and New Zealand.
With a foreword by eminent wine writer Huon Hooke – ‘Does Vanya Cullen really think we believe SHE makes those heavenly cabernet merlots?’ – the book celebrates such characters as Leeuwin Estate’s rottweiler Bear and jack russell Jedda, Rover of Cloudy Bay, Molly of Maxwell Wines in McLaren Vale, and Huxley (pictured) of Harewood Estate, Western Australia.
Each dog is pictured in Hello!-style glossy close up, with a couple of lines of biography, such as ‘Pet hates: hairdryers and ferrets’, or ‘Obsession: g-strings’.
Owners themselves rarely get a look in, and when they do, they tend to prove the dictum that people always come to resemble their pets.
Now the book has proved such a success (it inspired Decanter magazine’s Top Dogs monthly feature) that it is being rolled out across America.
Craig McGill of publishers Giant Dog told decanter.com he and a photographer spend April in the US snapping dogs at 250 wineries, and ‘2007 looks like being the year of Wine Dogs France edition, a Europe edition and a South Africa edition.’ A third Australian edition is underway, featuring another 150 wineries.
As to what the dogs think of it is anybody’s guess, but they should appreciate Hooke’s final thought in his foreword.
‘We all know the dog deserves the lion’s share of the credit. So, this is an attempt to right an injustice, to settle an old score and give winery dogs their day. Paws for thought.’
Written by Adam Lechmere