Who let the dogs out? #winewednesday - Wine that’s produced, bottled, corked, and labeled in a Cali backyard


Hey Everyone,

Have you ever seen wine produced from the ground up… in someone’s backyard?

I was recently in California for some Hello Vino business, and on Saturday morning, I was able to tag along with some good friends to a friendly, backyard wine club get together.

Corking (Actually, screw caps)

The self-titled group goes by the name Woof Woof Winery, and all their bottle labels are dog themed. For instance, I tasted Clifford Red Wine and The Dogfather Pinot Noir. The group designates “work days” where the members/volunteers of the club show up to help with various activities ranging from a wine press night, to moving juice from grapes into the winery (a.k.a the Dog House).

Our task for the day was to help bottle, cork, and label the most recent vintages of Pinot Noir, Rose (Pinot Noir based), and although it’s not wine, a special bottle of Limoncello titled Bitch Blanket Babylon.

Assembly Line Labeling

It was really interesting to try each station in the production process. You had a corking machine in the flatbed of a truck that you could man. There was a small bottling station that pumped the wine out (when it got stuck, it needed to be siphoned which created hilarious chances for photos). Lastly, there was a human assembly line to glue, label, wipe down, and case the bottles.

Correction: Note received from Dennis, a Woof Woof member: “It’s a screw-cap machine, not a corker. The bottle filler is not pumped, it’s gravity flow.”

The best part about the whole backyard setup was that it seemed do-able if you were really into making your own wine. Obviously there is some material cost involved, but the wine was actually good and you didn’t need a gigantic piece of land to make it! In addition, you would never know this type of operation existed in this backyard. It seems like the creators of Woof Woof have a passionate hobby and some good people that want to help and enjoy the “fruits of their labor.”


I found a funny little description from the club’s Yahoo! group that explains the loose, good time feel:

Woof Woof Winery: A Premier Wine Making Club to have fun, make Wine, and sniff butts! Welcome to the home of the Woof Woof Winery!

It was a good group to mingle with, and for the manual labor, we all got a doggie bag of wine to take home. Pretty cool.

Our wine recommendations for future releases:   :)

Bordeaux Collie
Benji Barbera
Spike Syrah
with the Bulldog from Tom & Jerry

Jim from Hello Vino


Tasting Wine with the Winemaker - d’Art Winery, Lodi, CA

This post is our contribution to Wine Blogging Wednesday, where bloggers in the wine industry post about a single subject or theme.

On this Wine Blogging Wednesday #61, Lenn Thompson had a great idea:

Rather than walking into your local wine shop to pick up a wine for WBW, I want you to actually visit a winery and taste a wine there. Bonus points if you can taste it with the winemaker or the vineyard manager.

So on Wednesday, September 16, Hello Vino went for the bonus points and took to the road up to Lodi, California to taste a few wines with Dave Dart, owner and winemaker at d’Art Winery.  I tweeted a couple videos while I was at the tasting room, but here’s a video of Dave introducing the three wines we tasted:

The Wine Tasting

2007 d'Art Tempranillo

2007 d’Art Tempranillo

A very approachable red wine with touches of spice, nice fruit with a full mouthfeel, and a lingering finish that is quite enjoyable. Also food-friendly, this Tempranillo would pair well with sharp cheddar, roasted chicken with pepper & herbs, and spicy sausage.

More on dArtWines.com »

2006 d’Art Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

2006 d'Art Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

The “King of the Reds” - the grapes for the d’Art Cab are grown on the estate. Fittingly, the label on the bottle is a graphically-enhanced photo of the entry gate (in fact, all the wine labels are photographed and designed by Dave Dart). This is a big wine (15.5% ABV), with the distinct d’Art style of bold fruit and flavor, with softer tannins than other California Cabs. For a food pairing, you could pair this Cabernet Sauvignon with a roasted rack of lamb for dinner, then some dark, bittersweet chocolate for dessert.

More on dArtWines.com »

d'Art Lodi Port

d’Art Lodi Port

This “California style” Port is a tasty dessert wine with big fruit and nice oak, with subtle caramel and vanilla flavors. Made up of 50% Tempranillo, 35% Petite Sirah, and 15% Cab, this Port would pair well with blue cheese, chocolate with almonds or hazelnuts, and even a nice cigar.

More on dArtWines.com »

The Winery

Map & Directions to d'Art Winery

If you find yourself in the central valley of California, I highly recommend stopping into the d’Art Winery tasting room. Open Thursday through Sunday, 12-5pm, you’ll most likely be greeted by owners Dave and Helen Dart.  In addition to the tasty reds and inviting atmosphere, you can take in the creative aspects of the winery with poster art of the wine labels designed by Dave, and even a drum made from a wine barrel and deer hide. If you’re lucky, you may even find yourself tasting wines from inside the barrel room!

Rick from Hello Vino


Big Food. Big Wine. BBQ & Zin. #WineWednesday

Try Some Delicious BBQ and Zinfandel Pairings in August

But first, a little about Zin…

Zinfandel has had quite a journey. Thankfully, winemakers decided to bottle Zinfandel all by itself in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Did you know it was primarily a blending grape beforehand? The first mainstream instance of Zinfandel was spearheaded by Sutter Home Winery back in the 1970’s. The wine was pink in color, it was sweet, people went bonkers over it, and it was called White Zinfandel. At the time, and to this day, people buy White Zinfandel in droves. However, despite having huge sales to this day, White Zinfandel carries a reputation of being a starter wine, and many view it as cheap and non-worthy. After the pink version of Zinfandel had its time in the spotlight, red Zinfandel entered the scene with an entirely different personality.

Red Zinfandels (also referred to as “Zin”) typically display flavors of dark cherry, boysenberry, blackberry, and raspberry. Zins can present a berry jam taste as well, and you may hear people refer to them as being “jammy.” In addition to lush fruit flavors, Zinfandel is usually spiked with spice, select herbs, and pepper. The level of taste varies and you can gauge this a little bit by the alcohol content. Unlike its older sister wine, connoisseurs respect Zinfandel and it routinely receives accolades from industry professionals.

Quick Tip: Look at the alcohol content on the label to help guide you

  • Lower alcohol (13% - 15%) = More acid and fruit-forward. Typically food friendly.
  • Higher alcohol (16%-18%) = Raging sippers. You may hear someone refer to it as “hot”.

Good history, good wine, and some Zinfandel vineyards in California are 130+ years old! Pretty cool. A lot of excellent Zinfandels are produced in California… specifically in the Central Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Russian River Valley.

In addition, Zinfandel is considered to be one of the best wines to pair with food at a BBQ. Here are some tasty food and wine pairings to try with Zinfandel:

  • Grilled NY Strip Steak
  • A Classic Burger (with ketchup or some bacon)
  • BBQ Grilled Chicken
  • BBQ Pork Ribs
  • Romano, Kasseri, or Gorgonzola Cheese

Spice up your next cookout - Grab a California Zin and fire up the grill!

Hello Vino

This post is part of Wine Blogging Wednesday #60 - @Sonadora of www.WannabeWino.com came up with the “Zin & BBQ” theme for this week.

2005 C5 Dry Creek Zinfandel
Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma

2006 Pendleton Russian River Zinfandel
Russian River Valley, Sonoma

2007 Soquel Old Vine Zinfandel
Central Valley (Lodi), California

2006 ratZINger Zinfandel
Central Valley (Lodi), California