We all know the value of animals working tail in hand, tusk in hand, paw in hand or snout in hand with their human friends. I have fond memories of feeding a workhorse in Saint-Emilion, France. Named Reveuse, his job was to work on the steep limestone slopes of the local vineyards. Today, people in the wine business are using our four-legged friends anywhere they can.


dogs inspecting stacks of oak staves


Above, two Labrador retrievers named Zamba and Mamba track and sniff stacks of oak staves destined for wine barrels. Tight grain oak is used in the cooperage industry. Like the cork, wood is still a porous material. Chemical compounds in the wood, such as TCA (2,4,6-trichloroanisole) and TBA (2,4,6-tribromoanisole) are found on staves during the seasoning process. Staves are subject to the elements for twelve to forty months in some cases. Undetected, these compounds will contaminate the flavors and aromas of wine. Humans have the ability to detect the concentration of the compounds TCA and TBA in PPT (parts per trillion). Dogs, however, are able to detect the concentration of these compounds 10,000 times better than humans.

Specially trained canines can also be used to prevent vineyard pests and winery disasters. A dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times more acute than a human’s, thanks to 300 million olfactory receptors. For years, dogs have been used in truffle orchards to dig up the precious tubers. Dogs now serve as essential weapons in the war all grape growers wage against vineyard pests and diseases.


Golden Retrievers sniffing out mealy bugs in vineyard


The Golden Retrievers above are trained to sniff out the pheromone of female mealy bugs, vine by vine. These insect pests can feed on vines and eventually kill them. Catching mealy bugs early prevents vineyard managers from needing to spend thousands of dollars on chemicals for their land.  Everyone, including consumers, will benefit from avoiding pesticides. And after all, a dog using its skills in a vineyard is about as organic as it gets.

The next project to tackle is eliminating vineyard nests of yellow jackets, which suck sugar from the grapes or phylloxera.  This decimated European vineyards in the 19th century.

WineShop At Home also has a crack team in place:


WineShop At Home staff with their dogs


Our finances are in good hands with Larry and his Corgi, Benson. Our wines are well taken care by Tim and Barbara and their newest Boston Terrier, Ivy.  Jeremy is looking after your Wine Club while Karl the Chihuahua just likes to supervise.


WineShop At Home staff wine dogs


When Pat is on the road doing training events, Marley the Beagle, Lily the Shih Tzu and Angus the Black Labrador wait patiently for her return. And there’s always something cooking in the Information Technology department with chef Alvin and his sous chef, Pop-Tart.


WineShop At Home staff with dogs


In between recognition calls, training & promotion analysis, Chat and Chloe the Maltipoo like to hit the golf course for a round or two. After helping new Wine Consultants get started with their businesses, Sookie the Goldendoodle loves to take selfies while roaming the woods with Marlene & Kenny.


WineShop At Home staff with dogs


Bolo the Blue-Nose Pit is Loanna’s right hand in the printing room. Dodger, Knight and Angel are active participants in Shelley’s training webinars. Harper the Collie is Wendy’s biggest fan and our official helper during photo shoots and wine label design meetings.


WineShop At Home staff with dogs


A well-behaved Teddie helps our CEO Jane at the helm of WineShop At Home. And I found out, by accident, that Lilly does not like Cabernet Sauvignon. Well, more for the rest of us, right?