NAPA – Most Napa Valley wineries specialize in human food and drink, but at Migration Winery, dogs are treated like any other valued guest.
“When it comes to your favorite places, why wouldn’t you want to take your best friend with you,” asks John Hixon, Migration’s hospitality manager. “I want to be able to take my pet to my favorite place.”
For Hixon, that best friend is 6-year-old rescue pup Thor.
“He’s showered with love here at the winery,” he told CBS News Bay Area. “Everyone is so excited, especially when I announced he’s coming every day. We take turns bringing dogs here, and I love that he’s an official winery puppy. We had to make it official with a name tag for him, so on that way he’s just like the rest of the staff here.”
What started as just a water bowl and welcome treat has grown into a full-on tasting room dog experience, complete with a “bark cuterie board” of special treats.
“This is their banana, peanut butter, banana, buckwheat cookie and now we can personalize it, which has been so well received that guests have asked,” Hixon explained. “We can surprise them a little bit if we release it with the pup’s name already on it.”
It’s details like this that caught the attention of the San Francisco SPCA, which presented their first pet-friendly business awards in honor of their 155th anniversary this year. Migration Winery took top prize in the bar category and paired well with their range of Duckhorn family wines.
“At the end of the day, we’re all about adopting as many animals as possible, and the good news, and it could be partly due to this trend, we’re adopting more animals than we’ve done in years. At this point, including more than in the COVID years,” said Anne Mollering, head of rescue and welfare for the SF SPCA. “We’re quite happy with it and would love to see these animals move from our doors to the restaurant and bar doors of our award winners.”
Establishments in the Bay Area have long served four-legged customers, usually by welcoming their presence and offering a water bowl. But in recent years, the hospitality industry has experienced a trend as diners become more interested in including their furry friends in the wake of the high adoption rate during the COVID pandemic.
According to the SPCA, 23 million US households acquired a pet during the pandemic.
While some companies are accommodating, others — like Migration — are creating a whole new market for people to enjoy a meal, activity, or wine tasting along with a tasting for their pup.
“I think it has something to do with this kind of lifestyle change,” Hixon explained. “The pandemic has really brought us closer to our pets, and we want to be able to take them to the places we can.”
For Josh and Thor, this pet-friendly place has become a lifestyle. It’s not only a way to bond, but also to show others that everyone is welcome.