There truly is nothing better than a nice, refreshing glass of wine on a warm day, especially after a busy one. One thing that can make that day even better? Being able to bring along your furry friend. You can do just that at Vines & Canines, a pet-friendly wine and pet shop in the Highlands that also features wine tastings.
Owner Marc De Michele, a level one sommelier and dog lover, knows a thing of two about both. Spending a good portion of his life in fine dining establishments working with wine, as well as hosting wine tastings for various clients in their private homes, one thing always struck him. The dogs that were present and how they almost added to the tasting experience. As a dog lover myself, it’s hard to ignore a cute dog in the room, but for De Michele, he recognized a concept with business potential.
De Michele had the idea to somehow combine his love for wine and his love for dogs. After stewing over the how-to’s, he launched Vines & Canines, an online pet and specialty wine shop that sells nice bottles of wines that are easy on the wallet, as well as cool T-shirts and other pet accessories. His online store was a quick success, and De Michele found that it was largely due to Louisville’s small community and its lack of small, quality wine labels.
His idea had legs, and his dream of opening a brick-and-mortar store became a reality in 2012, when he opened the Vines & Canines store on Frankfort Avenue. Though business was booming, De Michele felt he could continue to grow in a different location. And, as luck would have it, a spot in the Douglas Loop opened up just as his Frankfort Avenue lease was ending. The timing was right to pack up and head to the Highlands.
The new Vines & Canines location at 1985 Douglass Blvd. has been nothing but a success since opening a little more than a year ago. The new store features a wine and pet shop in the front and a tasting room in the back. Plenty of seating is available around the tasting room and off to the side for patrons and their four-legged friends. Additionally, De Michele is building a back patio with hanging lights, tables, chairs and a lovely climbing ivy wall. He hopes to have the space complete within the next three weeks, just in time for this warm weather tease to make a permanent stay.
I headed over the Vines & Canines on a recent warm evening with a few friends and my labrador, Bella. The doors were open, with visitors enjoying wine with their dogs on the front patio.We browsed around the store and perused the great selection of wines, available at great prices, before heading to the cozy tasting room in back.
De Michele hand selects all of the wines carried in his store. And he tries to stick to smaller companies, ones that typically only produce between 5,000 and 10,000 bottles per year. While many would assume his prices are high since he caters to smaller production companies, the cost is actually very reasonable, usually $15 to $20 per bottle.
When we visited, they had a refreshing selection of great wines chosen for that particular day. We tried whites and reds, both of which were delicious. De Michele likes to switch up the tasting offerings every week or so.
After a glass (or two) of wine, we moved on to Vines & Canines’ new cocktail list, featuring drinks like The Frenchie, the Shiba Inu, Rufus Rye, as well as classics like the Bloody Mary and an Old-Fashioned. De Michele kindly prepared us The Blue Heeler, made with Rittenhouse Rye, Dolin Sweet Vermouth, Fee Bros. Plum Bitters, blackberry and blueberry preserves, with a blackberry and blueberry garnish on top. Sounds good, right? It was! It was refreshing and had the perfect kick to it.
Vine, Bark & Brew
Vines & Canines has wine tastings in house and also co-hosts, with Great Flood Brewing Company, Vine, Bark, & Brew, which takes place the last Thursday of every month in the back parking lot behind Vines & Canines. Guests can enjoy food trucks, live music, wine tastings and, of course, dogs galore. A portion of the proceeds from Vine, Bark, & Brew go to Arrow Fund, a nonprofit organization providing medical treatment for abused animals. With only a few events under their belt, it has been a great success thus far.
If you haven’t been to Vines & Canines yet, you should definitely add it to the list. De Michele is truly passionate about everything from his selection of wines to entertaining his guests and meeting all of the dogs that stop in with their owners. Head over there on a warm evening and enjoy a refreshing glass of wine from their excellent selection, chat with the knowledgeable staff and don’t forget to bring along your furry friend. Cheers!
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