It's crush time in the vineyards! We aren't necessarily known for spectacular fall colors in the San Francisco area but what we are known for are our grapes! In September and October the wineries kick it into full gear as the harvest season begins and work goes from morning until after the sun sets. I rarely tour the local wineries so when I saw that there was a special hike planned at Kunde Family Estate in Kenwood, just north of Sonoma, I had to sign up! What made it so special? It was created especially for people who wanted to hike with their dogs through beautiful vineyards! To top it off the tour was personally guided by Jeff & Roberta Kunde and their dogs Cooper and Marley!
We met up with about 40 other people at the Visitor's Center and it was exciting to see so many dogs of various ages, breeds, and abilities show up for the hike. The hike also benefits Canine Companions For Independence and the Sonoma County Humane Society so it was nice to know that a portion of the proceeds went to help out other animals in need of good homes, and to support those dogs that help people enjoy their independence and make their lives easier. Jeff Kunde gave us a quick introduction to his family and the history of the winery and after a once we had the "rules of the road" down we all headed up into the hills!
Guess how long it took the dogs, especially the Labs, to jump in the water? About 1 second after they saw the pond! The Kunde's generously allowed all the dogs to take a dip in the pond while we kicked back at the top of the levee enjoying a few sips of their wine and getting to know the other hikers and dogs in the group. Even Hazel decided to stroll on into the water to cool off a bit!
One of the most interesting parts of the walk was getting a chance to try a grape from their 130 year old vines! Quite a difference from their other varieties, these were crisp and lightly sweetened, and amazingly delicious while the other Cabernet grapes were thicker and very sweet. What's even more impressive is that all the wines created by their winemaker, Zach Long, are made only from the grapes grown on the estate!
I swear I could have taken this big boy home with me after the hike, but he is still available at the Sonoma County Humane Society! Unfortunately I forgot his name (Kody?) but he is a sturdy, sweet boy and part Anatolian Shepherd from the looks of him!
We ended the hike by having one last swim at the Visitor's Center and a wonderful lunch outside on the patio. After lunch there was a contest to see what team could de-stem the most amount of grapes in 5 minutes and I have to say that team Hazel had an impressive 4.2 lbs but we didn't even come close to the winner at over 5 lbs in 5 minutes! It's not as easy at it seems and I'm definitely in awe of their staff that has to do an entire harvest by hand for one of their Reserve Series. Learn more about the harvest on the Kunde Family Estate Facebook page!
We had such a fun time and met so many people that we ended up joining the club! We can't wait to go back with all the dogs for their next hike and to try out more of their amazing wine! We would love to have you join us as well so we'll be posting the next hiking date on our Facebook page as soon as it becomes available!