Before people buy your wine, they want to pet your dog. Alex Sokol Blosser has accepted this.
"I don't know why—it's gotta be that when you go to a farm, you expect to see a dog," he says. "It's pretty crazy, though. People get out of the car and say, 'Do you have a dog?'"
Up runs Andre. The yellow Labrador has roamed the Sokol Blosser spread—86 acres of organic grapes beside other notable Willamette Valley vineyards like Eyrie, Domaine Drouhin and Archery Summit—for 13 years.
Oddly, winery dogs are a big deal. There are dueling books on the subject. Wine Dogs, published in Napa, includes photos and essays from noted wine writers Robert Parker and Huon Hooke. Winery Dogs prints four regional editions, including an Oregon book featuring Andre. Oh, and there's also a wine dog calendar.
Sokol Blosser, a second-generation vintner tending pinot vines planted in 1971 on what was then a dilapidated fruit orchard, thinks people appreciate a little slobber. "In the wine industry, we do a good job of taking ourselves too seriously, so sometimes dogs help bring it down to earth," he says. "You arrive at these fancy places, but when you've got a dog taking a leak in the middle, it just brings it down a notch."
Andre will hopefully get a few pets this Memorial Day weekend, the 22nd anniversary of the Willamette Valley's biggest party of the year. More than 150 wineries will open their doors, including many small farms without public tasting rooms.
"I don't let Andre out as much anymore, because he can't see as well so he starts barking at people," Sokol Blosser says. "But he's a very good boy."
If you do see Andre, keep your cheese plate close. "El Bandito" is a master poacher, once swiping from a meal prepared by well-known local chef Greg Higgins. "He's an old dog. He can't jump up on tables anymore, so things are pretty safe," Sokol Blosser says.
Andre also doesn't play much fetch at age 13—that's about 90 in human years—but he's still romping around. It's a ruff life, but someone's gotta charm the customers and do quality control. "The vet always says don't let your dog eat grapes, but Andre eats grapes like crazy," Sokol Blosser says. "Maybe it's the grapes that do it for him."
GO: Memorial Weekend in the Wine Country is Saturday-Monday, May 26-28, throughout the Willamette Valley. Info at willamettewines.com. Meet Andre at Sokol Blosser Winery, 5000 NE Sokol Blosser Lane, Dayton, 864-2282, sokolblosser.com. 10 am-4 pm daily. Tasting fee $15.
WHITE BREAD: A SOCIAL HISTORY OF THE STORE-BOUGHT LOAF
[FOOD] Bread! Itâs way more interesting than you think it is. Aaron Bobrow-Strain has written a book on the history of the humble white sliced loaf and its role in our nationâs culture, diet and politics. Grand Central Bakery, Northwest Portland location: 2249 NW York St. 5:30 pm. $5 for Slow Food Portland members, $7 for non-members. More at
[MUSIC] Luke Temple is on a hot
streak. The former Seattleiteâs third record with his excellent Brooklyn-based band Here We Go Magic, A Different Ship, is a masterpiece. It doesnât hurt Temple and company that famed Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich is on board, but this record has been a long time coming. The live shows are great, too. Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water Ave. 9 pm. $10. 21+.
POINT BREAK IN HECKLEVISION
[MOVIES] Text-heckling the greatest Zen-surfing-skydriving-bankrobbing-footchasing-homoerotic buddy cop movie of all-time? In the oddly delivered words of Anthony Kiedis, âThat would be...a waste of time.â Hollywood Theatre. 4122 NE Sandy Blvd., 281-4215. 7:30 pm. $7, $4 for members. [FAIR FUN] Bumper cars are out. The new thing at the Multnomah County Fair? Enclosing yourself inside a 7-foot plastic sphere and rolling around the surface of a giant kiddie pool. Be Jesusâor that poor little Bubble Boy, God rest his soulâfor a day. Multnomah County Fair, 7805 SE Oaks Park Way. Noon-7 pm through May 28. Free admission to fair, $8 for water balls.
HERO/VILLAIN POWER STRUGGLE
[DRESS-UP] The battle between good and evil comes to town, cleverly disguised as a drunken pub crawl. Dig out your skintight Lycra and embrace your destiny. Heroes meet at Hawthorne Hideaway. Villains meet at the Vern. The final battle goes down at the Wonder Northwest after-party. The Firkin Tavern, 1937 SE 11th Ave. 5 pm. Free. [MUSIC] Nick Waterhouse is Amy Winehouse tenfold. The 24-year-old producer-musician oozes old-school R&B soul everywhere from the big-band backdrops to the perfectly combed hair on his head. His style isnât kitschy or forced, thoughâquite the opposite. This is a convincing take on a sound youâve probably heard only on your grandpaâs gently used jazz recordsâand itâs dancing music. Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St. 8:30 pm. $10 advance, $12 day of show. 21+.