The Dog Days of Summer event at Mutt Lynch Winery this year was a heady experience. I gasped when I first saw the bottle of "Out of Reach..." sitting on the table at the dinner winemaker Brenda Lynch hosted for this year's winning artist Nancy Schutt at Ravenous in Healdsburg. Earlier this year when Brenda, label designer Rae Huestis, and I selected Nancy's entry as the winner of the Mutt Lynch Winery - Dog Art Today Wine Label Contest, I was confident the artwork would make a fantastic label. But the final product was beyond my expectations. The dark sleek bottle and capsule on top, the matte finish, the contemporary font, the cheeky ellipses, and over-sized, stand-alone artwork that wraps around the bottle -- I couldn't put it down and I think I was starting to overheat the wine with my hot, excited hands. Luckily Brenda took control and showed us how to pour without ruining the label (keep it facing up and twist wrist after filling the glass).
The wine, a "Muttitage" that includes 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, and 1% Cabernet Franc aged for 18 months in French Oak, is big, but not too big, with a lovely finish. Brenda describes it as having "aromas of cassis and red berry fruit framed by youthful tannins and pretty dark chocolate French oak flavors...[the] Merlot adds some pretty red fruit and herbs. The Cabernet Franc is like a pinch of spice... It is a wine that will soften and grow more complex with some bottle age." She encourages drinking it with a steak. I had it with the grilled sea bass and thought it paired nicely. Keep it at a low temperature and don't save it for your winter roast. "Out of Reach..." is a red for all seasons, especially patio season.
The next day at the Dogs Days of Summer open house everyone who visited seemed giddy. Sure, it was probably the wine. But there is something intoxicating about an outing where your dog is not only welcomed but celebrated. It was like a support group for dog fanatics and Darby and I fit right in. Luckily, Nancy Schutt's partner Anita Nowacka is an accomplished professional photographer who specializes in documenting families. She was the perfect person to capture a day of dogs and their doting "parents." Here are some hightlights...
Smiles, wine, and dogs
Thank you, Brenda Lynch for your inspiring spirit and sharing the art of winemaking with us. Thank you, Ann Joly for your endless energy and savant-like knowledge of everyone on in Sonoma and their dog. Thank you, Rae Huestis for your exquisite label design. Thank you, Nancy Schutt for making the trip down from Seattle and bringing your creativity to the day. And thank you, Anita Nowacka for your beautiful photography and expertise.
To buy a bottle of "Out of Reach..." click here.
Visit Seattle dog artist Nancy Schutt's website to see more of her work. Limited edition prints of "Out of Reach..." will be available in September.
All photos by Seattle Family Photographer Anita Nowacka.