Yes, Virginia, there really was a Bob Dog

The Press Democrat , Wednesday, April 24th, 2013 | Posted by Mary Jo Winter

Tim Ward, owner of BobDog Wines, with his dog, Cabernet, in his 1953 Jeep named Lloyd, overlooking Sky Pine Vineyards and Alexander Valley. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

Tim Ward, owner of BobDog Wines, with his dog, Cabernet, in his 1953 Jeep named Lloyd, overlooking Sky Pine Vineyards and Alexander Valley. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)
By MARY JO WINTER / Cloverdale TOWNS correspondent

When Tim Ward and his wife, Kandy, decided to escape the rat race of Silicon Valley more than two decades ago, they looked at country properties all over California before settling on Cloverdale.

Situated on a steep mountainside northeast of town, the property offered everything they wanted, including panoramic views and land for agriculture. Best of all, the seller was motivated and the price was right.

Although the primary residence at the time was little more than a hunter’s shack, the Wards made it livable and started developing their business.

This was the beginning of Sky Pine Vineyards.

A Rottweiler puppy came to live with them in 1995. They named him Bob, and for the next eleven years, he was by Ward’s side every day as the land was prepared, the vines were planted and the grapes were carefully nurtured.

In a way, Ward says, Bob could almost be considered a co-founder of Sky Pine Vineyards, so it seemed only fitting to call their wines BobDog in his memory.

Bobdog

Bob Dog was the unofficial co-founder of Sky Pine Vineyards. (courtesy photo)

Like its namesake, Ward says BobDog Wine is whimsical and non-elitist. “We make premium wines without an attitude,” he says. “We call it the Real Deal.”

While Sky Pine Vineyards does not have an actual tasting room, visitors can call ahead and make arrangements to come directly to the winery for a unique wine tasting experience.

Not only will they be invited to walk around the vineyards, they will also be able to meet the people who planted, harvested and made the wine. They can even visit with Cabby, the newest winery mascot.

Sitting on the back deck, they sample the wines right next to the vines that once held the grapes from which they were made.

“We removed the impediment of the standard tasting room and put people in the middle of the experience – vineyard, agriculture and wine processing,” says Ward. “We often drive our guests to the top of the vineyard in our Willy’s Jeep and give them a panoramic seat-of-the-pants-view of farming on steep hillsides. People relate to this.”

Several years ago, while attending a Cloverdale Lions Club meeting, Ward met Lucille Hines from the Windsor club who made a presentation on behalf of Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). She brought one of the service dogs and its handler with her and Ward says everyone fell in love with the dog.

As for Ward, he instantly felt a connection to CCI since social stewardship, specifically the financial support of programs that offer protection and care for animals, is part of the mission statement for BobDog Wines.

A few days later, knowing that CCI had been a special project of the Lions since its inception in the 1970’s, he arranged to meet with Hines and Wes Boardman of the Santa Rosa club to discuss possible fundraising opportunities.

From this meeting, “Tapas, Treasures & Treats” was born.

Now in its fourth year, the annual event, co-sponsored by Lions Project for Canine Companions for Independence & BobDog Wines, will take place Saturday, June 1 from 2 to 5 p.m. on CCI’s Schulz Campus, 2965 Dutton Avenue in Santa Rosa.

The afternoon will include food and wine pairings, featuring BobDog Wines, along with barrel tasting, a silent auction, campus tours, CCI demonstrations and a no-host bar.

A competition has even evolved around the Tapas, which are snacks, canapés or finger food that originated in Spain, with preparers vying for top honors.

For the favorite Tapa based on presentation, flavor and originality, there’s a “Best of Breed” trophy, while the overall favorite Tapa, as chosen by guests, will be presented with a “Best of Show” trophy.

Tickets are $30 each, with every dollar going directly to CCI. Mail checks payable to LPCCI to P.O. Box 3896, Santa Rosa, CA 95402.

For more information, email them at lpcci@cci.org or call 577-1774.

Founded in 1975, CCI pioneered the concept of training specially-bred dogs to help people with disabilities, other than blindness, and was the first in-depth program of its kind.

Sky Pine Vineyards and BobDog Wines can be reached at (707) 756-2471 or by dropping a note to either tim@skypinevineyards.com or info@mybobdogwines.com.