When I heard Mom and I would be visiting a winery Mom called Woof’n Rose, I knew I was in for a treat—what I failed to anticipate was just how many. We arrived at the estate winery in Ramona Valley and were immediately greeted by dogs Tawny and Syrah. I then shot Mom some serious side-eye for not giving me a wine name.
Next, we met Marilyn and Steve Kahle—the husband-and-wife team behind Woof’n Rose who are dedicated to making quality wines from entirely local fruit. Steve has been making the wine since their first vintage in 2007, while Marilyn manages the tasting room and gives the best head scratches in town. They told stories as they poured our flight and gracefully answered my many questions like:
What wine regions inspire you?
A: Bordeaux and Sonoma.
How long do you age your wines?
A: 2 ½ to 3 years.
Do you mind if I chase that squirrel?
A: Go for it.
What truly makes Woof’n Rose so special is the warm welcome you get from this local family. Their open-air tasting veranda feels like relaxing on a porch with great company, sweeping views of nature, and award-winning wines. Here are a few I recommend getting your paws on.
2017 ‘Happy Tails’ Red Blend
Smells like blackberry bramble and the dark chocolate Mom never lets me close enough to taste. Flavors of ripe black cherry and herbs, with robust tannins that feel like tugging on the sleeve of a sweater and inspires an equivalent level of joy. Different each vintage, this blend is made from the leftover varietals grown on the estate which have not been allocated to other bottlings. BEST. LEFTOVERS. EVER. And I consider myself quite the connoisseur of leftovers. I can confirm this aptly named wine surely induces tail wagging.
2016 Estate Malbec
Smells like the inviting wafts of espresso in a coffee shop just before inhaling my sweet vanilla cream puppuccino. The subtle fruit on the nose transforms on the palate with an explosion of bright mixed berries, perfectly ripe and bursting with acidity. As if I needed another excuse to slobber so much.
2016 Estate Cabernet Franc
Aromas of cherry pie and the alluring path of crushed gravel that leads to the dog park. On the palate, bold ripe fruit is balanced by elegant acidity, putting this wine next to me in the “gentle giant” category. Drink it now, or watch it age beautifully for another 70–100 years (about 10–15 human years).
2016 ‘Eglantine’ Red Blend
This blend of 50% Cabernet Franc, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25% Petit Verdot leaps out of the glass with aromas of tobacco, bing cherry, and spice. Juicy pomegranate flavors and velvety tennis ball tannins linger on the palate. Named ‘Eglantine’ after a flower commonly known as the dog-rose, this wine felt like it was made for me. Mom also seemed impressed and kept asking to “revisit” it—a phrase I plan on stealing next time I get a treat.
2016 ‘Neuf Anges’ Grenache Noir
This fortified dessert wine smells like the raspberry fruit snacks you wait patiently under a toddler’s chair for. Though at 20% ABV, it tastes more like adult cotton candy. Lusciously sweet, this would pair perfectly with any dessert. Mom recommends trying it over ice with prosecco and soda whenever you need a little “hair of the dog.” This came as a shock to me, as I swore I left enough of that for her on the couch!
Visit Woof’n Rose Winery on weekends from 11am–5pm, appointments recommended.
17073 Garjan Ln., Ramona, CA • 760-788-4818
*Disclaimer: While the tasting notes and descriptions are accurately depicted, no dogs were actually served wine for the purposes of this article. Wine is considered toxic to dogs and should never be offered but we hope you’ve enjoyed a laugh or two with us.