Woof! The wine’s Purr-fect

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If you are a wine lover who also loves animals as do many winemakers, you’re in good company. Ten years ago, illustrators Craig McGill and Susan Elliott, first published a book on dogs at wineries. So successful were they – with more than half a million copies sold – that they are back now with a book on cats in the wine trade. Kanika Dhawan got in touch to learn more. Here are excerpts from an e-mail interview. Pictured: Bob Campbell’s cat, Mr Wu


How did you decide to write about wine dogs and cats?
We’d travel to wineries and be greeted by dogs. We’d take a picture with the dog, and we’d look back and every second photo was a dog photo. We said there was probably a book in this. We have now published 11 “Wine Dogs” books, showcasing winemaker’s hounds from America, Australia, Italy and New Zealand. And after years of requests from cat lovers around the world, we have just released our first “Wine Cats” book this year.
Do dogs, cats and other animals in a vineyard help the winemakers in any way or are they just faithful companions?
We feel that wine dogs and cats make for a friendlier atmosphere when customers arrive. Going to a winery can be quite intimidating for first time visitors, and it’s a big mystery for young people. Also, making wine is a lot of work and winemakers often work late at night. Dogs and cats provide great companionship and there’s a strong bond between the owners and their animals. That really comes through in the books.
Can you share an interesting anecdote about a cat from a winery?
New Zealand Master of Wine and wine writer, Bob Campbell has a very large 8.5 kg orange cat called Mr Wu who sits with Bob during his wine tastings. Bob noticed that every now and again, when he pulled the cork out of a bottle, Mr Wu would make a strange sound but didn’t make the sound when Bob opened a screw cap closure. Bob was amazed to discover that Mr Wu actually had a special talent that enables him to sniff out cork taint!
What’s next on the agenda for you as a publisher?
We’re working on a “Wine Dogs California edition” and “Wine Dogs South Africa.” We look forward to visiting wine dogs and Cats from all over the world – maybe even from India!

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