It often seems as though we have the best of both worlds here on Whidbey: it’s laid-back and relaxing nearly every day and yet we still have an incredible number of restaurants, shops and – perhaps most importantly – wineries. If you’re like me, and you like your wine paired with good people and good stories, you will want to visit Whidbey Island’s Spoiled Dog Winery sooner rather than later.
We visited Spoiled Dog Winery on a rainy Whidbey day last week, but the weather could do nothing to dampen the spirits of our warm and welcoming hosts, Jake and Lindsay Krug. Originally from Denver, Jake and Lindsay made the move to Whidbey three years ago to join Jake’s parents, Jack and Karen, at Spoiled Dog. Jack and Karen founded the winery, and what they have all built together over the last 15 years is nothing short of magic.
Spoiled Dog Winery is located in Langley, Washington, on the south end of Whidbey Island. Just four miles from the Clinton Ferry, Spoiled Dog is an ideal way to experience Whidbey. Emerging from the forested driveway, you will be greeted with an expansive view of Maxwelton Valley. With such a beautiful natural backdrop, I could instantly understand why Spoiled Dog’s summer winemaker dinners in the orchard are so popular. And why Spoiled Dog would be a stunning setting for your rehearsal dinner! Lindsay was kind enough to send me some images of their summer dinners, to help us visualize beyond the current weather:
Jake and Lindsay led us on a tour of the property and we fell in love with the two of them and the farm. These two were born to host and to do it together. Both are extremely hands on with the entire business, and both equally passionate about the work they are doing. As we walked, Jake shared the history of the farm with us – his family’s story which he now continues – and his passion and dedication to winemaking could not have been more obvious. He spoke about the production process with an intensity that made me think that this was never a career he fell in to because of his parents. This is a career he has chosen, and one that he cares deeply about.
“We changed our lifestyle to do this. People ask us what else we do for work. This is it. This is our full time job.” -Lindsay
Spoiled Dog Winery is acutely focused on sourcing Washington grown fruit from vineyards with organic practices. In fact, all of the grapes used for their award winning Estate Pinot Noir are grown at the farm, and they were the first winery on Whidbey Island to commercially produce a red grape.
Fall is harvest time. They are picking their own grapes and getting calls from their partner farms in Eastern Washington. Then it’s time for “grape running”, hopping in the truck and making the trip to the other side of the state to pick up grapes that will then be de-stemmed and crushed back at the winery.
All fermentation happens at the winery, as does all aging (reds are aged in oak for a minimum of one year) and bottling. Spoiled Dog has their own bottling equipment, which affords them the freedom of bottling whenever wine is ready to be bottled. Some wineries employ a mobile bottler, but at Spoiled Dog bottling is definitely a hand craft and a community effort at that. Volunteers routinely show up to help with the process and, given how genuinely enjoyable our time with Jake and Lindsay was, I can imagine the bottling party is a great one.
Winter at the winery means maintenance. The cycle of grapes is annual, and the same things are happening year over year. Jack is out on his tractor, Karen and Jake are pruning. “We don’t outsource anything,” Jake declared simply, and proudly. “We love that – we get to learn all aspects of it,” Lindsay agreed, equally proud.
We had the pleasure of tasting four of Spoiled Dog Winery’s white wines during our visit. The Pooch White was first, and is one of the winery’s innovative wines on tap. These wines are handcrafted on site, aged and then transferred to 20-30 liter kegs. This method results in fantastic wine, easily served at your event with zero bottle recycling. Of course, if one prefers bottled wine, Spoiled Dog has 17 different options for you to choose from. I loved the Pooch White so much I took home one of Spoiled Dog’s cute growlers full of it.
Our second wine was the Sauvignon Blanc, made with grapes from Yakima in Eastern Washington and the highest awarded Spoiled Dog white wine. Our third wine was the Pinot Gris, and our last was the Escape Blanc. All were delicious, smooth and poured up in such an inviting, comfortable way. Jake and Lindsay strive for an “elegant, professional experience with tastings, but casual and not intimidating”. Mission definitely accomplished. Our tasting felt like an afternoon with friends. Jake and Lindsay are genuine, unpretentious people, crafting outstanding wine in a beautiful place.
Spoiled Dog Winery is a definite destination for you and your family and friends. The winery is open Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m., and private tastings are available by appointment. Time here is sure to be enjoyed, as will their wines when served at your rehearsal dinner or reception. After all, we deserve to be spoiled too, don’t we?