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David Morrisette
February 3, 2015 | Chateau Morrisette History and Interesting Facts | David Morrisette

The winery the dogs built

The Winery the Dogs Built

The Morrisette family planted their first grape vines in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia near Floyd in 1978. There were no other working wineries in the State of Virginia at that time. Working in the basement of his home, David Morrisette produced the first commercial wine in 1982 with the help of his ever-trusty companion, Hans, a black Labrador Retriever that helped him graduate from Mississippi State University.

Hans stuck by David during planting, growing and harvest season, and was expert in lapping up any wine spillage during production. Hans was instrumental in encouraging the Morrisettes to persevere in their hobby-gone-wild venture by offering moral support, a warm muzzle and a friendly handshake through thick and thin. David wanted to de-mystify wine for the public and produced The Black Dog Wine in 1991 in honor of Hans. The wine label sported an original art design showing a black dog drinking out of a young lady’s wine glass.

The Black Dog Wine is a unique blend of Chambourcin, Cabernet, Merlot and Petit Verdot producing an exceptionally smooth semi-dry red wine. Its appealing spicy character and medium body enhance many dishes as well as light hors d’oeuvres. This wine is reasonably priced at around $11 per bottle and has become a favorite with customers because of its smoothness and value. “It’s obviously well bred!”

Hans also inspired the Chateau Morrisette crest: two dogs standing on their hind legs holding up a grape vine-adorned “M” shield. Other dogs have followed Hans and continue to uphold his high standards: Our Dog Blue, Blushing Dog, Frosty Dog are just a few.

Customers swarm to the web site: “” and often ask twice, thinking they have mis-heard. “Who doesn’t like dogs?” David says – they continue to play an integral part in the winery that welcomes novices and snobs alike in a friendly high-altitude setting.


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