Tired of taking your pooch to the same dog parks and play areas? Enjoy your food and wine and getting away from the city for a day?

Look no further than Gourmet Pawprints doggy winery tours. Yes, a winery tour where you can take your beloved pet (!!).

Kerry Watt quit the corporate life and started Gourmet Pawprints to bring together her passions of food and wine and dogs. She also wanted to spend more time with her fur-baby Diesel. A lot of research and planning goes into choosing venues for the tours, making sure all places are dog-friendly.

I found out about Kerry’s niche business when I got an email through work last year. I thought it would be a great idea for a story, and she invited me along to join in the fun. At this stage, our dog Dougall wasn’t old enough to go (sad face) so I went by myself.

I was fortunate enough to go on the inaugural truffle hunt tour in July (yep, it was a while ago now!) which took in wineries in the Yarra Valley. It was so popular that their two tours sold out.

We got some off-lead time at Lillydale Lake (my local!) before heading to Soumah in Gruyere for a truffle tutorial. Stuart Dunbar from Yarra Valley Truffles gave us the low-down on the fungi, which can cost $2-3 a GRAM.

Yarra Valley Truffles is in Woori Yallock, with the truffiere (truffle orchard) planted in 2006, and production starting in 2011. Harvest season is usually from July to August.

Stuart and truffle dog Lani showed us how she sniffs out a truffle, and then canines on the tour got to find their own (strategically placed treats with a bit of the truffle) in an open bit of grass.

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Truffle hunting at Soumah.

We then did some wine tasting before an amazing three-course lunch that included antipasti, a main (hello pasta with sage and butter sauce with truffle!) and a cheese selection to finish. Amazing! And in the meantime, a couple of animal carers kept an eye on the dogs.

The afternoon’s next stop was at Maddens Rise in Coldstream for some more wine tasting and a lie on the lawn in the sun while the pooches stretched their legs again before the trip back to Port Melbourne.

I loved the day so much that when I was invited on another tour, this time of the Dandenong Ranges (and with Dougall!), I couldn’t say no. I even got my hubby to come along as well!

The inaugural tour of the Dandenong Ranges late last year again started in Port Melbourne, and took in tastings at Whispering Hills and, later in the day, Elmswood Estate – both in Seville.

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Dougall having a vine time at Whispering Hills.

Our dogs were allowed off the leash near the vines at Whispering Hills, and there was lots of goodies to take away – I definitely recommend the sourdough bread!

Elmswood Estate has AMAZING views – touted as some of the best in the Yarra Valley.

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Carb-loading up at Whispering Hills.

We also got to take our dogs (on-lead) through the spectacular Alfred Nicholas Gardens before having an amazing lunch at the Piggery Cafe at Burnham Beeches. It’s always good to see a reserved table when the place is chockers! Starting off with bread and olive oil, we then worked our way through a charcuterie platter and lobster rolls. Mains were a choice of wagyu beef burgers, charcoal chicken, whole fish of the day or pumpkin and goat’s cheese gnocchi. Plus a complimentary glass of wine. And then they gave us a takeaway coffee and desserts. Legends!

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All the food at the Piggery Cafe. And that was just for starters!

Yes, it’s a bit pricey (regular tours are $195 for adults, $20 dogs) but it’s a full day and includes bus transfer, morning tea and water, two or three-course lunch, and wine tastings. It also includes supervision for your pet while you enjoy the food. And it’s something you don’t do every day, so I think as a gift or something to treat yourself, it is a great idea and is something different.

There are tours to the Yarra Valley, Dandenong Ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Daylesford. Venues are always changing so regular guests have new experiences. Some people are up to their fifth tour! Each tour includes wine tastings at two places and lunch and wine at another venue.

The tours include some off-leash time when meeting in Port Melbourne before the bus journey. And there is plenty more time for your pooch to stretch their legs during the day. I found Dougall was very tired  after the excitement of it all!

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Just appreciating the view at Elmswood Estate.

 

This year’s truffle tour is to Daylesford on Sunday, July 10. Early-puppy prices (until May 31) are $210 for adults and $15 for dogs. After that it costs $20 more per adult.

There is also a weekend getaway tour to the Mornington Peninsula, September 9-11 (only two spots left). And they also do doggy winery cinema in summer – yes, you can take your canine to the movies!

Private tours are also available for those who want to get a group together and go exploring. Think school parent groups, social events, fundraising groups.

For all tours, dogs must be de-sexed and be vaccinated to C5 level.

For more details, go to the Gourmet Pawprints website.

Note: In the interests of disclosure, the truffle tour was complimentary. The second tour we went on included one complimentary guest, but we also paid for another guest.

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