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Jana Harvey
 
August 1, 2018 | Jana Harvey

Say Hello to Sekt Series Part 3

Sparkle Through Summer - Say Hello to Sekt Series Part 3

This sparkler was practically made for a summer soiree, with its juicy crush of stone fruit flavors and waves of refreshing minerality coupled with racy acidity. The Jana Blanc de Blanc holds its own during a meal thanks to its complexity and voluptuous body, and complements a variety of cuisines perfectly. To finish out this bubbly blog series, we’re sharing some of our favorite summer dishes to enjoy with our Sekt-style Jana Blanc de Blanc!

Fresh Vietnamese Noodle Salad

Crunchy, fresh, and satisfying, this simple Vietnamese-inspired dish begs for hot summer days and a glass of Jana Blanc de Blanc. The salad brings a hint of acid to complement but not overpower the wine’s pronounced acidity on the palate, and its touch of fiery spice serves as this bubbly’s perfect foil. Grill some chicken or pork to serve on alongside the salad, pop a bottle, and you’ve got yourself a perfect evening, if you ask us.

Easy Moo Shu Pork

Packed with vibrant sweet and savory flavors, this dish is as delicious as it is simple, allowing for maximum time to enjoy the summer evening with a glass (or a few) of Jana Blanc de Blanc. The dish’s straightforward elements delightfully contrast the wine’s intricate mosaic of flavors on the palate.

Grilled Veggie and Meat Skewers

Think seasonal delicacies like eggplant, mushroom, squash, red onion, and bell pepper skewered alongside chicken, pork, you name it! The wine’s crisp flavors and bright texture bring out the same qualities in the vegetables you choose. A sip of Jana Blanc de Blanc after a bite of grilled goodness strikes the perfect gastronomic balance.

So whether you choose to sip your sparkler solo this summer or alongside one of these simple summer specialties, we hope you feel a little extra sparkly!

Time Posted: Aug 1, 2018 at 11:33 AM
Jana Harvey
 
July 24, 2018 | Jana Harvey

Reading Between the Vines

Putting wine into words tends to elude even the most talented philosophers and linguists. Ancient Greek playwright Euripides came close when he said, “Both to the rich and poor, wine is the happy antidote for sorrow.” Centuries later, author Paulo Coelho encourages readers to “accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.”


Mosel, Germany

Wine speaks without words, though humans try to translate its language with every sip, every layer of flavor, every year in the cellar. Perhaps what’s most difficult to grasp about wine’s existence is its terroir, which has no direct English translation. (Terroir, in English, combines 5 traits: climate, soil, terrain, vintage, and in some areas with a long history of winemaking, tradition.)

Grapevines grow in some of the most fascinating and geographically treacherous places in the world–whether it’s Riesling rooted inside blue slate on staggering grades in the craggs of German mountain towns or Assyrtiko curled into nests rooted in volcanic ash on the Santorini coast, wine is not just a product of where it came from, it is a time capsule, a bottled poem written by the wind, the rain, the soil, and sun. We carefully craft wines of distinction that tell their story of place, variety, tradition and vintage. Our wine is a true expression of terroir.

Santorini, Greece

A winemaker like Scott Harvey tends to the vines and makes the resulting wine to best express terroir. He is the winemaker, after all. But most European languages don’t even have a word for winemaker–the closest translation equates to “wine grower.” By definition, wine and its terroir transcend the passage of man. Scott Harvey, however, has found a balance between using traditional methods to bring out the best of the grapes’ character, and allowing the grapes and the resulting wine to speak for themselves.


With his dynamic background in winemaking beginning with his training in Rheinland Pfalz in Germany, Scott has sharpened his terroir-translating skills with old-world winemakers whose families had been making wine for generations. He approaches his vines and wines through an old world lens, allowing for their bright, California character to shine through the old-world influence of minimal oak and balanced winemaking techniques.

During Scott Harvey experiences, you have the chance to immerse yourself in Amador terroir. Feel the soil beneath your feet on a walk around the vineyards, let the sun’s rays warm your skin, and taste in the winery nestled in the rolling hills and valleys of vines. Listen as the master of the old world himself, Scott Harvey, tells you what is happening at that moment in the vineyards and how it affects the wine in your glass. And if you’re a 3&3 wine & food pairing guest or enjoying a vineyard tour with Scott, you’ll taste the wine these very vineyards birthed. So read between the vines–allow terroir to be translated by all of your senses, and come discover Scott Harvey.

Time Posted: Jul 24, 2018 at 9:21 AM
Jana Harvey
 
June 19, 2018 | Jana Harvey

Sparkle Through Summer Series: Say Hello to Sekt!

Enter Scott Harvey: Master of Old-World-style Wines in the New World

Scott’s interest in winemaking took hold when he was a high school exchange student in Rheinland Pfalz, Germany. It was there he discovered the artisanal method of not just producing but crafting wines, through a delicate balance of art and science. After college, he returned to Germany to apprentice at K. Fitz-Ritter and simultaneously attend the prestigious Weinbau Schule in Neustadt.

A Study in Sekt

Throughout his studies, Scott found that there were distinct quality differences between the sparkling wines that were made using the tank or transfer methods, and those that were crafted in the traditional method. Greater still, he noticed, the divide between Sekt made with more abundant, affordable varieties like Muller-Thurgau or Silvaner, and those whose base wine was difficult-to-manage, costly Riesling.

The most highly-regarded German Sekts are called Winzersekt and are dry, usually made with estate-grown Riesling grapes. Scott Harvey, now in his fourth decade of winemaking, has perfected the art of old world Sekt in the new world of wine with his Jana Blanc de Blanc.

In his own words:

“I love making and drinking sparkling wine. When Jana and I travel I always throw in a bottle of sparkling wine in to enjoy somewhere along the way. Great on a long hike to a distant mountain peak.

I was trained in the art of making sparkling wine at the third oldest sparkling wine house (K Fitz Ritter Sekt Kellerei) in Germany. That was 45 years ago when we still hand riddled all the bottles. I learned how to produce a dry brut style Riesling Sekt. Ever since then I have been producing ‘Methode Champenoise’ sparkling wines in California. Our current release is 100% Riesling, three years on triage and produced as a high quality brut just like we did at K Fitz Ritter and as it is done in Champagne France.”

—Scott Harvey

The Place

Scott sources the Riesling grapes for the Jana Blanc de Blanc, named for his wife Jana Harvey, from one of the last Riesling vineyards left in Mendocino County, Nelson Ranch. Nestled in an upland side canyon, the 40-year-old vineyard births small, intensely flavorful grapes.

The Wine

After its second fermentation, Scott allows this dry Sekt-style wine to rest en Tirage (on the lees) for three years, creating a deep, complex tessellation of aromas and flavors once the wine hits the glass. Racy yet delicate, the Jana Blanc de Blanc bursts onto the palate with flavors of lychee, brioche, fresh cream, juicy peaches, and apricot blossom, tied together with buoyant acidity, elegant bubbles, and shimmering minerality, which meld into a long, fresh finish. It’s summer’s soulmate, pure freshness in a bottle. The Jana Blanc de Blanc is anything but ordinary. We can't wait for you to pop a bottle this summer, and make your summer extraordinary. 

Time Posted: Jun 19, 2018 at 1:50 PM
Jana Harvey
 
May 31, 2018 | Jana Harvey

Sparkle Through Summer Series: The 3 Methods of Sparkling Winemaking

The three methods of sparkling winemaking

Fizz, pop, clink, sip. This ritual is one bubbly-lovers hold sacred, and many look to Champagne for their fizzy fix. Made with mainly Chardonnay grapes, Blanc de Blancs from Champagne has enjoyed a lifetime of prestige, so much so that many French Champagne houses have grown to be international brands whose wine is made on multiple continents, including our own.

What few realize is that German winemakers have been making sparkling wine, or Sekt, in an off-dry style, using affordable varieties from more economical regions such as Muller-Thurgau. Most producers of the boozy bubbly beverage use the economical Tank Method (like Prosecco). Larger houses (rarely in Germany) produce their bubbly through the slightly more complex transfer method. Less use high-quality and pricey Riesling grapes and lesser still use the labor-intensive and time-consuming traditional method of production. So what exactly are the differences between the three methods of sparkling wine production? In the first of a three-part series, we’ll break down the three most commonly-used means of production.

Photo Credit: Wine Folly

Traditional Method

The Traditional Method of sparkling winemaking goes by many names: Méthode Champenoise, Méthode Traditionelle, Méthode Cap Classique, to name a few. Whatever the alias, the finished products are some of the most celebrated due to the sheer amount of time, labor and money that went into their creation. The most magical part? The entire transformation from still to sparkling wine takes place inside the glass walls of each bottle. 

 

 

Base Wine

First, grapes are picked (usually sooner than grapes used solely for still wines, to preserve acidity) and fermented to dry as usual. The winemaker blends multiple base wines together to create a cuvée (blend).

Tirage

Next, the base wine is bottled and a precise mixture of yeast, wine, and sugar called liqueur de tirage is added to the base wine to each bottle, which are capped with a crown cap (like a beer bottle). This triggers the second fermentation.

Second Fermentation

The second fermentation creates about 1.3% more alcohol and carbon dioxide, and spent yeast cells that remain in the bottle.

Aging

The wine is then left to age on these spent yeast cells, or lees (sur lie, or en tirage) to develop texture, complexity, and autolytic character in the wine. This process is entirely subjective and can be anywhere from 9 months to 5 years, depending on quality. Many believe the longer the wine rests on the lees, the better.

 

 

Riddling

Once the winemaker decides the wine is close to finished, it’s time to Riddle! Riddling traditionally takes place in riddling racks; rectangular wooden boards hinged at the top, both sides with holes to hold the necks of bottles. The bottles are placed neck-down into the racks at a 45-degree angle. Every day for several weeks, the riddler rotates every single bottle a few degrees, gently shifting the lees closer to the neck of the bottle. At the end of the process, the bottles are slanted a 60-degree angle and are completely neck-down in their holes, and all the lees are collected in the neck.

Disgorgement

This process removes sediment from the bottle without wasting wine or compromising quality. After riddling, bottles are placed upside-down into a freezing solution for several minutes which causes the residual yeast particles to freeze. The crown caps are then popped off which allows the frozen plug of lees to shoot out. The minimal amount of wine lost in the process is replaced with a slightly sweet mixture of wine and sugar, or dosage, which balances the acidity in the wine.

Photo Credit: Wine Folly

Transfer Method

The transfer method is identical to the traditional method until the aging process is complete. After aging, the bottled wines are emptied into a large, pressurized tank and filtered immediately to separate the lees from the wine. This method sidesteps the costly and difficult riddling and disgorgement of the traditional method, yet the resulting wines still may have delicious autolytic flavors and textures.

Photo Credit: Wine Folly

Tank Method

Also known as the Charmat Method, the tank method tends to be the fastest and most affordable and uses (you guessed it) a stainless steel tank to turn a still base wine into a sparkling one, rather than a bottle. Finished wine is added together with liqueur de tirage, a sugar, wine, and yeast mixture, triggering a rapid fermentation within the pressure-resistant tank.

As the fermentation goes on, carbon dioxide released from the fermentation causes the tank to pressurize, and the resulting sparkling wine is filtered, dosed with a solution of sugar and wine, and bottled.

Wines made using the tank method are inherently fresher in character as they are not aged at all. Large-volume producers of sparkling wines around the world utilize this method as it allows for the quickest turnaround (approximately 10-12 days from base wine to bottle) of the three methods.

Time Posted: May 31, 2018 at 9:31 AM
Monica Bennion
 
March 14, 2018 | Monica Bennion

Amador County Wine...California's Second Gold Rush - Part 2

Wine_ArrowsIn our first installment of "Amador County Wine...California's Second Gold Rush", we took a stroll through the history of some of California's oldest vineyards, planted during the Gold Rush in the 1850's.  When mining became less profitable and surface gold was depleted, many miners abandoned their claims and went on to find greener pastures.  With this exodus from gold country, most vineyards were also abandoned and left unattended, some dying away and others going dormant.

It wasn't until the 1960's and 1970's when Amador County saw it's second "gold rush", this time in the form of the wine industry as a whole.  In addition to the vineyards, wineries began popping up throughout the Shenandoah Valley.

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
While not quite the tourist destination at that time, heck, even Napa Valley was still budding, winemakers in Amador County began producing world-class wines to sell commercially and to individuals.  Some of the first wineries in Amador County include Montevina (est. 1973) and Story Winery (est. 1973), both of which Scott worked at before and after his winemaking education.  Read more about Scott's History.  While wineries, such as Cooper, Dillian and Spinetta, didn't open until after the 1980's, these families have been growing grapes in Amador County for decades, thus firmly earning a place in the Amador County wine history books.

Amador County is home to the third oldest winery in the state!  The D’Agostini Winery was started in 1856 by Adam Uhlinger.  In 1911, the winery and its 125 acres of vineyards were purchased by Enrico D’Agostini, for whom the winery was named for.  In 1984, Armagan Champagne Cellars purchased the business and the Amador County vineyard and wine cellar were sold to the Sobon family in 1989.  The original wine cellar still exists today, and is now the Shenandoah Valley Museum.

Shenandoah_Museum

WHERE WE ARE TODAY 
Today, there are more than 40 active wineries that make up the Amador Vintners Association with faciliites throughout the Shenandoah and Fiddletown AVAs, along with a handful of others outside of those AVAs.  Many of these wineries are family owned and operated, and have been for generations. They always welcome you in with a smile and the desire to show off their home grown and hand crafted wines.  Visit the Amador Vintners Association website.

Amador_Wine_Map
 

Scattered throughout Amador County, you'll find a number of private tasting rooms featuring award-winning gold country wines.  Up and down Main Street of historic Downtown Sutter Creek, you'll find more than seven tasting rooms nestled among unique shops, fine and casual dining and top-notch lodging facilites.  Visit the Sutter Creek Business Association's website and Wine on 49.

WHAT WE HAVE TO OFFER
While Amador County is known for its tasty, award winning and historical Zinfandels, the rising and shining star in Amador’s vineyards is Barbera.  An Italian variety that hails from the Piedmont region of Italy, this grape variety is unknown to many in California and most of the United States; unless of course you’re a Scott Harvey fan, then you've already established your love affair with Barbera.  Amador County Barbera has become so popular, it even has it's own event!  Learn more here about the Barbera Festival.

SH_Barbera
 

Amador’s volcanic soil, made up primarily of sandy clay loam as a result of decomposed granite, is ideal for growing Zinfandel and Barbera, as well as Syrah, Tempranillo, Sangiovese and Petite Sirah, among other lesser-known red varietals.  While Amador County is not known for its white wines, you’d be surprised to know that it is home to some award winning Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier.

Just recently, the Sierra Foothills region made headlines when Wine Enthusiast contributing editor, Jim Gordon, wrote about his experience in "The New & Improved Sierra Foothills".  Mr. Gordon highlights some of the rustic charm mixed with relaxed luxury as well as some of the old vine gems scattered throughout Amador County and the Sierra Foothills; including a Cellar Selection rating on our Vineyard 1869 Zinfandel.

SierraZinfandel-700x461

RETHINKING CALIFORNIA WINE COUNTRY
Let's revisit our word association game.  This time when we say "California Wine Country", maybe you'll think of Amador County.  When we say "Award Winning California Wines", you can easily name a handful of Gold Medal winners from the Sierra Foothills.  When we say "Barbera", you think "YUM!".  As for "Old Vine Zinfandels", you, as a Scott Harvey fan, know first hand that these are must-haves for your collection!

When you're getting ready to plan a trip to “California’s Wine Country”, think Amador County.  In addition to the fantastic wines and wineries, you will also enjoy the rustic charm of historical towns such as Sutter Creek, Jackson and Plymouth.  Take in all that Amador County has to offer, including fine dining, shopping, gold mine excursions, art events and much more!

 

Visit Scott Harvey Wines

 

ANNUAL AMADOR COUNTY WINE EVENTS

BEHIND THE CELLAR DOOR
First Weekend in March

BHTCD

 

WILDFLOWERS & WINE
SUNDAY, APRIL 3rd 2016

LEARN MORE & BUY TICKETS HERE

Wildflowers_and_Wine

 

 

AMADOR FOUR FIRES
SATURDAY, MAY 7th 2016

LEARN MORE & BUY TICKETS HERE

Amador_Four_Fires

 

BARBERA FESTIVAL
SATURDAY, JUNE 11th 2016

LEARN MORE & BUY TICKETS HERE

newbarberafestivallogo

 

AMADOR COUNTY FAIR WINE TASTING EVENT
FRIDAY, JULY 29th 2016

Amador_County_Fair_Wine_Tasting
 
 

 

THE BIG CRUSH HARVEST FESTIVAL
OCTOBER 1st & 2nd 2016

amador-vintners-big-crush
 
 

 

SUTTER CREEK WINEFEST
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12th 2016

LEARN MORE HERE

Winefest
Time Posted: Mar 14, 2018 at 6:29 PM
Monica Bennion
 
March 10, 2018 | Monica Bennion

Amador County Wine...California's Second Gold Rush

California_Wine_MapLet’s play a little word association game.  I’ll give you a word or phrase; you tell me what first comes to mind:
 
(1)    California's Wine Country
(2)    Gold Medal Winning California Wines
(3)    Old Vine Zinfandels
(4)    Barbera
 
Now, let us give the conventional answers:
 
(1)    Napa Valley
(2)    Again…Napa Valley
(3)    Jammy fruit bombs that are high in alcohol
(4)    That’s not how you spell Barbara…and what does she have to do with wine? 

For those of us who live in California or are familiar with California wines, we know that good wines come from the upper North Coast all the way down to the Southern California border, and everywhere in between.

California is home to some of the best wines in the world, and is only surpassed in production (not necessarily quality) by Italy, France and Spain.  While Napa Valley may have solidified its claim to fame at The Judgement of Paris in 1973, there are a vast number of wine regions in California that have been producing award winning wines for decades; many still unknown or thought to be insignificant in the world of wine.

For those who enjoy Scott Harvey Wines, you already know better.  Some of the best wine in the world comes from the fifth smallest county (in terms of square miles) in California; Amador County.  Within the 600 square miles that makes up Amador County, about 4,000 acres (less than 1%) consists of wine grapes.  But the grapes grown within that 1% produce some of the best wines in California, if not the world.

Amador Wine Grape Map.png

 

The Making of California’s 2nd Gold Rush:In part one of our two part blog, we visit some of Amador's deeply rooted wine history, including our own little piece of history in the Vineyard 1869 as well as the new shining star, Barbera.


During the 1850’s, California was flooded with prospectors staking claims and digging for fortunes, mining for their pot of gold.  The biggest surge of miners passed through Northern California and the Sierra Foothills, home to vast veins of this precious metal.  While some succeeded in finding prosperity, most were fooled and left “holding the pan”.  But all of the mining, successful or not, made the “49ers” thirsty, thus resulting in the planting, cultivating and fermenting of grapes to make wine to quench their thirst and ease the hard days.

Gold_Miners
The Sierra Foothills nearly fell off the map, with regard to wine production, when gold mining ended with the 19th century and the initiation of Prohibition started in the 1920s.  The miners deserted their camps and vineyards were left to wither and die.  It wasn’t until the 1960s when new “prospectors” started the second “Gold Rush” of Amador…winemaking!


 IMG_1917

While numerous vineyards were planted in Amador County during the 1850’s, the oldest documented vineyard is one of our very own; the Vineyard 1869.  A land deed from an 1869 U.S. Geological Survey notes a fully established vineyard on the property that is home to our historical Old Vine Zinfandel grapes (as well as some Barbera).  LEARN MORE ABOUT VINEYARD 1869 HERE.

Today, of Amador’s nearly 4,000 acres of wine grapes, over 600 acres are over 60 years old, and several date back to the 19th century.  These older vines are often non-irrigated and must rely on their roots to dig deep for water.  These stressed grapes produce bold, complex and multi-faceted wines that you won't find anywhere else.  These wines are often produced in the Old World style with low alcohol and balanced pH, making them perfect to pair with food.

More recently, Amador County has unearthed another piece of California gold by cultivating Barbera vineyards.  Hailing from the Piedmont region of Italy, this variety was first planted in Amador County in the 1880s, but didn't really gain traction as a known variety until the late 1990s.  Barbera vines are adaptive to a variety of soils, but thrive in decomposed granite and volcanic soils, and enjoy a little heat during the summer days with cooler evenings.  This describes Amador County perfectly.  Originally used as a "blending" wine, Barbera is now taking Amador County, California and the nation by storm.  Barbera is a versatile, food friendly wine that goes well with Italian style meals, vegetarian meals and a variety of cheeses.  READ MORE HERE ABOUT AMADOR'S SHINING STAR

Let's revist our little word association game now.  I’ll give you a word or phrase; you tell me what first comes to mind:
 
(1)    California's Wine Country
(2)    Gold Medal Winning California Wines
(3)    Old Vine Zinfandels
(4)    Barbera
 
Here are your new answers:
 
(1)    Amador County, California
(2)    Again…Amador County
(3)    Complex, balanced and multi-faceted
(4)    Sure to be your new favorite wine!

Just how many grapes does it take to make up Amador's "liquid gold"?
Download our Free Vineyard to Bottle Sheet to find out!

Time Posted: Mar 10, 2018 at 6:26 PM
Monica Bennion
 
December 17, 2017 | Monica Bennion

Stress Free Holiday Shopping Gift Guide

ORDER BY DECEMBER 13th FOR CHRISTMAS DELIVERY

Click on any item in our catalog for quick and easy shopping!

 

Or Shop Direct on our Website

Time Posted: Dec 17, 2017 at 6:32 PM
Monica Bennion
 
November 15, 2017 | Monica Bennion

We Let the Dogs Our at Tickle My Belly Day

TMB Blog Image.jpg"Tickle My Belly Day" all started when our wine club manager, Monica, had one her famous "shower" ideas.  What's a "shower" idea you ask?  A great idea you have in the shower and hope you remember it by the time you get out!  Her thought..."We have a wine called Tickle Me Pink and dogs like to have their bellies tickled...how can we combine the two...and maybe benefit the animals?"  We don't even want to know what else goes on in her head, but we love her anyway.  Being that she is a big animal lover and advocate, as well as a wine lover, the idea for
"Tickle My Belly Day" was born, and boy did it take off!

 

 

With months of planning and teamwork, on October 28, 2017, it all came together.  The event, hosted by Scott Harvey Wines, the Amador County Animal Control Shelter, Goin' Postal and The Feed Barn in Jackson, featured a special wine tasting menu, including our Tickle Me Pink Rosé, hot dogs, chips and sodas, a photo station with props and the best volunteer photographer, April, swag bags with goodies for both people and pups, and a doggie (temporary) tattoo artist from Country Clippers in Lockeford, CA.  A portion of the proceeds from the sales of Tickle Me Pink benefited the Rusty Fund at the shelter.

20171028_115336.jpg

Seeing that the event day was so close to Halloween, we encouraged people and their pets to come in costume for a chance to win some great prizes...and they did not disappoint!  Jazz the Pitbull (1st Place in the Pet Costume Contest) came as a Chick Magnet.  Grommet dressed as The Cat in The Hat  (2nd Place) while his sister Annie was a Sweet Witch.  As for people in costumes, we had royalty, kitty cats, angels, and even couple dressed as a mermaid and merman (their dog Walter, was a shark).  They took 1st Place inthe People Costume Contest.

Costume Winners.jpg

The main focus of the day however, were the adoptable dogs that were on site from the Amador County Animal Control Shelter.  Volunteers from the shelter brought out Roxy, Ruby and Toby to show them off with the hopes of them finding forever homes.  We are very happy to announce that both Ruby and Toby have been adopted!  In addition to the adoptable dogs, ACART (Amador County Animal Rescue Team) was onsite to pass our information on how to keep your pets safe during natural disasters along with other resources for pet safety.

Toby Roxy Ruby.jpg

At the end of the day, it was so rewarding to see the results of our hard work and planning.  Everyone who attended had a great time tasting wine, enjoying food, having their pictures taken, going home with a bag full of goodies all while supporting the animals at the Amador County Animal Control Shelter.  A big THANK YOU to everyone who helped put this together as well as to all of those who attended.  We look forward to doing this again in 2018.

Visit our Facebook Page to see all of the pictures from the event.

 

RELATED POSTS
Tips & Tricks to Keep Pets Safe Over the Holidays

Time Posted: Nov 15, 2017 at 6:34 PM
Monica Bennion
 
November 14, 2017 | Monica Bennion

Tips & Tricks to Keep Pets Safe Over the Holidays

Corgis and Barrett with Santa.jpgWith the holidays rapidly approaching, we’re gearing up for all the fun and festivities of the season.  This includes decking the halls, baking up our favorite sweet treats, wrapping up gifts and having friends and family over.  If you’re a pet parent like me, your furry kids probably have their own stockings, get new toys and treats, and may even get their picture taken with Santa Paws.  Including pets at the holidays adds to the joy and spirit season.  Emergency vet visits, not so much.  Our list of Holiday Safety Tips for Pets will help keep them safe and comfortable this holiday season.

DECORATIONS & PLANTS

 Oh Tannenbaum, the Tree of Temptation

  • Whether your tree is real or artificial, securely anchor it so that it doesn’t tip over. Falling trees may cause injury to your pet.  It will also prevent you from having to completely redecorate the tree.  If you’re anything like me, I only want to do it once. 
  • If you do have a real tree, keep the water fresh and cover the stand so that pets are not encouraged to drink the water. Bacteria from stagnant water and fertilizers may cause intestinal distress.  No fun when you have guests over. 
  • Consider replacing your glass ornaments for plastic ornaments. Glass ornaments can break, and even the smallest shard can cause an external laceration, or worse, an internal laceration, if accidentally ingested.  Ornaments should also be big enough that your pet cannot fit them in their mouth if they do happen to get ahold of one (this is really more for cats).  At our home, we drape pine needle garland over the doorways and out of the reach of our pets, which allows us to display our treasured and breakable ornaments. 

Corgis and Christmas Tree.jpg

  • Twinkly tinsel and glittery garland can be the finishing touches on your beautiful tree, but these slivers of silver and gold are also dangerous pet magnets. If your pet ingests garland or tinsel, it may lead to an obstruction in the intestinal tract, and could possibly mean surgery, which could be one thousand times more expensive than that five dollar box of tinsel. 
  • Hide or cover the cords to the tree lights and other plugged-in decorations as best as possible. If pets have easy access to these and are prone to gnawing on stuff, the result can be electrocution.  That scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is not one you want in real life.  If you have a pet that is notorious for chewing, I would recommend looking into battery operated lights and decorations.

Cats Trees 1010.jpg

Pretty Plants & Glowing Accessories

  • Plants like holly, mistletoe and poinsettias are traditional decorative plants at the holidays. But these plants are highly toxic to pets when ingested.  If you simply love to display these plants, opt for high quality artificial plants.  Added perks include no watering and they are reusable.

Toxic_Christmas_Plants.jpg

  • Fragrant and decorative candles, while imparting a subtle glow and enchanting fragrance, can be dangerous if left unattended. Curious and rambunctious pets can burn themselves if they get too close or knock them over, which may lead to a fire.  When burning candles, make sure they are in appropriate containers, on a stable surface and extinguished when you leave the house or go to bed. 

FOOD & DRINK

Share Your Love, Not Your Food

It’s tempting to want to share your holiday food with your furry friend.  Those pitiful puppy dog eyes plead for just one bite of what’s on your plate.  But even if you’ve sworn off your diet for the holidays, don’t ruin theirs!  And don’t forget to remind your guests that in your zoo, “Please Don’t Feed the Animals”. 

  • Traditional holiday foods like ham, turkey and roast beef can be high in fat and salt which may cause intestinal discomfort. Bones from these foods can lead to obstructions in the airways or intestines and may lead to surgery or death.  Sweet treats like cookies, candies and chocolates are also a no-no for all pets.  Whether you’re baking the treats yourself or receive them as a gift, make sure they are out of reach of all pets and stored in secured containers.  Ingestion usually leads to gastrointestinal upset, but may also lead to death if consumed in large quantities. Toxic Holiday Foods.jpg
  • Other foods like potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, peas and carrots are all “pet-safe” foods. But when you add butter, milk, salt, pepper or other ingredients, these “pet-safe” foods are now on the naughty list.  If you want to share some holiday foods with your pet, I recommend that you set aside some of these vegetables in the raw* before you add other ingredients.  *SIDENOTE:   Raw potatoes are NOT safe for dogs!  Bake or boil them first.

Careful With the Cocktails

  • With the holiday spirit in the air, it’s likely that there will probably be some holiday spirit in your glass as well. Just like human foods, human beverages are not safe for pets.  Wine, beer and spirits, if consumed, can lead to weakness and respiratory failure.  If you want to give your pet a little something special to drink on New Year’s Eve, add a splash of low-sodium chicken broth to your pups’ water or a treat your kitty to a tablespoon of tuna water. 

WRAPPING PAPER, RIBBONS & BAGS

Neatly Wrapped & Tied With a Bow – Unless You Have a Cat

If your pets are like mine, they have this sixth sense about when you’re getting ready to wrap gifts.  Before I even pull out the paper, tape and scissors, they are hovering around the table stacked with gifts, ready for the fun to begin.  While it can be amusing and entertaining, even if slightly annoying, to watch your pets play with paper and ribbon, these items can easily and accidentally be ingested, which may lead to airway or intestinal obstructions.

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  • I have found that it’s best for me to secure the cats in the office or bedroom while I’m wrapping gifts. The protesting is usually loud, but I know it will be safer for them and faster for me in the long run.  The dogs seem to be fine with a firm command to lie down, but even then they get curious and try to offer assistance.  That’s when they get a treat in their crate and take a nap. 
  • If you plan to keep your gifts under the tree, you may want to avoid ribbons and bows altogether, since curious pets will surely find them, but you won’t. 
  • If you’re using bags or cellophane wrap, make sure that your pets cannot get their head in the bags or wrap. If left unsupervised, getting their head caught in a handle or bag may lead to strangulation or suffocation.

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VISITORS & LOUD NOISES

“Welcome to My House – Oh, I’m Sorry, That’s How I Say Hello”

The holiday season is the time of year when friends and family gather for dinners, parties and get-togethers.  If you’re planning on hosting parties or having friends and family stay with you, it’s best to get your pets prepared; and a sit down conversation isn’t going to work. 

  • If your pets are people friendly and love it when you have visitors, there are a few things you can do to help keep your pets and guests in good spirits. First, as you are anticipating guests, put your dog or cat in a safe place so that when you open the door, they are not tempted to run out.  By securing them away for a few minutes, this also allows your guests to get a little more comfortable without being “greeted” by the dog.  After your guests are settled, introduce your dog or cat.  If someone complains about the fur, just remind them…the pets live there, they don’t, and then offer up the lint roller.

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  • For pets that are a little more shy or don’t like visitors (like two of my five cats), it’s in their best interest to keep them behind closed doors in a room they are comfortable with. Just make sure they have food and water.  For cats, do not forget the litter box.  For dogs, they will either need to be taken out at some point during the party or have a way to get out to go potty.  I would highly recommend that you segregate the dogs from the cats.  Even if they normally get along, they may be anxious which can lead to fights.  Also, it’s really no fun finding out the dog helped you clean the cat box.

Cranking Up the Volume

  • In all of the excitement of the holiday season, sometimes the noise level can be taken to another level. If your party or gathering includes music, shenanigans, noisemakers or fireworks, the loud noises and quick movements may cause your pet to get nervous or scared.  If left alone or unsupervised, they may become destructive or run away.  If your dog is crate trained, you know that this is their “safe space” and a great place to let them rest during the party.  If your pup usually has free roam of the house, a small bedroom furthest away from the noise is the best place.  Just make sure to look for items they may destroy if anxious or nervous and remove them.

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  • You may also want to talk to your vet about medicines that can relieve anxiety and stress. They can offer both pharmaceutical and holistic options.  Be sure to give your pet a lot of extra attention after the noise has subsided and your guests have gone home. 

By keeping your pets safe over the holiday season and following our Holiday Pet Safety Tips, not only will you avoid a costly emergency vet visit (which usually means someone’s giving up a gift or two), you, your guests and your pets will all enjoy the fun and festivities and ring in the New Year with a smile.

Time Posted: Nov 14, 2017 at 6:35 PM

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