On the eastside of Springdale, Arkansas, seven minutes from my front door, is a small vineyard tucked into 15 acres of rolling hills. It boasts an outdoor patio nestled against a creek, it’s shaded by towering trees, and…there is a large purple cow.
‘Sassy’ greets you at the patio entrance and pays homage to times past. Gene Long, one of the owners, spent some time chatting with me and Henri as we relaxed after our stroll. While I snacked on a Canadian white cheese, and Henri waited for chorizo to fall from my hand, he shared a bit of their story.
Sassafras Springs Vineyard was once a dairy farm. The tasting room, a converted milk barn, features glass windows in the floor to reveal the slush pit where waste fell during milking. The vineyard does not yet produce it’s own wine, but hopes to stomp it’s first grapes in 2016. For now, they have an excellent selection of premium wines and a ‘build-your-own’ board style menu featuring meats, cheeses, breads, and other sides.
Grab a board.
Start a tab.
I wasn’t quite ready for a snack. So, I picked out a good summer walking wine.
With a richly colored, dry rose in one hand, and Henri’s leash in the other, we headed out to explore.
The entire property is open container (they trusted me with glass), and since Henri was the only dog there that day, I let him off leash. One thing we know in Arkansas is that the best things are always found down dirt and/or gravel roads.
My best piece of travel advice: always take the unpaved road.
If you take this particular road, you’ll come to the ‘church ruins’. Standing steadfast and alone in an open field, it is a beautiful open-air replica of what an ancient weathered structure might resemble.
Content with his own explorations, Henri wasn’t nearly as impressed with the grass peaking through the flagstone, as he was the opportunity to pee on things.
He was interested in the sniffs, and guided solely by his nose to the low-cut field beyond the ruins. It’s easy to imagine cows casually grazing here. The peaceable dream was disrupted by the realization that some BUG SPRAY would have been nice. I later discovered that if you don’t have any, they do have some at the tasting room. Use it.
Henri was moving through the field in typical canine fashion: tail in the air, nose to the ground, the occasional leg hike. Then, he found the creek.
Normally, a plop in the water isn’t something to which I’m opposed. I’m a creek/river/lake girl, and water doesn’t have to be filtered for a swim. However, this tiny little body of water, on this particular day, was still enough for bugs to rest on the surface.
The murk and the summer stink clung to Henri’s legs and underbelly when he stood. He was most pleased with himself.
No longer presentable, and certainly not suitable as a dining companion, we headed back toward the tasting room. I inquired about a water hose. As luck would have it, there was one on the side of the building. After a quick rinse, Henri was passable for outdoor dinning.
I’m not sure if these people intentionally thought of everything, but wine, cheese, bug spray, water hose…they have thought of everything.
It’s a wine dog’s dream!