Sleeping Dog Wines was founded by Larry "Alpha winemaker" Oates along with his wife and partner, Joyce "I'd rather be fishing" Oates in 2002. Their home and small winery overlooks the Yakima River, where they reside under the watchful care of Aurora, the Sleeping Dog, Bella, the plump guardian cat, and Syrah, the self-appointed winery cat.
Ever the opportunist, Larry began to practice the vintner's art in earnest. The fall of 1992, armed with bartered, borrowed, and cobbled together equipment, found Larry and brother Kevin with a procured half-ton of neighbor farmer Bob Buoy's select Merlot grapes. A handful of friends were called to join the fledgling vintners, and, reveling in their winemaking fantasies, they produced the first vintage of what would evolve into Sleeping Dog Wines.
Larry continued to hone his skills over the next decade. His 1999 Merlot/Malbec, a powerful, perfectly balanced blend, won several awards at the Benton County Fair and was properly declared "Best of Show." This absolute endorsement of Larry's talent joined succinctly with his distinctive vision and thus Sleeping Dog Wines was launched.
Our wines are produced entirely from grapes that are grown in the Buoy and Rivers Bend vineyards, directly across the road from the winery. Larry walks the vineyards at least twice every day, year round - Aurora sees to that! As harvest approaches, he is continually sampling the grapes to ensure that we pick at optimal flavors and from locations that showcase the individual grape variety for that year. Grapes are all picked by hand and delivered to the winery by forklift the same day, usually as they are harvested. Sleeping Dog Wines are produced in limited quantities (currently ~ 600 cases total production per year) so that we can maintain a close peronal involvement with all aspects of production. The entire process, from grape selection to sales, is overseen personally by Larry, Joyce, and Aurora and is only possible due to the support of our friends and customers.