by Ben Schooley
Kristin and Joey Boatright, partial owners of Dog and Pony, have a serious passion for wine. While it might not be the first place one thinks of for “really good wines”, but the Boatrights are working to change that perception. Featuring “clean” wines (without additives), the wines are high quality, affordable, and are a great introduction into the world of wine.
Joey begins, “It’s not really a kind of wine, it’s a culture of wine. Grapes and yeast and that’s it. So for the wine world, it’s not categorized specifically. We get excited with natural and low intervention wines, which is getting the flavors of the grape and the region and what the wine maker wants the expression to be.” Kristin adds, “There wasn’t a big wine offering to begin with at Dog and Pony and we’ve gotten into the low intervention wines – more natural, less human intervention, less additives, much healthier than the conventional wines.”
As the duo began to look at how to expand their offerings, they first had to find the wine they sought. Joey continues, “It’s been finding the right distributors to start. Some of the natural wine makers, they don’t want to work with the huge distributors, they want to work with people with similar passions. We knew we aren’t the average wine place, but we found distributors that helped us by knowing what we wanted and helped us source it. It’s allocated specifically, and we’ve been so excited with how it’s gone. What’s available was another question we had to ask? Some places only get a certain allotment of wines, and so we’ve had to find out what is available to us. Some white blends, some roses, some petnat, which is a natural champagne…those were our first additions. Kristin enjoys that the most. Some of them become sought after and people don’t realize that.”
As for the response? Kristin explains, “The response has involved a lot of education. We’re probably giving away more than we’re selling as we just educate people. The response has been great overall…this whole concept is sort of like craft beer was 25 years ago. People are reluctant to try new things, and we’ve enjoyed getting people out of their comfort zone. We’re trying to get people to try new things and learn about the full spectrum of wines. Wine makers that enjoy being sustainable and we appreciate that. The response has been overall positive, despite some unsure people. Even in Texas, they have a petnat now. There’s a winery out of Fredericksburg that is doing all natural wines, and sometimes we here in Texas can be a little behind on things. But right now, it’s a major thing and it’s exciting with the low intervention wines.”
Joey explains how they’re working to get the message out to customers. “The menu has been adjusted to include all of these newer wines, and events that introduce people to these new options. We have a yoga event that we’re doing with a special wine to follow. We have a paint and sip event that ends with a great wine tasting of our new wines. Just sharing things with people when they come in has been huge.”
Kristen adds to the reluctance of some people: “I’d like to see more people branching out and trying these wines. There’s a mentality that the low and natural wines must somehow not be “good” compared to the wines that they’re used to. I really want to teach people that there are things out there that are good, healthy, and honestly, even better for them. We know that people don’t think about Dog and Pony for wine, but we’d like to change that mentality so that they’ll come enjoy a bottle on the patio during a warm day while their kids are playing.”
The couple’s passion for the clean wines is evident in not only their offerings, but simply how they speak to it. Joey finishes, “We have one particular wine called 0/0 which means they literally added nothing to it – grapes and yeast. That’s it. Even the yeast is grown in labs for some of these wines so they can regulate the flavor. With natural wines, the flavor is going to be specific to where the yeast comes from. It’s like beer or whiskey or anything else where people focus on how it’s made. Are the ingredients local? Was it made local and clean? Or did someone just ship in the ingredients and then put TEXAS on the label for marketing. It’s cool to enjoy a wine that was made locally, with local yeast and ingredients, is clean, and you can taste that region throughout the flavor. It makes the entire experience that much more enjoyable. Come give us a shot – you might be surprised!”