About Us

Our philosophy at Sleeping Dog Wines is that dogs and wines share many similar properties.  When they are young, they are lively, colorful, sometimes out of control, and often times lots of fun.  As they get older, they tend to mature, develop character, and become more steady in their outlook and and reliability.  All along, it certainly helps to have a good nose! We tend to produce reds that taste pretty darn good with one or two years in the bottle, but benefit from laying down for several years.  Since many of our customers don’t have the space, or stable temperatures critical for storing their wines at home, we prefer to release these wines with five or more years of bottle aging, allowing you to appreciate them as they should be tasted.

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 overlook the Yakima River, where they reside under the ever  cautious eye of Jett, the Sleeping Dog (it may not seem that she sleeps, but she does have to rest to be ready to bark at all visitors), Syrah, the self-appointed winery cat, Bella, the plump guardian cat, and Jade, still searching for her position in life.

Larry & Joyce

It all seemed like a good idea at the time.  We moved to our current location in 1991, and after harvest in 1992 noticed that a fair number of grapes were still hanging on the vines.  A brief conversation with the grower ensued – “I’m finished.  If you want to pick some grapes have at it.”  After 10 years of figuring out what to do and what NOT to do, I caught Joyce in a weak moment and we got licensed and bonded, converted the “shed” into the winery, and started production at a whopping 300 cases a year! We never grew much larger than that, preferring to keep it an intimate operation, with much of the heavy lifting (Literally) shared with friends. The mix of grapes has changed some, and so has the mix of volunteers, but we remain true to the goal of having a good experience for ourselves and our visitors while doing the best job we can to produce wines that best present the nature of the grapes!

Throughout this journey, there has been a canine associate providing amusement, companionship, and oversight. We couldn’t come up with a better symbol that captures our dedication to creating wines that express the true characteristics of Buoy Vineyard grapes – hence our logo “The Nose Knows” ™.  Besides, we happen to like dogs and the name  seems to work! Our reds are generally crafted to reach their best expression after several years of aging – let those Sleeping Dogs lie!