Blue Dog Wine Co. moves operation to Mound City
A former bank building and library, this building on Main Street in Mound City is becoming a tasting room and headquarters for Blue Dog Wine Co. Below, The Coyote sign came with the building. (Photos by Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)
Everything about “The Coyote” is inviting. The sectional sofas define conversation areas. The dining table lined with chairs sits in front of a horizontal fireplace, which is under a wide-screen television. In another corner of a room is an island bar with cabinets full of wine bottles.
The space at 509 Main Street in Mound City represents the next step in the progress Blue Dog Wine Co. has made since it opened for business in 2020. It also represents a shift in the company’s main business address from the northern part of Linn County to the county seat.
Sarah and Tracy Johnson began making wine on their rural La Cygne farm in 2019 and began selling to the public by April 2020.
Following the same model that many wineries use in countryside surrounding the Kansas City metro area, the couple opened up their farm for tastings. At the same time, they worked to get their wines into area liquor stores.
To help speed their growth along, the Johnsons applied for a permit to conduct wine tastings and sell wine at festivals around the area. For the last couple of years, they have promoted their wines every chance they got, including at the Sugar Mound Arts and Crafts Festival and the La Cygne Fiesta.
“People are really starting to know who we are,” Sarah Johnson said.
What started out as a side hustle began requiring more attention, and Sarah Johnson quit her teaching job with the Prairie View school district to focus on raising their children and growing the winery. Their sales volume has grown significantly and the demand for their wines now has their Blue Dog Wine label in more than 30 liquor stores from Pittsburg, Kan., north to the metro area and into Lawrence.
Looking for more opportunities to introduce potential customers to their wines, she said the couple began to look for a place to host tastings, sell wine and offer entertainment. Then they found The Coyote, a space on the main drag of Mound City that had been remodeled for use as a short-term Airbnb rental. It even came with it's own name.
She said she immediately knew it was perfect for use as a tasting room. Even better, it was ready for their business without too much work.
The building, with a metal cutout of a howling coyote above the door, was the former Union State Bank, which was then used as the Mound City Library before the library moved to its new location at 630 Main St.
The open space in The Coyote lends itself to a host of uses and events.
In addition to making the remodeled space into a tasting and entertainment room, the couple decided to take another step, making the Mound City storefront into their main facility with their farm now a satellite outlet.
Johnson said they plan to move winemaking equipment equipment into the back room to start producing wine in Mound City.
As the Kansas City Chiefs entered the playoff rounds, The Coyote became a gathering place to watch the game on weekends and drink some wine. The establishment also serves beer and mixed drinks for those who prefer.
The Johnsons are also expecting to soon be approved for a food license so they can prepare food to serve along with the wine and drinks. She said that will allow The Coyote to serve charcuterie boards full of snacks.
The Coyote’s normal hours are Saturdays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m.
Johnson said they also plan to host special events at The Coyote. In February, that includes a Super Bowl watch party beginning at noon on Feb. 12, Valentine’s Day pickup from noon to 6 p.m. on Feb. 14, and a couple sessions of Sip and Paint with Daisy Rae’s on Feb. 26.
She also said that with the arrival of spring, The Coyote would host other special events. She also said that people could arrange for private events as long as they didn’t conflict with the business’ regular hours.