U.S. Attorney’s Office Reaches Settlement with Palisade Winery Over Access for Service Dog

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FILE PHOTO: American flag waves outside the U.S. Department of Justice Building in Washington

DENVER—The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado announced today that the United States has resolved a discrimination complaint under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with Hermosa Vineyards, a vineyard in Palisade, Colorado, to allow service dogs in its tasting room. 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office received a complaint that Hermosa Vineyards refused to permit a complainant’s service dog into its tasting room. The complainant claimed that a Hermosa Vineyards representative confronted the complainant and her boyfriend in the winery’s parking lot and refused to let them into the tasting room, even after they explained that the complainant’s dog was a service animal.

Under Title III of the ADA, businesses are required to permit service animals onto their premises.  Only dogs may be service animals under the ADA.  If it is not obvious whether a dog is a service animal, the business is permitted to ask two questions of the dog’s handler:

  1. Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

The business is not allowed, however, to request any documentation about the dog, require that the dog demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature of the person’s disability.  Service dogs are not required to wear vests or special clothing, and handlers are not required to have any particular documentation or certification for the dog.  A service dog must be under the control of its handler while on the premises of a business. 

To resolve the complaint, Hermosa Vineyards agreed to post notices that service dogs are permitted in its tasting rooms and onto areas of the winery’s grounds that are open to the general public.  Hermosa Vineyards also paid the complainant $5,000.

“Businesses must permit individuals with disabilities to bring service dogs into any area where other members of the public are allowed,” said U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan.  “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to protecting equal access for people with disabilities who need the aid of service dogs.” 

This case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Zeyen Wu.

A photograph of the service dog, provided by the complainant, is shown below.