By Carmen Madrid
Sushi bars, electric cars, theme parks… and now, from the trend-setting West Coast: dog-friendly wineries. As a transplanted Californian who loves cabs and labs, this is one trend I hope will make its way across the country to New England. If you’re planning a California vacation with your own pups, you’ll definitely get four paws up if you add these dog-friendly Sonoma wineries to your must-see list.
Start your tour at Mutt Lynch Winery. Celebrating their 15th year in business, owners Christopher and Brenda Lynch (and rescue greyhound Patch) have received national recognition for their wines, which carry such clever names as Merlot Over and Play Dead or Unleashed Chardonnay. Wine writer Dan Berger says the Lynches’ 2007 Canis Major Petite Sirah is worth hunting for on the shelves of your favorite wine shop, since he predicts it will be “superb in a few years.” Visiting this dog-friendly winery is by appointment only, so call ahead. Or, schedule your California vacation to coincide with the monthly Yappy Hour or the annual Dog Days of Summer Open House in August, benefitting the San Francisco SPCA.
Another fido-friendly winery, Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards is a personal favorite, with its Spanish arches, red tile rooftops, antiques, and glorious views of the Carneros hills. It was there I ventured from my usual red-wine path to enjoy a Carneros sparkling wine that was as good as any I’ve tasted since (and which makes a great base for a traditional sangria!).
Also on Sonoma’s dog-friendly winery list is Buena Vista Carneros, a historic landmark. Walking under its mature trees to a picnic table was like strolling through a lovely park. If you stay right in the city of Sonoma, head out with your pooch for an early morning walk, and marvel as the vines play hide and seek in the famous San Francisco fog.
A native of Southern California, Carmen Madrid now writes from the woods of New Hampshire. An avid road-tripper around the U.S., she has chewed off a few fingernails driving abroad, in spots as varied as narrow mountain paths in Tobago and icy roads up to Spain’s walled city of Avila.