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California’s Wine Country

California’s wonderful year-round weather is as good for the wine we produce as it is for those who live and visit here. Abundant sunshine assures a long grape-growing season and world-class wines and over 600 vineyards that DogTrekkers and their four-legged companions find irresistible. For detailed information about the area you're interested in visiting this fall, click your destination on the map below.

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Wine Stories

Napa Valley isn’t all about food and wine; it’s also a magnet for artists and art lovers from around the world. Combining a dog walk with a little art appreciation is a great way to spend a day—and get some unique backdrops for your photos while you’re at it. Start with the 2017-2019 Napa Art Walk, called “Shifting Perspectives,” featuring 10 sculptures by artists from four Western states installed in downtown locations.
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When it comes to dog-friendly lodging in Napa Valley, there are almost as many choices as there are wineries to visit. Start your search by sorting out your parameters regarding type, location, level of luxury, price, etc., then delve into the dog-friendly listings on DogTrekker.com.
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Lodging choices in Napa Valley run from extravagant, five-star resorts to budget motels, but for that certain brand of DogTrekker who prefers to rough it a bit, there’s another alternative: camping. Whether sleeping in a tent, an RV or a rustic shelter, you’ll enjoy the valley from a unique perspective—and have money left over for a splurge. Here are three places to check out.
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Potential visitors to Napa Valley tend to think first of vine-covered hills dotted with wineries, wineries and more wineries. They’re all here, of course. But it would be a shame to bypass the city of Napa itself. A renaissance over the past two decades has transformed what once was the utilitarian center of wine country into a visitor destination packed with pizzazz. Downtown Napa is walkable, dog-friendly and filled with surprises for two- and four-legged visitors alike.
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After a rough fire season that took out homes, businesses and lives, Mendocino County is bouncing back with a full helping of winter events and holiday cheer. The gorgeous seashore offers uncrowded respite in winter, while towering redwoods invite contemplation and dog-friendly wineries welcome visitors with treats for the pups and tastes for their people.
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While parts of Sonoma County were ravished by the October wildfires, residents are banding together to stand strong and welcome visitors to the vast majority of the county that was untouched by the blazes. Whether you come to spend a winter weekend in Santa Rosa or explore the Wine Road Northern Sonoma County, you and your four-legged travel companion will find a warm welcome almost everywhere you go. But before your dog can settle down in a tasting room or hotel, she likely needs some exercise.
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Napa Valley is amazingly dog-friendly, with scores of wineries and restaurants welcoming four-legged visitors accompanied by humans. When it comes to hiking, head to Moore Creek Park, on the north side of Lake Hennessy near St. Helena. Among 15 miles of trails here is the serene, 5.6-mile Shoreline Trail/Alta Hennessey Loop, which traces the perimeter of this fresh-water reservoir with a jaunt into the hills along a dirt road.
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On Nov. 21, more than 500 people gathered in a Domaine Chandon vineyard near the border of Napa and Sonoma counties to enjoy an open-air feast at a very long table and raise funds for wildfire relief. Fire responders, chefs, winemakers, tourism officials and many others gave time, energy and money to help those impacted by the October blazes. Visit California and Outstanding in the Field—along with host Tyler Florence and destination partners Visit Napa ValleySonoma County Tourism and Visit Mendocino County—were beneficiaries of the event, called The Grateful Table.
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California’s desert regions are at their most compelling in winter, when cool weather and clear skies combine to energize people and pets alike. If you’re planning a trip, don’t think only of cactus and rock. Southern California’s high-desert wine country invites visitors with vines, wines and a swaggering touch of the Old West. It’s all centered around the town of Temecula, 60 miles north of San Diego, 80 miles east of Greater Palm Springs and 90 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
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If you don’t live in Santa Cruz County, you probably know this gorgeous stretch of the California coast for its beaches, its stellar university and the namesake town that proudly embraces its somewhat eccentric reputation. But Santa Cruz County is also known for its mountains, its redwood forests and its wines, particularly the pinot noir and chardonnay that thrive in the fog-kissed climate. Wineries and tasting rooms are sprinkled throughout the county, and dogs get a warm welcome at many of them.
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Mendocino County is mostly rural, and its extensive patchwork of public lands encompasses everything from national forests and state parks to dog-friendly preserves administered by the Bureau of Land Management. If you and your well behaved, always-comes-when-called pup prefer to wander together without being tied by a leash, head to Stornetta Public Lands, a 1,665-acre coastal haven near Point Arena, where you’ll also want to check out one of the West Coast’s most iconic lighthouses.
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Lake County is dominated by – you got it – one of the largest bodies of water in the state. But Clear Lake, a popular vacation destination, is just one piece of a diverse county that is coming on strong as a fast-growing wine region with laid-back (and dog-friendly) appeal.

The Lake County wine-growing region blanketing the eastern portion of the county is further divided into seven AVAs (American Viticultural Areas), or appellations, each with its own sense of place. While best known for its sauvignon blancs, petite sirahs and big reds like tempranillo and cabernet sauvignon are gaining well deserved cachet.
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Wine grapes were introduced to the Sierra Nevada foothills during the Gold Rush years, when miners were thirsty for refreshment and farmers eager to provide. Today, the Sierra Foothills AVA (American Viticultural Area) stretches from Yuba County in the north to Mariposa County in the south, with five smaller AVAs under the umbrella designation. Two of them, El Dorado and Fair Play, are in El Dorado County, within easy striking distance of Sacramento, gateway to the Gold Country wine country.
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The Tri-Valley region, an hour east of San Francisco, is nothing if not full of surprises, especially when it comes to wine. Production is centered in the rolling Livermore Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area), where the first grapes were planted in the 1840s. More than 50 wineries, two dozen of them proudly dog-friendly, have since sprung from the rich soil, and they’re all close enough for a day trip or overnight trip from the Bay Area or Sacramento. So leash up your pup, crack a window and take off into the so-close-but-so-far-away countryside.
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Winery rich Mendocino County is home to 10 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), a half-dozen of which are smaller regions lumped together under the over-arching Mendocino County label. While there are many dog-friendly tasting rooms scattered about, it makes sense for newbies to follow one of two designated “wine roads,” one tracing Highway 128 through the famed Anderson Valley, the other centered around the Hopland area on Highway 101.
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What part of the Napa and Sonoma valleys is closest to the Bay Area and Sacramento? The answer: Carneros, a wine-growing region and AVA (American Viticultural Area) that spans parts of Sonoma and Napa counties and backs up to San Pablo Bay. The marine influence makes Carneros (which means “sheep” in Spanish) a bit cooler than regions up-valley, with a microclimate ideal for cultivation of grapes used in sparkling wine production. Dog-friendly tasting rooms abound, and while we haven’t visited them all, we have some favorites.
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Whether you drive all or just some of the 102 intoxicating miles of Highway 1 hugging the Mendocino County shore, you’re sure to find many places to pull over and get some sand between Bella’s toes. Take it at a snail’s pace, but be sure to check out these highlights.
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Last fall’s fires, combined with harsh winter storms, were not kind to the popular state parks along Highway 1 in the Big Sur region. Much of this scenic slice of coastline remains inaccessible due to unstable hillsides and destruction of the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge (about half a mile south of Big Sur Station), which has been demolished and is being rebuilt. It won’t reopen until fall at the earliest, meaning camping opportunities this summer are heavily curtailed.
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Mendocino County’s 47 wineries produce many reds, of course, but crisp viogniers and other whites are also specialties of the region. If visiting in winter, when inclement weather is a possibility, you might want to do a little homework in advance to select establishments that welcome dogs in their tasting rooms as well as in their outdoor picnic areas.
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While most Mendocino County restaurants with outdoor dining venues allow dogs to curl up under the table with their owners, winter weather can throw that option a curve ball. In inclement weather when patios aren’t open, your pup can always wait in the car while you dine. Or—if you know in advance—you can take an unconventional route to an indoor venue.
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