Strollin' through Retzlaff Vineyards. Photo Credit: @thatwinetastingchick
A laid-back atmosphere and dog-friendly vibe prevail at many Tri-Valley wineries where you can both make yourselves at home. Most establishments are located in the picturesque Livermore Valley, one of the country’s oldest winemaking regions. Wine-grape cultivation started here in the 1840s, and today, more than 50 wineries, 23 of them proudly dog-friendly, share an AVA whose terroir is characterized by warm days, cool nights and gravel-based soils. You can check out DogTrekker’s dog-friendly Tri-Valley wine trail before heading out.
While the Livermore Valley shares a landscape very similar to the Napa Valley just over the hills, both tasting fees and attitudes are for the most part more relaxed. Most Livermore wineries are boutique operations whose products get little distribution outside the tasting room. A sense of discovery prevails at establishments like 3 Steves, a canine-accommodating establishment named for three friends named Steve who started their winery in 2010 and earned “best red of show” in the prestigious 2014 San Francisco Wine Competition. At El Sol, you and your pup can relax at an umbrella table outside the tasting room and stretch your legs in the fields beyond, while Retzlaff welcomes dogs in an expansive and very shady picnic area. At Eagle Ridge, Longevity, Bent Creek and many others, your dog is welcome in the tasting room as well as the picnic areas.
Two historic, large-production Livermore wineries also welcome dogs with people on the other end of the leash. Concannon is a big name in these parts, but DogTrekkers are greeted with hospitality, not swagger. The home of America’s first Irish vintner has lovely picnic grounds where you’re welcome to while away an afternoon with your dog. Pick up some small plates of delicious chow at the next-door Underdog Wine Bar and enjoy a memorable repast.
The other major player in Livermore is Wente, which has two tasting rooms about two miles apart. Dogs are welcome on the patio and in the picnic grounds, but not inside the “tasting in the round” tasting room at Wente Estate Vineyards on Tesla Road (yes, that Tesla).
Many Livermore wineries open their tasting rooms only on weekends, so be sure to check before loading directions into your GPS. Find a complete list of dog-friendly Tri-Valley wineries here.
Photo Credit: @thatwinetastingchick