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.
Tri-Valley’s pair of historic, large-production wineries, Concannon and Wente, both welcome dogs to their beautiful grounds and are obvious targets of attention. But the smaller players are worthy of attention, too. Take, for example, Chouinard Vineyards, situated at an elevation of 1,000 feet in Palomeras Canyon, not far from Livermore. The dog-friendly tasting room here is in a picturesque old barn, and although the summer concert season has passed, the wines, particularly the flagship zins and chenin blancs, are lovely to sip while admiring the surrounding vineyards in their fall finery.
Other DogTrekker favorites include El Sol, where dogs can join you on the patio; Fenestra, where you and yours can sip and nibble in a lovely picnic area; and Las Positas, where the dog-friendly picnic area boasts stellar vineyard views. Another fail-safe choice: Garré Winery and Café, whose Italian roots are reflected in the restaurant’s Mediterranean lunch menu and the bocce courts just outside. Take a seat on the expansive patio (dogs welcome, of course) and ask the server to pair your dishes with wines made from grapes grown right outside the door.