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.
Among them is Cuvaison, which welcomes leashed pets in its two tasting rooms and rewards the eyes with undulating waves of vineyards that will be wearing their autumn best come late September and early October. Starmont, sister winery to St. Helena’s Merryvale Vineyards, is a newcomer on the Carneros scene and welcomes DogTrekkers both in its tasting barn and a handsome, open-air courtyard with a fire pit and killer views of the Stanly Ranch Estate Vineyard.
Carneros Brewing Company, a family-owned microbrewery founded by four brothers and their families, features a dog-friendly beer garden. Another great choice: Cline Cellars, a historic estate with expansive rose garden, lawns, ponds and vineyard views as well as highly regarded wines.
If you just have time for one stop, consider making it Cornerstone Sonoma, a one-of-a-kind marketplace complex with three wine-tasting rooms, a distillery tasting room, beguiling home-décor shops, a nursery, the dog-friendly Park 121 Café & Grill and nine ever-changing Cornerstone Gardens. Sunset magazine’s outdoor kitchen and test gardens are here, too. There’s inspiration at every turn—and lots for your dog to enjoy, too.
Photo Credit: @bananabatpig