Think “Santa Cruz County,” and you may not be able to distance yourself from its sand-and-surf image. But the county is in fact large and diverse, encompassing inland redwood forests, dozens of mountain wineries and almost as many microclimates where you and your canine companion can sip and chill (wine for you, water for your pup!).
The Santa Cruz Mountains appellation is one of the oldest in the state, and both the Santa Cruz County Wine Trail, which runs between Davenport and Watsonville (it’s a collection of wineries, not really a “trail” as such); and the Corralitos Wine Trail, at the southern end of the region, provide lots of tasting options, particularly pinot noirs and chardonnays, that thrive in the fog-kissed climate.
The dozen or so dog-friendly wineries between Davenport and Watsonville are tucked along windy mountain roads. You’ll have to go slow, but there’s lots of scenery to enjoy along the way. Get your bearings at Bargetto Winery in Soquel; it’s the oldest winery in the county, founded in 1933 and still operated by the same family.
In the Corralitos region, Alfaro Family Vineyards is a great dog-friendly place for paws to pause; it’s at the southern end of the wine region and just minutes from Nicholson Vineyards, which also welcomes leashed dogs on its property.