Just 15 miles south of downtown Sacramento, the scenic Sacramento River Delta opens up, city life slows to a crawl and the Clarksburg American Viticultural Area offers all kind of dog-friendly, small-batch wine-tasting experiences, along with a few good places to eat. If you’re not from Sacramento, it’s probably all new to you, so take a leisurely drive of discovery and find out more.
Quickest access to the region is via Exit 510, Cosumnes River Blvd., off of Interstate 5. Make a right, then a left on River Road (Highway 160) On this side of the river you’ll find several dog-friendly venues. Freeport Wine Country Inn, a B&B and bistro, has outdoor seating on weekends into fall, while just down the road, Freeport Bar & Grill has a dog-friendly patio out back.
Keep going about three miles and you’ll come to a real gem: Scribner Bend Vineyards, with attractive dog-friendly seating on a back patio and in a tent. The coup de grase is an on-site pizza kitchen, Paisanos Courtyard Kitchen, serving yummy pizza, salads and appetizers on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 to 4. Scribner’s wines are excellent, the service spot-on and there’s sometimes live music or other special events. Call ahead to make a reservation; it’s very popular weekend destination.
On the other side of the river, there’s much more to discover. Either backtrack or start at the Freeport Bridge (near the Bar & Grill), crossing the river and turning left on South River Road. You’ll come first to Miner’s Leap Winery, which boasts the most beautifully landscaped grounds of any Delta winery. Dogs are more than welcome, and there’s often live music on weekends. No food service, but you can bring your own picnic and there’s usually a food truck on the premises. Open Friday-Sunday for tasting; reservations required.
Keep going, and you’ll come to the landmark Old Sugar Mill, a converted beet factory that kicked off the Clarksburg winery boom in 2003. It now houses some 14 tasting rooms and hosts many events on the back lawn (Tower of Power played a big concert there in August), along with outdoor tastings. Dogs welcome except during special events, and there’s usually a food truck on the premises.
Hungry? Make a pit stop at Husicks Taphouse, a converted hardware store, for yummy barbecue, craft beer on tap and wine tasting.
Keep going, look for Clarksburg Road and follow it quite a ways to Julietta Winery, open daily with dog-friendly seating on the patio and lawn. Again, be sure to reserve in advance.