Winemaking in Placer County dates back to the Gold Rush, when French ‘49er Claude Chana made his fortune growing fruit, including wine grapes. The contemporary wine industry, while young, is gaining steam and recognition, turning out wines that impressed the judges at the 2014 California State Fair and rolling out the welcome mat for visitors with two legs and four. Most of the 20 wineries and tasting rooms on the Placer County Wine Trail are situated north of Interstate 80 near Auburn and Loomis. Almost all welcome tail-waggers, so pick a region to explore and let serendipity be your guide.
A good place to start in Auburn is at Vina Castellano, whose Abuelito Red, a Spanish blend, won double gold at the fair, and whose facilities are some of the most extensive and dog-friendly in the region. Let the tasting-bar manager (who may be a member of the winemaking Mendez family) walk you through a flight of Spanish and Rhone wines while spinning a bit of family history.
Afterward, repair with a glass to the stone-walled patio or, in warm weather, to the Island Bar by the estate’s small lake, where you can also enjoy a glass of sangria. Picnic blankets, bocce and croquet sets can be borrowed, adding fun to your afternoon. Look for a Groupon offer to enjoy half off a tasting that includes seven varietals and a tapas platter loaded with Spanish meats and cheeses, tapenades, Marcona almonds, family-recipe herbed olives, and more. Jazz is sure to be jealous, so be sure to bring some treats or dog food for an early dinner!
In Loomis, the Le Casque tasting room is a new addition to the Flower Farm, a long-established nursery, café, bed-and-breakfast inn and events center that has long been regarded as a destination in itself. The small-production winery specializes in Rhone and Bordeaux-style wines crafted from fruit sourced in Placer and other foothill counties. After tasting, hop over to the farm stand and bag up some fresh fruits and veggies.
Other dog-friendly wineries in Placer County include Bear River, Bonitata, Cante Ao Vinho, Ciotti, Davis Dean, Dono Dal Cielo, Fawnridge, Green Family Winery and Lone Buffalo. For lodging suggestions, visit our Placer County and Sacramento pages.