They used to call it Steinbeck Wine Country, and the views celebrated in "East of Eden" are just as bucolic as in the famous author's time. Nowadays, 12 wineries hugging the hills above Steinbeck's old haunts in the Salinas Valley market themselves as the River Road Wine Trail, and word about their great wines and unpretentious tasting rooms is getting out. Travelers who explore these hidden gems along the River Road/Foothill Road corridor in Monterey County will find their four-legged companions welcome just abut everywhere, so don't even hesitate about bringing Spot.
One place where pooches are especially welcome is Paraiso Vineyards, an artisan operation in the Santa Lucia Highlands whose elegant tasting room opens onto a deck overlooking the bountiful valley below. Dogs are welcome inside and out, and members of the winemaking Smith family are happy to explain their sustainable farming methods. The family also includes three four-legged members who love to greet visitors: Meet Aero the golden retriever, Irie the border collie and Bleeker, a golden doodle who's been lounging in the tasting room since his arrival two year ago.