For many visitors, Santa Cruz County is as much about wine as it is about beaches. The Santa Cruz Mountains appellation, known for a cool climate that produces superior pinot noir, is one of the oldest in the state. More than 70 wineries and tasting rooms are sprinkled through the county’s hills and towns, and dogs are welcome at dozens of them.
The foothills outside Soquel are a good place to center a visit. At Hunter Hill, high above town, you’ll sip wine at a redwood bar while enjoying views overlooking the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. With Poetic Cellars, on 33 redwood-studded acres, comes a romantic theme supplemented by ocean views.
Near the coastal enclave of Aptos, Nicholson Vineyards is relaxed, dog-friendly and unusual in that the rustic tasting room is right in the middle of the vineyard. Alfaro Family Vineyards, in the Corralitos area, likewise has a super-relaxed vibe—plus it’s not far from Corralitos Market and Sausage Company, a regionally famous deli and great spot for lunch. While dogs (other than service dogs) are not allowed inside Corralitos Market, Aldridge Lane Park, just a short walk from the market, is a good spot for picnicking.
If approaching Santa Cruz from the north, pull off Highway 1 in Davenport and visit the Bonny Doon Vineyard Tasting Room. It’s a lovely venue just across the road from dog-friendly Davenport Beach. In Santa Cruz, Surf City Vintners, near the famous Beach Boardwalk amusement park, is a micro-winery collective with a number of dog-friendly tasting rooms in a trendy retail complex that also includes several patio restaurants that welcome their customers’ four-legged sidekicks. At MJA Vineyards, your wine-tasting experience ends with a taste of Kona coffee.
For more about wine-tasting opportunities in Santa Cruz County:
F&B For You And Your Pup
Santa Cruz County Wine Trail
Photo credit: Richard Masoner/Cyclelicious (CC)