Capitol Park, Sacramento. Photo: Loco Steve (CC)
With more than 200 hundred wineries situated within a 75-mile radius of the state Capitol, Sacramento can lay claim to being a “farm-to-glass” capital as well as a capital of farm-to-fork cuisine. If you’re exploring downtown area, pop over to Downtown & Vine, settle into a dog-friendly patio table and get familiar with some regional labels. This combination wine bar/restaurant focuses on produce from 12 wineries in four nearby wine-growing regions, available by the glass or flight. Its inventory includes many other California labels, a selection of international wines and on-tap beers from a dozen craft breweries. Order a locally sourced cheese and charcuterie platter or a savory flatbread to accompany your selection, and you’ll come away with new appreciation for what the Sacramento region produces.
The capital city’s two urban wineries, Revolution Wines and Cabana Winery & Bistro, also offer dog-friendly seating, delicious chow and small-production wines, produced on site, that you won’t find anywhere else. Revolution’s outdoor seating area fills up fast on weekends, so get there early to snag a table with your best friend and enjoy tasty small plates or larger entrees matched to your wine selection. At Cabana, eight varietals and blends are showcased, along with a light menu featuring tapas, salads, panini and quiche. More than 50 additional wines are on the menu, and your server will be as quick to bring a water bowl for your dog as a menu for her people.
You don’t have to go far to be engulfed in the rural landscapes surrounding Sacramento. Plan a leisurely weekend afternoon for a trip south of town on Highway 160, the “River Road,” to the Clarksburg wine region along the Sacramento River. It’s expanding like a super-nova these days, with a new boutique winery opening up every other month, it seems.
Our four-paw favorite is Miner’s Leap, open weekends for tastings in a beautifully landscaped, multi-level lawn and patio area outside a century-old barn. Pack a picnic or some snacks, sample the offerings (we’re partial to the Albarino) and choose a bottle to enjoy in a shady spot just over the levee from the river.
In the town of Clarksburg, the Old Sugar Mill is a rewarding destination rain or shine. The massive, red-brick building is a former sugar-beet processing facility that was moved piece by piece from Utah in 1935 and reconstructed on site. Beautifully restored, it now houses 10 wineries and a custom-crush facility, all under one roof. The mill gets busy on weekends, when tasting rooms are jammin’ and special events are staged often. Dogs are welcome on leash or in carry bags. Bring snacks for yourself and water for Fido, and the two of you can settle in at a courtyard table enjoy one of the more unusual wine-tasting experiences in the region.