Warm, Welcoming Sonoma County

Sonoma County is a dog and wine lover’s paradise. Not only does it boast more than 55 miles of rugged Pacific Ocean coastline, giant redwoods, statuesque mountains, winding rivers, and fertile valleys, it is home to more than 400 wineries, more than half of which are dog friendly.

Published: 6/15/2015

What is it about dogs and wine tasting that go so beautifully together? Each time we pull into a winery parking lot where a wide-eyed pooch lies patiently by the tasting room door, we feel genuinely welcome. As we get out of the car, our canine host either rises slowly to greet us with a cool, wet nose or rolls over on his back with a thumping tail as he waits for us to bend down and give him a pat.

Less than 45 minutes north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, rustic and fertile Sonoma County is a dog and wine lover’s paradise. Not only does it boast more than 55 miles of rugged Pacific Ocean coastline, giant redwoods, statuesque mountains, winding rivers, and fertile valleys, it is home to more than 400 wineries, more than half of which are dog friendly.

Doggie Guests
Located in the heart of Sonoma’s Bartholomew Memorial Park, Bartholomew Park Winery provides guests easy access to three miles of marked, dog-friendly hiking trails. Kunde Family Estate’s hiking program includes a series of dog hikes where fourth generation Winegrower Jeff Kunde and his dogs lead dogs and their human companions along the Sonoma Valley floor. A portion of the dog hike fee goes to the Sonoma County Humane Society.

In Windsor, Mutt Lynch Winery lives by its motto, “Apply dog logic to life: eat well, be loved, get petted, sleep a lot, dream of a leash-free world” with dog-awesome labels and special Yappy Hours in its Tasting Room on the Green. The winery also supports more than 50 nonprofit animal organizations and a portion of every Mutt Lynch wine is donated to support local animal rescue organizations.

Sonoma’s dog-friendly wineries cater to canine guests in lots of ways like water bowls, dog treats, picnic grounds, and walking trails. St. Francis Winery & Vineyards even hosts an animal blessing each October. One Sonoma County resident, Jazz, owned by Destination Races Founder Matt Dockstader, may hold the record for lifetime winery visits by a dog.

Doggie Hosts
Winery dogs have some of the best jobs in the world. In the tasting room, they graciously assume the role of greeter, office manager, and director of cheer. In the winery, they lie quietly in their favorite spot among the barrels; while in the vineyard, they ride on the back of the truck, investigate the vines, and chase after unwanted pests.

Some winery dogs come from other fields, like Ziggy, Sojourn Cellars’ Fox Red Labrador, who was trained as a puppy to sniff out trichloroanisole (TCA), the chemical substance in wine responsible for cork taint. Now 10 years old, Ziggy is content to guard the winery office and remind the delivery person that it’s time for another treat. Others are dedicated to a lifetime of learning. Arrowood Vineyard & Winery’s Jake, a Shih Tzu owned by Winemaker Kristina Werner, loves people and sampling gourmet treats to strengthen his firstclass palate. And perhaps Dutcher Crossing Winery’s Golden Lab, Dutchess, has mastered English after arriving in Sonoma County from Taiwan seven years ago.

Wherever you tour in Sonoma County, you’re sure to find warm, welcoming dogs and dog lovers. Just make sure to stop at Santa Rosa’s California Welcome Center in Railroad Square to see a bronze statue of Snoopy, the beloved Peanuts character created by cartoonist Charles Schulz, alongside his forever best friend.


As seen in the issue Summer/Fall 2015 of Touring & Tasting Magazine.

DOG-FRIENDLY TASTING ROOMS

Anaba Wines
B.R. Cohn Winery
Foppiano Vineyards
Lancaster Estate
Larson Family Winery
Moshin Vineyards
Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery
Stryker Sonoma Winery
Tara Bella
Trione Family Vineyards
White Oak Vineyards & Winery