Tips For Enjoying Wine Country With Your Dog

Planning a trip to California’s wine country and hoping to bring your dog? There’s so much you can do together! And with these tips, you can be sure you’ll both enjoy your vacation.

Woman drinks wine with a dog lying at her feet
Photo credit: Paroma Chakravarty

California is the premier producer of New World wines and has a climate perfect for growing these bountiful grapes. From the Anderson Valley in the north to Santa Barbara in the south, it’s a wine lover’s paradise. And exploring the wine country with your dog makes it even more special!

More importantly for dog lovers, the wine country is extremely dog-friendly. So there’s no reason to leave your pooch behind while you have all the fun!

In this article, I share what we learned while traveling to the cities of Sebastopol and Calistoga, where we had tons of fun exploring, eating, and wine tasting.

Tips for Enjoying California Wine Country with Your Dog |  GoPetFriendly.com
Photo credit: Paroma Chakravarty
Tips for Enjoying California Wine Country with Your Dog |  GoPetFriendly.com
Photo credit: Paroma Chakravarty

Wine country is big – where to put your dog?

The most famous places in wine country are undoubtedly Napa Valley and Sonoma County. Both are a reasonable drive from San Francisco and for many popular weekend getaways.

Unfortunately, Napa and Sonoma can get crowded year-round. This places high demands on rooms – especially dog-friendly ones. So if you’re planning on staying in Napa or Sonoma, be sure to do some pet-friendly research beforehand!

Perhaps a better option would be to explore some of the less famous towns in the wine country. If you and your dog prefer a more relaxed pace, more personal attention, and relief from traffic, this could be a great solution for you.

Pet-friendly cities like Calistoga and Sebastopol in Sonoma County are great choices!

Tip #1: For a more budget-friendly trip and to avoid overloading the more well-known areas of wine country, choose a location off the beaten track.

Exploring pet-friendly Calistoga

A sleepy little town in the northernmost part of Napa Valley, Calistoga is best known for its spas. What may surprise you are the many things that can entertain both dog and human!

Our vacation began the moment we arrived at the huge dog-friendly terrace at Solbar, the restaurant at the stylish Solage Resort.

Tips for Enjoying California Wine Country with Your Dog |  GoPetFriendly.com
Photo credit: Paroma Chakravarty

After a delicious lunch we were recharged and ready to explore the area. If you only have time for one attraction in Calistoga, don’t miss the Little Old Faithful geyser on Tubbs Lane.

This is a cousin of Yellowstone National Park’s more famous Old Faithful – but this one is dog-friendly! You can sit in the viewing area and watch the geyser erupt at regular intervals, then stroll through the gardens and grounds.

READ MORE ⇒ Visiting Yellowstone National Park with Pets

Tips for Enjoying California Wine Country with Your Dog |  GoPetFriendly.com
Photo credit: Paroma Chakravarty

Of course, a trip to wine country should include wine tasting! And if you’ve visited wine country before, but not since the 2020 fire, you’ll find things have changed.

In September 2020, California’s wine country suffered extensive damage from the glass fire. Many wineries and vineyards were affected and most are still recovering. The result is that most wineries now require you to make a reservation for a tasting. This makes for a more personalized experience, but also requires you to plan ahead.

Tip #2: Most wineries and vineyards now require a reservation for a tasting, so planning ahead is important.

We recommend arranging a tasting at Clos Pegase, a pet-friendly winery that welcomes well-behaved dogs on leashes. Note that due to safety regulations, dogs are not allowed on the Clos Pegase estate tours.

From there, you can find more dog-friendly wineries by searching “activities” on GoPetFriendly.com or on the website Napa Vintners website.

Tip #3: Some notoriously dog-friendly tasting rooms have recently had to change their policies. So, even if you’ve brought your pooch in the past, don’t forget to check the policies in place.

Tips for Enjoying California Wine Country with Your Dog |  GoPetFriendly.com
Photo credit: Paroma Chakravarty

Sniffing around Sebastopol

Sebastopol in Sonoma County is another dog-friendly town that’s begging for a long weekend. Located between Santa Rosa and Bodega Bay, this tiny town is packed with great places that welcome pets. Factor in the excellent hiking opportunities and this could be your new favorite place to explore with your dog in wine country!

Some of the memorable dog-friendly places we ate at during our visit were:

  • Hole in the Wall – a popular breakfast spot with patio seating
  • HopMonk Tavern – where leashed dogs are welcome in the beer garden
  • Viva Mexicana – excellent food and dog friendly

You can also enjoy food and drinks at The Barlow, a 12-acre outdoor market district in Sebastopol. Stroll the dog-friendly campus for local food, wine, beer, spirits and crafts made on site by Sonoma County artisans.

Wine tasting is also available there, and we tried the MacPhail Tasting Lounge, which had outdoor seating and welcome dogs.

READ MORE ⇒ Take your dog to pet-friendly restaurants

Woman tasting cheese and wine sitting in wine country with her dog

The most popular dog-friendly trails of Sebastopol, West Regional County and Joe Rodota criss-cross and meet the now-abandoned Santa Rosa Railroad to the north. Get some exercise (dogs must be on leash) and then visit Santa Rosa’s historic Rail Road Square, where local boutiques and thrift stores lure passing shoppers.

Tip #4: Between tastings, find pet-friendly trails in the area so your pup can sniff out the local trees and bushes.

Tips for Enjoying California Wine Country with Your Dog |  GoPetFriendly.com
Photo credit: Paroma Chakravarty

There are also dog-friendly hiking trails at nearby Howard Regional Park. But keep in mind that the lake is full of geese there and gets pretty crowded on weekends with family picnics.

A better choice might be Rangle Ranch Regional Park, which offers beautiful hiking trails and an off-leash area for friendly dogs to socialize.

Tips for Enjoying California Wine Country with Your Dog |  GoPetFriendly.com
Photo credit: Paroma Chakravarty

About the author: Paroma Chakravarty is a scientist by day and blogger by night. She lives in the beautiful city of San Francisco with her husband and their puppy Gunda. She chronicles her adventures, as well as culinary experiences and her travel endeavours, on her blog. yrofthemonkey.com.

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