A Dog in the [Wine] Country

Domaine Carneros

When our puppy Brewster was about 3.5 months old, I discovered the most wonderful thing: I could take him to wine country. It turns out there are tons of places that are dog-friendly up in Sonoma & Napa. And even better, we were told that the grass at wineries can probably be assumed “safe” for young puppies who are still awaiting their last parvo vaccines (read: it’s unlikely that dogs who’ve been untreated for the parvo virus are running rampant among the lush vineyard lawns).

So off we went on one sunny Saturday morning — me, Brewster, and four of my girl friends — to enjoy a day of puppies and wine. It’s always worth asking if a winery is dog-friendly, because even if they aren’t on an official list stating so, they will often have an outdoor area where they allow dogs. (And I’ve found that with small dogs who are as cute as Brewster, they will sometimes even make an exception inside, especially if you can hold them.)

We started our day at Domaine Carneros, a place that I never would have expected would allow dogs — but sure enough, they do on their patio (as long as they’re on a leash). Brewster hung out under the table in the shade, gnawing on a dried pig ear, while we adults gnawed on a cheese place and champagne flight. Truly the perfect way to start a day in wine country.

Next stop: Ram’s Gate Winery, where they do not allow dogs inside, but do welcome them on the back patio overlooking the lake. And even better, you can take your wine down to the grassy area by the lake, where there are a few Adirondack chairs set up, and let your dog explore. Each time we’ve gone, there have been at least a couple other dogs there, so it’s social hour for both you and your pup.

We ended our day at the greatest diner on earth, Fremont Diner. Seriously, if you haven’t been there yet, stop whatever you are doing, get in your car, and head straight there for an oyster po’ boy or some spicy fried chicken. They have a large outdoor area with picnic tables that are great for a bite with your pup, who will undoubtedly be pacing underneath the table looking for any scraps that might fall his way. Just be sure to grab a malt shake for the drive home, and your day will be complete.

See the Dog-Friendly Wineries page for more suggestions on where to wine with your pup.

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