With the tender shoots of spring blossoming around Healdsburg and Kenwood — two of Northern California’s great wine-making towns about an hour and a half north of San Francisco — there’s wine tasting and outdoor excursions aplenty for you and your dog.
The knowledgeable local guides at Sonoma Vineyard Walks can get you started. They offer northern Sonoma County one day walks and three day visits to vineyards led by professional guides. One of their featured wineries is Montemaggiore Vineyards where two- and four-footed guests are welcome. Winery dog Zeppli is responsible for chasing rabbits from tender vine-shoots. The vineyard is noted for its Syrahs, as well as bio-dynamically farmed olive oil.
Continue down West Dry Creek Road to Lambert Bridge Winery, where Gus, a handsome yellow Lab, and Bernadette, a friendly St. Bernard, love to play and you can sample their artisanal Bordeaux blends. Lambert Bridge is one of the 46 wineries participating in the wine, food and music Passport to Dry Creek Wine weekend (April 24 and 25) and on the first Friday of June, July and August, mingle with fellow pet lovers at their Pizzas & Yappy Hour, sampling wines and wood-fired pizzas.
Head south on 101 and then east on the Sonoma Highway to sample Kenwood wineries and more dog-friendly activities. At the Sonoma Valley Regional Park, there are 162 acres of trails that are accessible to dogs on leash. Your dog can stretch his legs in Elizabeth Anne Perrone Dog Park, a one-acre, fully fenced play area within the park.
At Kunde Estate Winery, also off of highway 12, winegrower Jeff Kunde leads the Eco-Tour Dog Hike, three-mile trek through his family’s estate (May 15 and July 3). The walk concludes at Boot Hill overlooking the valley, where walkers enjoy wine tasting and a box lunch, and dogs get water and treats.
At Landmark Vineyards, winery dog Finnegan greets visitors. The grounds feature a beautifully landscaped garden, bocce court and a tasting room where you can try their signature Chardonnay; make your visit to springtime Sonoma a mini-vacation with a stay in their lodgings overlooking the vineyards.
For even more ideas on dog-friendly Sonoma wineries, visit Sonoma County Vintners.