Top Wine Stories of 2007

Wine Country Travel Guide:

by Courtney Cochran

For some animal lovers, travel without your pet just isn't the same. If you fall into this group, we've got a host of tips for navigating wine country with your best pal in tow. From how to locate pet-friendly destinations to suggestions for dog-friendly activities, lodging tips and more, our guide should have you and your four-legged friend ready to set out for the vineyards in no time. Whatever you do, don’t forget the treats!


What to Know In Advance: What to Know In Advance: Visit enough wineries and you'll soon find that winery pets (unofficial mascots, really) figure prominently in the personality of these spots, often lounging on patios, cavorting in vineyards and – all-importantly - nudging guests for rubs and pets in tasting rooms. Especially in more-casual regions such as Sonoma, dog-friendly spots abound. Still, you'll need to call ahead to confirm pet policies at tasting rooms, and the same goes for hotels. Online resources such as Fido Factor (tagline: Your Life with Dog) can assist you in ferreting out dog-friendly locations, including wag-oriented hotels.

Before you go, be sure that your pet’s vaccinations are up to date and he sports proper identification. You may also wish to put together a basic pet first-aid kit, which should include phone numbers for your veterinarian and a 24-hour emergency vet in the area where you'll be traveling. Crucially, always carry with you plenty of water, food and treats. Familiar toys, food and water bowls will help your pet to relax and feel comfortable in his new environment. For more on flying with pets, click here.

Expert Etiquette: As a pet lover you’re no doubt familiar with basic pet etiquette, but here are a few reminders and highlights that should come in handy when you’re in wine country:

  • Always have a leash on hand, and use it until you have been assured it is okay to have your pet off-leash.
  • Never assume other animals are socialized; inquire with other owners before letting dogs play and roam off-leash together.
  • Ask for permission before turning dogs loose on private property e.g. a winery picnic area or lawn.
  • Be sure to have plenty of doggie bags on hand for cleaning up after your pet.

If you decide to leave your pet in your hotel room for any period of time, be sure to leave a "do not disturb" sign on the door and notify the front desk and hospitality staff.

Activities Roster: Wine country is fit to bursting with options for activities with your furry friend. From wine tasting and patio dining to park visits, walks around town plazas and along outdoor trails, hiking, beach going and more, you'll find no shortage of things to do. Our favorites are highlighted in our Top 10 Wine Country Pet Activities & Attractions list below, and we always appreciate your tips and suggestions for any we may have overlooked. Please drop us a line in our message boards if you'd like us to include others!

If you find pet-friendly tasting room options limited when you're visiting – or if you would just like to do something you can't do with your furry friend in tow – you might consider hitting up pet-friendly spots one day and boarding your pet for another. Wine Country Pet Resort – located in the Carneros district that encompasses southern portions of both Napa and Sonoma counties – offers day services for pet boarders. Take advantage of your time sans Fido to visit attractions that don’t allow pets!

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>>Top 10 Wine Country Pet Activities & Attractions