A love for wine and dogs can co-exist. People take their pets everywhere these days--dining and drinking out, no exception. Although Los Angeles has approved pets on restaurant patios (per the recent Squid Ink post), rules prohibit them inside. Nor are they welcome at bars or in the tasting rooms at in-town Malibu-area wineries.
Canines, like people, thrive out in wine country's clear air, open acres and room to roam. And since winery dogs are an essential fact of life in wine country, both for security and companionship -- several books chronicle their carefree days -- they're welcomed at many tasting rooms.
As road trips pair best with summer, turn the page for a guide to winery tasting rooms that accommodate dogs -- ordered by distance from L.A. -- and wine suggestions for their human companions.
5. Municipal Winemakers, Santa Barbara:
Municipal Winemakers' owner and winemaker Dave Potter spent six years training in Western Australia which formed his casual approach to winemaking--intellectual but not too precious. (Here's a Squid Ink profile that spells it out). Muni's now much larger tasting room--in a former dive shop two blocks from Santa Barbara's beach and harbor--has a casual vibe too. Sip the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc outside on the fenced-in patio or perch at high-top tables made from reclaimed wood in the open air tasting room where yarn-bombed bottles serve as décor and recycled paint cans as dump buckets. There's an ever-changing selection of wine-on-tap. Current bottled wines to taste represent the Central Coast's best vineyards like the delicate dry 2011 Bright White Riesling from Los Alamos' Kick on Ranch. Muni's dog visitors get tons of Facebook love. 22 Anacapa St., Santa Barbara; (805) 931-6864.
4. Presqu'ile Tasting Room, Los Olivos:
Downtown Los Olivos is super convenient for wine drinkers because of its 43 winery tasting rooms in a four block area. "There's no need to get lost in wine country, and you'll taste a broad spectrum of Santa Barbara County wines," advises Matt Murphy Presqu'ile's president. At Presqu'ile's tasting room, which opened in February, a pit bull-mix and rescue named Hazel often greets guests and is willing to share her water bowl. Cool blue walls and a modern look inside set this winery tasting room apart. Wines here are made using only native yeasts (rather than added in via inoculation, the more common approach). Try the 2009 Presqu'ile Rim Rock Vineyard Pinot Noir (available only at the tasting room) or the vibrant Presqu'ile Rosé of Pinot Noir (available at ink. in Los Angeles too). Wander down the block to Panino for a generous-sized sandwich or to the nearby Sides restaurant, from the brothers who famously ran Mattei's Tavern, now in new digs. 2360 Alamo Pintado Ave., Los Olivos; (805) 688-2022.
3. Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard, Los Olivos:
Wide green lawns shaded by sycamores and perfectly tended vineyards surround Fess Parker Winery's tasting room on the curvy Foxen Canyon Road. In addition to the Western-styled grand indoor tasting room, an outside bar is open for wine tasting during the busiest times and is the ideal place to take in the view and try the 2010 Fess Parker Ashley's Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay or the aromatic 2010 Fess Parker Santa Barbara County Viognier. Winemaker Blair Fox has premium quality vineyards to cull from; and the winery tasting room offers several current releases of Pinot Noir and Syrah that all demonstrate Fox's sure hand. On August 18th, the winery hosts a movie night outside on the lawn featuring founder Fess Parker's Smoky--kids and pets welcome, Santa Maria style tri-tip sandwiches available too. 6200 Foxen Canyon Rd., Los Olivos; (805) 688-1545.
2. Dierberg & Star Lane Vineyards Tasting Room, Lompoc:
West of the 101, heading out towards Lompoc, is a bright green barn housing the tasting room for both Dierberg Estate wines and its sister property Star Lane Vineyards. Inviting to pets and people is the manicured green lawn--play bocce ball, lay out or picnic on the grass and make an afternoon of it. Because the tasting room is set back from the highway and sheltered by a hill, it feels miles removed from the rest of the Santa Ynez Valley. Owners Jim and Mary Dierberg have three estate vineyards and the tasting room showcases them all including wines from Star Lane Vineyard located in the warmer Happy Canyon AVA. A sip of the 2008 Star Lane Merlot will change any reservations about this under-appreciated varietal. 1280 Drum Canyon Rd. Lompoc; (866) 652-8430.
1.Frank Family Vineyards, Calistoga:
Nestled behind an historic winemaking facility, the tasting room for the Frank Family Vineyards is a cozy restored Craftsman house with its own yard of tall oaks, picnic tables and a garden ringed in fruit trees. The tasting room has a long-standing rep for friendliness to all comers: No Napa Valley pretensions here. (The Frank Family's Winston Hill Vineyard was named for a favored pet). Frank Family Vineyards produces a delightful sparkling wine, a true blanc de blanc from Chardonnay grapes. Try that and the plummy 2009 Frank Family Vineyards Napa Valley Zinfandel, the robust 2009 Frank Family Vineyards Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and finish off with a taste of the late harvest Chardonnay -- only available at the winery. 1091 Larkmead Lane Calistoga; (800) 574-9463.
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