18. July 2008
Top 10 Dog Friendly Sonoma Wineries
When we arrived at the rental office we were handed a post of the Top 10 Dog Friendly Sonoma Wineries. This post from 2006 lists some amazing tiny (and not so tiny) wineries that, at that time, allowed dogs. We love wine and we love lists, so with a bit of planning we set out to revisit the ten on the list (plus a few more).
As you would expect, there have been a few changes since 2006. Some new wineries have popped up and a few have changed hands. To our dismay, several have changed their policies due in large part to Dog Owners who think dog friendly is a right rather than a privilege. We also have a slightly different interpretation of Dog Friendly" than the 2006 author. In order to qualify for our list you had to be able to have your dog by your side while tasting.
Anyway, here is our list, be nice to these folks, ask if you can bring your dog, don’t assume just because they allowed us that they will allow you…
Our revised Top Dog Friendly Sonoma wineries are:
|4||DF||Donatiello (Formerly Belvedere)||2|
|5||DF||Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves||*|
|6||DF||Taft Street Winery||3|
We dropped the following wineries because they do not allow you to have your dog with you while tasting.
As I said, a few dog owners ruined it for the rest of us. The following wineries are no longer on the list because they do not allow you to have your dog on the grounds.
Dog Friendliness Rating: DW=Dogs Welcome, DF=Dog Friendly, DT=Dog Tolerant, NP=No Pets
Wilson, Matrix, and Mazzocco
If there is a common dog/dog owner heaven it probably feels a lot like Wilson, Matrix and Mozzocco. Award winning wines, great views, tables for picnicking and cool concrete floors for hot dog tummies make these sister vineyards our top pick. If that were not enough the staff are dog people as well as wine people. Their passion for both infused our conversations with equally disparaging comments about wine snobs and bad dog owners. Pick up a sandwich and some pasta salad from Big John’s Market on the way to Wilson.
Crisp wines and an amazing garden make Donatiello another great stop for a picnic with your four footed friend. The water falls and English garden steps make for a picturesque backdrop for wine tasting and picture taking.
You may be surprised by how hot it can get in the summer in Sonoma. Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves offer a cavernous tasting room that stays cool on the hottest summer day. The concrete floor feels great on a dog belly. Great people, great wines.
Taft Street started in a garage in Berkeley (or is it Oakland?) “As long as Finnigan is OK with it…” you can bring your friend into this tiny tasting room. Though Willa ignored the cat, Finnigan would not leave her alone, playfully patting at Willa’s paws and sniffing her in a very canine way.
More great views and a very cute winery dog named Kiri (after the famed opera singer) greet you as you reach the top of the hill. Russian Hill has a nice variety of wines including Port.
We have to give Iron Horse Vineyards honorable mention for their very gracious and welcoming winemaker David Munksgard. We arrived late and spotted the “No Dogs” sign. After telling us he was closed, he paused and with a “what the hell” opened a bottle of their terrific 2003 Classic Vintage Brut. I inquired about the “No Dogs” sign mentioning the Top 10 list and he told us why he changed his policy…suspicions confirmed…bad dog owners.