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Exploring Local Wineries with Your Dog

As dog owners, one of life’s greatest joys is discovering an activity that we can enjoy with our pups by our side. Personally, I would bring my two dogs just about everywhere if I could. I’ve selected vacation spots, restaurants, hotels, and more based on how welcome my dogs will be, and I know many of you reading this have done the same! To the delight of dog owners everywhere, there seems to be an uptick in the number of destinations that not only allow, but extend a warm invitation to, our furry family members.

Wine tasting may not be the first experience you’d think to do with your pups in tow, but you might be surprised at just how welcome dogs are at a growing number of wineries, including several in Southern California’s very own wine country, Temecula. Dog and wine lovers, rejoice! Of the 40+ wineries in Temecula, nearly half of them allow well-behaved, leashed pups on their grounds.

Temecula Valley, which is where almost all the vineyards can be found, enjoys a climate resembling that of the Tuscan countryside. The combination of sun-drenched days, little rain, cool nights, and coastal fog create ideal conditions for growing more than two dozen types of grapes, with a focus on Mediterranean varieties, many of them sustainably sourced. Temecula is gaining in popularity as a wine-tasting destination, receiving ever-increasing accolades for the high-quality wines it produces, not to mention a culinary scene to please the most discerning palate. The picturesque valley currently attracts an average of 3 million visitors every year.

So, are you ready for your next swirl-and-sip getaway? Don’t forget the leash (and poop bags!).

I decided to drop by a few of Temecula’s wineries with my two dogs (all in the name of research, of course), and we made our first stop at Somerset Wineries. The moment we walked in, the dogs were excitedly greeted, which is how I know it’s my kind of place! We were warmly encouraged to explore and enjoy, and we happily obliged, learning a little about the history of the property in the process. The owners are a family that has worked together for years, transforming the 13-acre property from merely a wine producer into the warm, cozy setting it is now, perfect for sharing the beautiful surroundings with friends (and the dogs) and a glass of your favorite vino. On weekends, you’ll discover a festive atmosphere, usually with live music playing and a fun, social vibe on the outdoor patio, the enchanting vineyards stretching in all directions. Tours are offered throughout the week, and well-behaved dogs are welcome to join!

Next stop, Oak Mountain Winery. There we met a few other pups enjoying the picturesque property with their owners, much to the delight of my ultra-social Frenchie. We strolled among different varietals of grapes, where leashed dogs are welcome (given they are cleaned up after, of course). The far-reaching grapevines, just beginning to come into their summer glory, were breathtaking, and the dogs were beside themselves with bliss at all the new smells.

When we reached the restaurant, a charming and tranquil location nestled in the trees, we were delighted to discover that the menu featured a special chicken and rice dish just for dogs.

Oak Mountain Winery is very dog friendly. Dogs are allowed inside the tasting room, gift shop, and outdoor dining area. PHOTO COURTESY OAK MOUNTAIN WINERY
Oak Mountain Winery is very dog friendly.  Dogs are allowed inside the tasting room, gift shop, and outdoor dining area. Photo courtesy Oak Mountain Winery

My final visit was to Cougar Vineyard and Winery, where my dogs were not only enthusiastically welcomed but also loved instantly, as I soon learned. Ours, their own, and those waiting for a forever home—at Cougar Vineyard and Winery, they love them all. The owner’s dog, Cilie (pronounced “Chili”), which is short for the grape name Ciliegiolo, can be found at the winery daily, hanging out with her friend Willow, the assistant winemaker’s dog. Every month, this ultra dog-friendly winery teams up with a local shelter to host an adoption event, which they call “Yappy Hour.” This social event also features an assortment of vendors offering treasures of both the canine and wine variety. All dogs are welcome (on leash), treats such as pupsicles are available, and the dogs can enjoy meals from their own canine menu. Cougar also offers a special K-9 club in addition to their standard wine club, which scores you such goodies as a Cougar logo bandanna and “dog-gone discounts.”

This was just a small sampling (call it a flight!) of the many gorgeous wineries in Temecula that encourage us to bring along our four-legged family, and after my experience, I’m eager to return and visit more of them. Each had its own distinctive charm and offered something special, in additon to their delicious wines. I think I speak for dog owners everywhere when I extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who allows our pups to join us on new adventures of all kinds. It is a joy for both us and them to have them along, and we truly appreciate your gracious hospitality. A friendly reminder to dog owners: Let’s always be sure to respect the rules of dog-friendly destinations to ensure they remain that way, and so that more establishments will consider opening their doors to our beloved pups in the future!

See you in Temecula. Cheers!


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