All Wine, No Whine at These Lake County Wineries
While water activities are of course a big attraction in Lake County, more than 30 wineries, most with dog-friendly picnic areas and tasting rooms, call out to visitors in one of the fastest-growing wine regions in the country. While best known for its Sauvignon Blancs, Lake County’s Petite Sirahs and big reds are gaining well-deserved cachet. The Lake County wine-growing region blanketing the eastern portion of the county is divided into seven AVAs (American Viticultural Areas), or appellations, each with its own sense of place.
You and your dog will get a warm welcome at Six Sigma Ranch and Winery, Steele Wines and Thorn Hill Vineyards, to name just a few of the many estates where you can taste with Lucky by your side. And how can a DogTrekker resist a place called Smiling Dogs Ranch, which has a tasting room (one of four) on Main Street in downtown Kelseyville, on the south end of the lake? (Answer: you can’t!)
Up Highway 53 headed toward Clearlake Oaks, about an hour from Napa Valley, you’ll find a unique experience called “Bed & Barrel” at Stonehouse Cellars. Your dog can be with you when you visit and sample the result of how the winemakers apply the best organic and biodynamic practices on decades old Cabernet Sauvignon vines. When finished tasting, you and your pup can head to the century old Stonehouse for the night and wake up to a morning breakfast prepared to order with local ingredients and seasonal treats.
Heading south, Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill, renowned for its award-winning Sauvignon Blancs, has a tasting room where you can also buy locally produced oils and soaps. At Beaver Creek Vineyards, you can learn about certified organic and biodynamic winemaking and sample the difference at the tasting bar. To enjoy a little history with your award-winning Petite Sirah, head to Langtry Estate & Vineyard near Middletown, in the south county’s Guenoc AVA. This vast estate, named for British actress Lillie Langtry, who purchased it in the 1880s, encourages relaxation in a picnic area framing views of rolling vineyards and a reservoir tucked into the hills.
A novel option: the Red Hills Terroir Trail, a private 1.25-mile path through vineyards and countryside connecting the dog-friendly Vigilance and Gregory Graham wineries in the Lower Lake area (open only during tasting room hours).
Want to sample several Lake County wines under one roof? Pop into the Lake Country Wine Studio in Upper Lake, a specialty wine-tasting room and retail shop that welcomes four-legged guests so long as their owners are considerate of folks who might be uncomfortable or allergic.
Top Photo courtesy of Bed & Barrel at Stonehouse Cellars.