5 Ways to Do Wine Country: Dog-Friendly Outings, Art Encounters and More

Looking for a unique way to spend the day in wine country? Here are a few ideas from our local expert.

Vino & Fido

Larson Family Winery
Larson Family Winery’s three labs.

With the dog days of summer comes celebrity status of sorts for a delightful pairing at Smith Story Wine Cellars in Healdsburg. Boasting two wines, as well as his own nonprofit, Socks for Sandwich, Lord Sandwich now spends chunks of his days “soupervising” baby brother, Sir Royal Soup. Nearly 72-thousand fans follow the Goldendoodle duo’s daily shenanigans on Instagram @sandwichthedoodle, but the true pawty is at the tasting room at Bacchus Landing where Smith Story is one of seven dog-friendly wineries with both indoor and outdoor space. 

Lady, the “Ambassador of Licks” at Dutcher Crossing in Geyserville, takes her winery dog responsibilities seriously. If you have any doubts, just ask for one of her business cards. Follow her on Instagram @lady_the_wine_dog or deliver belly rubs in person at the winery.

Louie, Rosko, and Ollie are the inspiration behind Larson Family Winery’s Three Lab Cabernet and Chardonnay. Check out their ruff life @larson.family.winery, or hop in the car with your pampered pooch and head to Sonoma. 

The Donum Estate

The Donum Estate
Vertical Panorama Pavilion at The Donum Estate

Home to one of the largest accessible private sculpture collections in the world, The Donum Estate in Sonoma is now offering an art-only tour. The 90-minute walking tour of the Estate features works the likes of Zodiac Heads by Ai Weiwei, Love Me by Richard Hudson, and Crouching Spider by Louise Bourgeois. Tours are available Wednesday through Sunday; reservations are required.

Paradise Ridge Winery

Paradise Ridge Winery
Paradise Ridge Winery

The LOVE sign may be the most photographed piece of sculpture art at Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa, but there are a plethora of works scattered on winery grounds. A tribute to Paradise Ridge co-founder Marijke Byck-Hoenselaars, Marijke’s Grove hosts permanent and rotating exhibits. The grove is free and open to the public every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Hess Art Collection

The Hess Art Collection

Donald Hess collected art for more than 50 years; some of his renowned collection is on display in Napa at Hess Persson Estates. The Hess Art Collection on Mount Veeder is comprised of nearly 100 works by artists from around the world including Magdalena Abakanowicz, Georg Baselitz, Franz Gertsch, and others. Admission to the winery museum is free, but reservations are required.

Green Milestones

Medlock Ames
Photo courtesy of Medlock Ames

Medlock Ames and The Donum Estate are the first wineries in Sonoma County to earn the respected Regenerative Organic Certified designation. Both properties spent multiple years working toward the achievement. Founded in 2017 by the Rodale Institute, Dr. Bronner’s, and Patagonia, the nonprofit Regenerative Organic Alliance (ROA) is comprehensive and holistic, and stands out in the crowded field of sustainability focused certifications because there are more requirements for applicants to fulfill. In addition to being certified organic, wineries must meet stringent requirements regarding worker fairness, soil health, and animal welfare. In Napa Valley, Neal Family Vineyards and Grgich Hills Estate are Regenerative Organic Certified. Mendocino County’s Bonterra Organic Estates also boasts the certification.

Dana Rebmann

Dana Rebmann has contributed to a variety of publications including Garden & Gun, Hemispheres, Shondaland, The (London) Telegraph, AARP, Diablo, Sonoma Magazine, and others.