The only thing better than sipping a fine glass of chardonnay overlooking a sun kissed vineyard, is doing that with your furry best friend by your side.
My boyfriend and I had landed new Monday – Friday jobs, the adult kind that can actually pay for rent in Southern California, so we decided we should celebrate this milestone with a wine tasting weekend getaway. As much as we love our romantic getaways for two, I knew I needed to celebrate the start of our new lives with my best friend, Butters.
We began our research on dog friendly wineries and was delighted to find many were located in the Santa Ynez Valley about an hour away from home!
We booked a hotel in the city of Santa Maria which is about 20 minutes outside of Los Olivos. It was considerably cheaper than the adorable town of Solvang, due to it being a holiday weekend, and the short drive north was beautiful due to the recent rains in Southern California.
Day 1: Los Olivos
Los Olivos has an adorable downtown with plenty of dog friendly tasting rooms on the main drive, but tasting rooms can get a bit loud and crowded so we decided to find wineries that allowed dogs not only in the tasting room but had a patio with a view and some peace and quiet.
Ok, I know you’re supposed to save the best for last, but I’m going to go against the norm here and say our favorite winery we visited was Beckmen Vineyards. We loved this winery so much that we joined their wine club to insure we’d come back for several visits throughout the year! Intrigued as to why? Keep reading …
Not only does Beckmen Vineyards allow dogs inside there tasting room for those rare cold Southern California days, but they also have a large covered wooden deck that overlooks their beautiful biodynamic vineyard. Being biodynamic, the grounds have two ponds that ducks and geese call home.
We loved how friendly the staff were with Butters, and Butters loved feeling right at home at Beckmen Vineyards.
Lunch in Los Olivos
Ok, quick side note … Eat while you’re wine tasting! Yes all those little teases of wine add up so make sure you get something other than alcohol in your belly!
Los Olivos has a lot of trendy farm to table restaurants to choose from. A personal favorite of mine is Sides. I went with a group of friends and the food was so good I didn’t even get the chance to take a picture of it before my savage comrades devoured everything.
On this particular visit we were looking for something quick and easy and stumbled upon a Filipino food truck parked next to a park where Butters was able to relax in the grass and enjoy an occasional bite of lumpia.
With a belly full of lumpia and pancit we drove to our next stop, Koehler Winery.
This place was much more lively than Beckmen with a cool patio, friendly emus, and sassy sommeliers. We should have saved room after lunch, because they had a taco guy whipping up fresh street tacos and the onions and cilantro smelled amazing … not sure if I’d pair them with a syrah or chardonnay …
The tasting room was packed, so we opted for the large patio. It costs $15-$20 per person for wine tasting, but you get to take home a complimentary Koehler Winery logo glass. Butters enjoyed the large grassy area and checking out the wildlife, and we enjoyed a beautiful golden sunset.
Dog-friendly bonus tip: Ordering take-out! Sometimes it’s hard to find dog-friendly restaurants for a late dinner, and you may not be in the mood for fast food. I have spent a lot of nights eating take-out from a carton on a hotel bed. This particular night we opted for Texas Roadhouse, a personal favorite of mine whenever I’m in Santa Maria.
After a fun day of eating and drinking, Butters enjoyed some R&R.
Day 2: Solvang
Solvang is one of the most dog-friendly towns in Southern California, almost every restaurant has a dog-friendly patio to enjoy delicious Danish meals with you furry friend.
So we knew that it wouldn’t be an issue finding a tasting room we would love and Butters would feel comfortable in. Enter, Carivintas Winery.
When a winery has a slogan of “Blending wine with Philanthropy”, you know you’re at the right place. Carivintas’s tasting room is right in the middle of the charming town of Solvang and near a park where Butters was able to stretch her legs before relaxing on one of their cozy complimentary dog beds while we sampled on a tastings of delicious red wines.
When you walk in, animal art puts a smile on your face and adorable pictures of rescued animals grace their bottles. Carivintas is affiliated with several non-profit groups that donate to great animal causes every year.
So buy a bottle or three because as you sip on that pinot noir back at home, you can pour yourself another glass and cheers to you for helping animals find their furever home.
There are so many more wineries in the Santa Ynez region that you and your pup can enjoy together, we barely even scratched (pun intended) the surface of dog-friendly eateries in the city of Solvang alone!
For a complete list of all things dog-friendly, Solvang has a wonderful website with great resources!
So Cheers to you and your pinot loving pup!