Dog Friendly Wine tasting in Santa Cruz

Tucker and Piper

Tucker and Piper

If you are thinking of a good way to beat the heat and have an outing with your best friend, I have a suggestion. Wine tasting at wineries in Santa Cruz that are dog friendly.

On June 30th it was 103 degrees in my town. So Hill and I decided to take my best friend, and his evil little sister, to the beach and met up with Troya and Doc. Doc suggested we do some wine tasting while we were there and he informed me that the wineries were dog friendly so bring the kids. What a great way to spend a beautiful Sunday. So off we went to Swift Street Wineries to enjoy some great local wines and spend time with friends and family.  Our first stop was MJA Vineyards.  They had a water bowl and treats for the kids.  Most of their grapes came from the Napa Area.  My favorite was the 2011 Sangiovese.  Our next stop was Sones Cellars.  Plenty of room for the dogs to lay down while mommy and daddy tasted some wines.  They also had plenty of dog treats and water bowls.   They had a nice selection but the 2010 Cancion del Mar got my attention. I’m not a big white wine drinking so when I come across one that gets my attention, I have to buy it.  It was cool, fruity (but not sweet) and crisp.  Perfect for a hot day.  Our last stop was Bartolo wines and Equinox Methode Champenoise.  Barry was totally cool.  He gave the dogs the run of the place but they were too tired to get into trouble.  I enjoyed his Sparkling wines and I left with a bottle of his 2008 Cioppino Rosso, which is an interesting blend of Syrah, Chardonnay and Mourvedre.  I also took home a bottle of his 2008 Syrah, a GSM blend.

I know there are more dog friendly wineries, restaurants and hotels out there.  Keep following the blog for more reviews.  Also, send me a list of your favorite places to take your 4 legged best friends.   I would love to visit them.

Picnic At The Windy Oaks

wpid-IMG_20130601_130951_912.jpgIt was a magnificent weekend in the Monterey Bay area, high 70’s to low 80’s, no fog, no clouds. We do not get a lot of those. Troya suggested we take advantage and have a picnic lunch so after a quick stop at Deluxe Foods to stock up on some Irish cheddar and a little slice of triple cream Brie, boar meat sausage, rosemary garlic sourdough, some almonds and fresh strawberry’s we headed up to Windy Oaks winery. Having been there before, we were familiar with their long list of amazing Pinot Noir’s, a little pricy but worth it on special occasions like this (see our prior post on Windy Oaks). We had not explored the property last time we were here but were told they had a great little picnic spot. We choose a bottle of Diane’s Block and headed out on the trail. After a moderate 5 minute hike to the top of a Knoll they have several tables set up between grape fields and under several oak tree’s giving the perfect amount of shade. The view down into the valley is spectacular. Great food, great wine, great location, the only thing missing was Brax and Hill (suckers had to work).

Windy Oaks


Troya and I took a little time out from our weekend chores to attend the annual Pinot and food paring at Nicholson Vineyard this weekend. They have your standard Santa Cruz Mountain varietals, but specialize in Pinot Noir. Their wines started out very good and have been improving over the years, getting more refined and complex. I will not go into any great detail but tasting them side by side was a lot of fun and we were able to taste the nuances of each different Pinot.


On our way out we saw a sign for Windy Oaks Estate. We have tasted the other wines in the Coralitos area and have not been overly impressed, but had not been here before. Its a little bit of a drive, but if you are not rushed its beautiful. The winery itself is on an incredible property (picture above) with hiking trails to a point that you can look out to the ocean. They also specialize in Pinot Noir. Troya and I both enjoyed the tasting although she liked some different ones than I did. They are all classic SCM Pinots with subtle differences in flavor and smoothness (is that a word?). We would have been much more interested if their prices were more in range with the others in this area, $39-$60 being a little steep, but still work checking out.



We just checked out the new burger. in Aptos.image

Troya has been to the main one in Santa Cruz, but this was my fist time. They offer all the classic burgers and a lot of interesting combinations. I decided to go basic since it was my fist time. I went with the mushroom and swiss (sub-ed out the swiss for cheddar). Troya also went clasic with the bacon/bbq/onion ring combo. The young one, still hold on to his vegetarianism, went with the house made veggie burger. All the burgers were great. The paties are thin style, but have a lot of flavor and are from grass-fed beef. The picky young one ate his whole
imageveggie burger without saying much other then “yeh, this is good”. The sauces the put on the burgers were all very flavorful without being too much. The only thing we universally questioned was the bun. They are small and hard, almost like an over cooked biskut. They they were to ask me, I would go with a different style bun. One last thing, yes they really do have this many beers on tap, and yes, we will be back.