Exploring San Luis Obispo’s Dog-Friendly Wineries

By Susan Hartzler

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Exploring San Luis Obispo’s Dog-Friendly Wineries
Seven strikes a pose in front of Four Lanterns Winery.
Traveling with your beloved furry companions can be a fulfilling adventure, albeit one that demands thoughtful planning. Here, seasoned traveler Susan Hartzler and her canine companion, Seven, share their insider tips for discovering the dog-welcoming wineries of San Luis Obispo County. On a rainy weekend, Seven and I embarked on a quest to sniff out dog-friendly wineries in San Luis Obispo. Seven brought his pal Bear along, which meant I had the pleasure of exploring the region with Bear’s owner, Penny, a true wine connoisseur. Even amidst the rain, the drive featuring breathtaking scenery of rolling hills and lush vineyards left me in awe. We were eagerly anticipating the experience of visiting dog-friendly wineries, many of which have their own resident “winery dogs” to welcome visitors. While some vineyards permit well-behaved pets in picnic areas, others extend a warm invitation within their tasting rooms. Here, water bowls, delectable dog treats, and plenty of affection await these four-legged guests. Rumor has it that even leash-trained cats and the occasional pet llama have made appearances at tastings in San Luis Obispo. Our first stop was at Chamisal Vineyards, nestled in a serene setting just 10 minutes from downtown San Luis Obispo, within the picturesque Edna Valley. Chamisal is renowned for its sustainably produced chardonnay and pinot noir, served directly from the source in their tasting room. Next, we ventured to the charming, family-owned Venteux Vineyards estate, located in the Willow Creek district of Paso Robles. Venteux takes pride in employing natural farming and winemaking techniques that showcase their vineyard’s unique land and location. They craft award-winning Rhone varietals by cultivating their grapes on head-trained vines and employing natural yeast fermentation during dry farming. The estate’s grounds are absolutely breathtaking, with vast expanses of open space. Picture lush, green rolling hills covered in grapevines as far as the eye can see. When the sun graces this land, you can enjoy your wine tasting outdoors and engage in lawn games.
Author of “I’m not Single: I Have a Dog” and travel writer Susan Hartzler rarely goes anywhere without her canine companion, Seven. Together they explore dog-friendly destinations and Susan posts their adventures on GetAventura.com, and now in The Canyon Chronicle.
Castoro Cellars, another San Luis Obispo winery, boasts a Mediterranean style tasting room nestled in the heart of the Paso Robles wine appellation, just off Highway 101, along scenic Highway 46. To access the spacious tasting room and wine shop, visitors stroll through a long grape arbor, setting the stage for a delightful experience with their slogan, “dam fine wines.” Castoro’s “dam fine wines” encompass reds like “Zinfusion,” tempranillo, syrah, cabernet, pinot noir, and red blends. Notable whites include chardonnay, tango, pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, and viognier. Everything we tasted at Castoro was spectacular, and we even took a bottle of their brandy home with us.

Four Lanterns Winery, a family-owned and operated boutique winery in Paso Robles, occupies a 35-acre property within the Willow Creek American Viticultural Area on West Highway 46. According to owners Steve and Jackie Gleason, this region’s combination of hot days, cool nights, and calcareous soil provides an ideal environment for crafting wine. Their tasting room, a converted barn that now serves wine, offers a comfortable atmosphere with a long wooden bar where you can sample some of their award-winning varietals. Four Lanterns Winery specializes in westside Paso estate-grown and produced Rhone and Bordeaux-style wines.

Since we were staying in Cambria, we went into the quaint town and stopped at Cutruzzola Vineyards tasting room. This vineyard produces Riesling and pinot noir from an estate vineyard situated just a few miles from the ocean, on the other side of the coastal mountains. Nestled among the pines in the West Village, we had the pleasure of sampling their award-winning boutique wines. Meanwhile, Seven and Bear were treated to some delectable dog biscuits, allowing them to rest comfortably on the cool floor while Penny and I savored the wines uninterrupted.

Also in Cambria, Madeline’s Restaurant and Wine Cellar also extends a warm welcome to well-behaved dogs at its bar before 5 p.m. Here, pet owners can indulge in wine tastings, with most of the wines on the menu hailing from France. However, Madeline’s recently collaborated with Central Coast winemaker Jeff Branco, famous for his work with Justin Winery, to produce five of their own wines sourced from various locations across San Luis Obispo County.

San Luis Obispo County boasts numerous other wineries listed on the San Luis Obispo Wine Map, and available at local wineries. If you’re traveling from afar, consider staying at the pet-friendly Cambria Shores Inn in Moonstone Beach, where we enjoyed a warm welcome, complete with a basket filled with doggie delights that brought immense joy to Seven and Bear. Penny and I were equally thrilled by the breathtaking ocean view.

With all the love and affection that staff and fellow wine enthusiasts showered upon Seven and Bear during our journey, life back home seemed a bit mundane for both of us. It’s high time to start planning our next adventure.

Susan Hartzler, a devoted canine enthusiast, acclaimed author, and dog friendly travel writer delves into the extraordinary connection between dogs and their human companions. Alongside her pack, she explores destinations for dogs and their guardians and posts stories about her adventures on GetAventura.com, the first free user-generated content platform for everything trips, travel and adventure. Her debut memoir, “I’m Not Single, I Have a Dog: Dating Tales From The Bark Side,” was published in 2021 by McFarland Publishers.

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November 10, 2023