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Meet the Winery Dogs of Santa Clara Valley

As a part of the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail, Gilroy is close to more than 30 wineries in this beautiful, historic, award-winning wine region. These wineries are known for their delicious wines and stunning scenery, but they’re also known for their friendliness—and that includes their friendly winery dogs.

Nearly all the wineries along the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail are dog-friendly, perhaps because many have a winery dog of their own. These dogs are greeters, critter patrol, vineyard explorers, and faithful companions. As Karen MacNeill in The Wine Bible put it, “in a California vineyard, you might as well spell dog backward. In a vineyard, a dog realizes her higher calling.” Winery dogs aren’t just dogs—they’re an important part of each winery’s unique character.

Take a few minutes to get to know some of our favorite dogs along the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail, and then schedule a weekend visit to Gilroy to wine taste and meet some of these fun, furry friends face-to-face!


Meet Pepper at Calerrain Wines

Pepper is a 12-year-old little girl who still scampers around Calerrain Wines with some “pep” in her step. When she’s not busy checking out guests and nosing around for food, she loves to lounge on the sofa in the sun right under the winery’s sign.

a small white and brown dog lies on a chair in the sun under a winery sign

Pepper’s family lovingly calls her their cat, as she can be very independent and aloof.

Pepper wants you to know that she may approach you with interest, but most of the time she’ll dart away before you can pet her. She will come closer, however, for her favorite snack of salami and cheese.

a small dog lies on a blanket surrounded by wine boxes

Visit Calerrain Wines for an afternoon to meet Pepper and bring your family and your dog (with a table reservation only) and see how many times you can spot Pepper popping by your table.


Meet Paris at Cottage Creek Vineyards

They say good things come in small packages, and if that’s true, then Paris (the dog) must be a little ball full of goodness! Paris is a brand-new winery dog at Cottage Creek Vineyards. After losing their previous beloved Yorkie of 16 years, winery owners Denise and Sam Russell have been enjoying the addition of their playful, loving puppy.

a small white and brown dog looking up on the grass with a purple ribbon and a purple bandana

A miniature Yorkie that will never weigh more than about 5 pounds, Paris’s favorite spot to hang out is in her “mommy” Denise’s little doggie sling. Although she’s only a few months old, Paris already loves to greet guests and hang out with people.

a very small white and brown dog on a wine barrel table

Paris wants you to know that she and Sam and Denise spend lots of time working behind the scenes to create the perfect experience for their guests, from the grounds to the wine. Paris and the Russells can’t wait to welcome you to Cottage Creek Vineyards.


Meet Diesel at Fortino Winery

Diesel has been a wonderful family member and faithful sidekick to Gino Fortino at Fortino Winery ever since he was hand-picked by the family as a pup nine years ago. They fell in love with him at first sight, especially his “Bentley Mark”—a white patch of fur found on the foreheads of some heeler dog breeds.

a dog sits in the grass

Diesel’s favorite place to be is wherever Gino is—whether sunbathing in front of his office, working in the vineyard, making wine, or just sitting with Gino in his recliner at the end of a long workday to rest his head on his shoulder. Diesel also loves to say hello to visitors to the winery.

a woman with a wine glass pets a happy dog

If you visit Fortino Winery and are greeted by Diesel, he wants you to know that you should definitely stop to give him an ear rub. He loves it and will give you a big doggie smile in return!


Meet Lucky at Hecker Pass Winery

Lucky is an eight-year-old winery dog that was adopted by the Fortino family at Hecker Pass Winery. He was adopted from the animal shelter as a puppy, where they fell in love with his friendly, cheerful eyes.

Lucky works hard at the winery by herding the tractor and forklift. His favorite downtime spot is on the lawn in front of the tasting room.

a black and white dog with a stick in his mouth runs through green grass with a vineyard behind him

Lucky would want guests to know that Hecker Pass Winery has been family-owned and operated for over fifty years and that his winery has always had a winery dog. Lucky’s family feels that their winery dogs are part of the family and a very special part of their winery’s story.
Come meet Lucky and his family at Hecker Pass Winery.


Meet Little Girl & Sasha at L & M Vineyard

Two special little dogs keep things running at  L&M Vineyard. Little Girl is a 16-year-old Chiweenie (a Chihuahua and Dachshund mix), and Sasha is a 13-year-old mix (or should we say a “blend”). Sadly, both these dogs were abandoned, but Larry and Mandy Imas, owners of the vineyard, adopted them when they were young.

two dogs sit in a vineyard

Little Girl & Sasha

Wherever their owners are, there you will find these two girls, whether in the vines or following them while they serve wine to guests. Sasha’s specialty at the vineyard is critter control. She loves chasing squirrels and birds—and she catches some, too.

a close-up of a brown dog with white markings


Little Girl used to join in—and even squeezed into squirrel holes—but has slowed down recently due to her age. She still finds the energy to keep any other visiting dogs in line, reminding them that she is still the queen of the vineyard.

a small dog rides with a driver in a UTV

Little Girl

Both Little Girl and Sasha know you would love L & M Vineyard’s great views and delicious wine. They are also okay with you bringing snacks to go along with your wine tasting, as well as dogs and children (if they are well-behaved). They are waiting to greet you when you visit!


Meet Noelani at La Vie Dansante Wines

Noelani’s name tells her story. Very loosely translated from Hawaiian, it means “rain from Heaven,” and it symbolizes the day Noelani arrived. She just showed up at La Vie Dansante Wines one rainy day in January of 2017. Winery owner Jeff Fadness was unable to find the puppy’s owner, and she’s been by his side ever since. Noelani is an interesting mix of Border Collie, Aussie Cattle Dog, Aussie Shepherd, with a little Pit Bull and mutt mixed in.

a white and black dog runs along the vines in a vineyard

Serving as Jeff’s constant companion, Noelani, who’s called Noe (pronounced no-ee) for short, spends her mornings with him in the vineyard, where she chases away critters. In the afternoons, she happily greets visitors to the winery. Noe also enjoys rides in the company truck and playing catch with her favorite football—and always knows where it is.

close-up of a white and black dog with a worn out football in her mouth

Noe is friendly with kids and dogs, and she may give you a little back-up “booty bump” to get you to pet her. But don’t let her puppy dog eyes fool you into thinking she’s hungry—she’s well-fed. While she may beg for a treat, please do not give her any food.

Noe can’t wait to meet you at the tasting room door when you come to visit!


Meet Leo at Lion Ranch Vineyards & Winery

Leo is the top dog at Lion Ranch Vineyards & Winery. He’s a two-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer who came to the Englehardt family from the same breeder that their past two dogs came from. Todd Englehart and his son Jack went to pick out a puppy from the litter, and Leo sat on Jack’s feet several times. They knew he was the one!

a brown and white dog smiling in the vineyard

Leo loves being a part of his family’s winery, spending his days chasing birds through the vines and hunting gophers. After running off his energy through the vineyard, Leo loves to doze in the sunshine.

a brown and white dog with a bottle of wine

Leo wants you to know that he’s a great defensive soccer player and a crafty counter surfer. He also wants you to know his “zoomies” (sudden bursts of canine energy) have clocked in at 25 mph.

Come meet and greet the energetic Leo, dog king of Lion Ranch!


Meet Moose at Moose Mountain Vineyards

In case you thought Moose Mountain Vineyards was named after a real mountain, we should clarify—Moose is a dog, and the vineyard is named after him. Moose is an eight-year-old, gentle-giant rescue dog, with one amber and one blue eye. His picture is even on the back of the wine bottle labels.

a large brown and white dog with one amber and one blue eye rests on the ground

Moose joined vineyard owner Richard Schmidt’s family in 2016, and he has been Rich’s closest companion through all of life’s ups and downs. Moose explores the property regularly and loves to relax on the deck during a sunset tasting.

a large brown and white dog with a vineyard and a sunset behind him

Moose wants everyone to know that all his vines and wines are grown and made with organic and sustainable practices. His family believes that pets can be the best companions and know us at a higher level than even perhaps our family or friends.

Reserve one of Moose Mountain’s sunset tastings and meet this special dog who’s made a name for himself.


Meet Happy, Skipper, & Ginger at Satori Cellars

Satori Cellars is somewhat of a haven for dogs. They have ten dogs on their property! Owners Tom and Sandy Moller have big hearts with enough love for all their beloved canines, having adopted many of them throughout the years. We only have room to highlight just a few here.

three little dogs sit on the lap of a woman on a lounge chair outside

Skipper, Happy, & Ginger with Sandy Moller

Happy is a twelve-year-old apple head Chihuahua who came to Satori Cellars on a rainy winter day by sneaking under the fence. She was the first small dog to arrive at the vineyard. Small and sweet, she is a favorite of visitors.

A special pair of dogs, Skipper and Ginger, also arrived at Satori Cellars one day by walking right through the gate. They must have known they were home. Skipper is a white terrier chihuahua mix, and Ginger is a wire hair terrier. Both enjoy the attention of winery guests. Skipper believes he’s Sandy’s own son (sorry actual human son, Riley!), and you’re likely to find him nearby when she’s serving wine to visitors. Ginger likes to remind everyone she’s the top mama dog, and she’s earned the right–she gave birth to eight pups just a month after arriving at the vineyard. Three of her pups still live at Satori Cellars.

a woman sit on a picnic bench outside surrounded by six dogs

Sandy with a few of their beloved dogs

Happy, Skipper, Ginger, and the other dogs of Satori Cellars want you to know that their vineyard is a fun, colorful, friendly place to hang out and enjoy good vibes with award-winning wine and live music.


Meet Phoebe at Solis Winery

Solis Winery has a little winery dog, Phoebe, a six-year-old Jack Russel terrier. After their former dog passed away and they faced an empty nest, owners Mike and Julie Vanni were ready for another special dog in their lives.

Phoebe is most likely to be found in someone’s lap, but she may also be found nosing around to investigate guests.

a little brown and white dog sits on a wine barrel next to a wine bottle

Phoebe wants you to know her winery is dog-friendly and that Solis Winery has live music and food trucks on most weekends. Come meet small but mighty little Phoebe at Solis Winery!


Winery Cats Matter, Too

Kickers and Jag at Kirigin Cellars

While visitor-friendly winery dogs may hold the spotlight, cats are also an integral part of vineyards and wineries behind the scenes. Many of our local wineries along the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail have cats who play a key part in rodent and pest control. They’re also companions to their owners, staff, and dog brothers and sisters.

two cats in the vineyard

At Kirigin Cellars, Kickers and Jag are a hard-working part of the crew. These cats keep busy attacking rodents and avoiding the occasional wily coyotes. Because Kirigin is a dog-friendly winery (even hosting dog shows in past years), you aren’t likely to see Kickers and Jag out and about. But if you do see them in passing, lift your wine glass in a toast to these dedicated winery workers.

Winery Wyatt at Besson Family Vineyards

a girl smiling and holding onto her white and gray tabby cat

Winery Wyatt, as this 16-year-old winery veteran is lovingly called by his family at Besson Family Vineyards, more than earns his keep at the winery. He hunts rodents, gophers, and moles, which can destroy the vines. After roaming and hunting, Wyatt relaxes with a sunny nap in the vineyard or on the patio, where he also enjoys socializing with guests.

Wyatt came to the Besson family as a rescue, and is best friends with Ava (daughter of Denise Besson, proprietor.) Not only is he useful, but Wyatt is also talented–he can ride a skateboard by himself and do other tricks for treats. The family and guests love Wyatt and can’t imagine the vineyards without him.

a white and gray and black tabby cat sitting on the ground outside


Planning a Dog-Friendly Visit to Gilroy

Bring your own dog for a dog-friendly visit to Gilroy! Start by booking a dog-friendly hotel and plan a visit to our dog-friendly wineries & restaurants. We also have plenty of dog-friendly parks and hiking trails for you to explore with your favorite canine.

Please remember that while most of Gilroy’s wineries are dog-friendly, all dogs visiting the wineries are to be kept on leashes, must be well-behaved, and must stay in designated areas. Please check with each winery ahead of your visit to find out their policies.

For more wonderful things to do in the area, check out the 33 Things to Do In and Around Gilroy. Be sure to stop by the California Welcome Center Gilroy in Gilroy Premium Outlets, Section A, for more suggestions on local activities or to pick out some memorable souvenirs.

a brown dog sitting in a vineyard

Tara, a nine-year-old Pudelpointer, loves to visit our local wineries with her owner, our Tourism & Community Engagement Coordinator. She loves the beautiful outdoor spaces and socializing with the people and other dogs.