Have you ever thought about bringing your cocker spaniel to California? If so, this episode of the California Now Podcast is mandatory listening. Host Soterios Johnson discusses dog-friendly travel with Erin Ballinger of BringFido.com, and she offers guidance for every stage of the trip.

"If you're going to fly with your dog," Ballinger says, "you're going to want to book a nonstop direct flight and fly on a weekday when airports are less busy. You're also going to need to book early and book your dog's ticket directly. Instead of booking online like we all do now, you're actually going to have to go back in time and call the airline directly to reserve both of your tickets and your seats on the same ticket at the same time."

Ballinger provides a wide variety of practical advice, and even reminds pet lovers to pack your pooch's favorite blanket or toy so he or she will feel comfortable during the journey. 

Johnson also speaks with whale watching veteran Patti Schick of Hornblower Cruises. The California coastline provides an exceptional opportunity to get up close and personal with the giants of the deep, especially during Pacific gray whale migration

"The whales that we see off Southern California," she notes, "can range from the minke whales, which are a smaller baleen whale about 20-25 feet long, all the way up to the mid-sized whales which are about 40-50 feet long. Those are the humpback and the gray whales. And then you get the fin whales which are about 70 feet long. A blue whale in the northern hemisphere gets to about 80-90 feet long."

The episode wraps up in Calaveras County, which was the state’s largest producer of wine from 1890 to 1900. Johnson discusses the region’s winemaking traditions with Stephen Kautz, President of Ironstone Vineyards. Kautz, a true insider, explains why the area in and around Murphys creates some of the country’s best grape-growing conditions. Kautz also takes listeners on a virtual tour of Ironstone’s operation as well as some of his favorite places to visit in Gold Country.