To help you have a successful wine tasting trip with your family, we’ve put together some suggestions to help you be prepared for your adventure.
1. Designate a Driver
Before you even turn in the driveway designate a driver. The designated driver should keep the children occupied and away from the wine tasting area. Go outside if at all possible. The gardens, vineyards and natural scenery are sometimes worth the trip in itself.
2. Bring Supplies
Don’t expect a winery to have everything your family needs for your outing. Bring your own supplies: water, milk, snacks, diapers/wipes, sweaters, small toys, games, (coloring)books. We have a filter for tasting rooms who sell food/snacks if you want to fit them in your trip and not have to worry about packing lunch, but as all parents know, kids can be picky eaters and you know best what snacks to bring to keep your crew going.
3. Respect the (Adult Centered) Environment
As with most places of business, you want to be respectful to the people and the property you are visiting. This is amplified when around alcohol as many visitors expect only adults to be present. Many of the tasting rooms have lovely and fragile gift shops. Before going in, layout some ground rules for the gift shop: Make them understand that there are delicate and expensive items on display. Enforce “Looking not touching” or institute the one finger rule, always supervised. It is not acceptable to let your children browse on their own in most of these gift shops that usually have fine art and fragile glassware.
4. Take Turns
If there are two adults traveling, a divide and conquer mentality works well. Inquire as to what is available for the children then one of you step away from the bar while the other tastes. This website should provide most of what you need to know about what family friendly things each winery offers. Many tasting rooms have animals, tours, gardens and even games for you to enjoy while the taster gets their turn. When the wine tasting session is over, the taster can share what they liked and what the other adult(s) may prefer. This is the time to switch roles and the designated driver gets to Sniff, Swirl and Taste a couple of selections. (-BUT PLEASE SPIT! Sober is sexy and so are responsible parents.)
Some tips for specific age groups in wineries:
Babies/Toddlers: You’ll be able to find a nice spot to nurse somewhere on the grounds, if not there is always the car. A walk around the grounds or vineyard usually calms a fussy baby. Please, take your dirty diapers with you, for some reason the smell conflicts with the wine “Hmm, I detect a hint of loaded nappy…yuck!” Toddlers love texture, let them touch all the different leaves and flowers in the garden. Hunt butterflies and lizards!
Pre-adolescent: This is the curious age. Sometimes wineries will offer grape juice, coloring books, sidewalk chalk, farm animals to visit. For the young explorer, a tour of the winery and vineyard. I always keep a ball and Frisbee in the car for just these types of situations.
Teens: This is a great opportunity to teach teens about moderation and how wine pairs with food. If the winery is slow, they may let an older teen stay with the wine taster to learn about wine and take in the aroma. But in no circumstance should any child be allowed to taste any wine in a tasting room — no matter what you do at home. Of course if the teen has no interest in wine and you’ve exhausted all the other options the winery offers, there is always their smart phone, tablet or perhaps an actual book! Photo journalism: Just imagine, all your winery visits documented by your talented teen! Can you say blackmail? Seriously though, there are usually quite a few interesting photo ops around the grounds, from micro shots of flowers to macro shots of the vineyards and surrounds.
What tips can you share that have made your winery visit with kids work?