Tips for Wine Tasting with the Family

kids enjoying the petting zoo

kids enjoying the petting zoo

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?

May 10, 2014 |

Self-Guided “Day in Wine Country” Tour Itinerary (Westside)


1344 Park St, Downtown Paso Robles
Panolivo is a great place to start your Paso Robles adventure!  A family run French Bistro with an in house bakery, the owners are hands on and everything is made from scratch, including the yogurt. Though the quality is certainly upscale, the emphasis is that of a family restaurant complete with a very comprehensive kids menu. Whether you crave fresh pastries or the perfect omelette with your latte, this undoubtably will not be your last visit.

Starting on the Westside

Castoro Cellars
1315 North Bethel Rd, Templeton
888-Dam-Fine (326-3463)
The owner’s nickname is “Beaver” and Castoro is the Italian equivalent, hence the “Dam Fine Wine” motto.  They have concerts here year round with some complimentary shows in the Summer months. This winery has one of the longest tasting lists in Paso Robles, so pick your tastes carefully.

For the kids Varietal grape juice. Lush picnic area with access to 30-plus year old Cobble Creek zinfandel vineyard. Hunter, the tasting room cat.

For the adults Initially known for their Zinfandels, they also make a great Pinot Grigio and Tempranillo. Finish up with their Estate Grown Late Harvest Zinfandel served with dark chocolate.

Warning This winery gets very crowded late in the day and there a lot of breakable items for sale in the tasting room.

Pipestone Vineyards
2040 Niderer Road
Paso Robles, 93446

Draft Horses, Feng Shui, Certified Wildlife Habitat and excellent Rhone varietals is reason enough to visit this small family owned winery. This family focused winery shows respect for the land by minimizing it’s carbon footprint and living in harmony with nature. They also make wine in the traditional method, by growing premium grapes and letting the wine express the terrior it is grown from.

For the kids Tour the grounds and learn about the Wildlife Habitat.

For the adults The Grenache, dry Rosé and the red Rhône blend.

Warning The Pipestone daughters, Grace and Gwendolyn are wily jokesters!

Lunch: On special occasions Jeff will have his wood-fired pizza oven baking some of the best thin crust that will pass your lips!

Shamel Park (at Moonstone Beach)
5455 Windsor Blvd, Cambria
Head over to the coast for a little refreshing walk on the beach. Only 20 minutes from Paso Robles westside wineries in the village of Cambria, here’s a nice park with a wind protected playground and lots of grass. Situated only steps from the beach along Santa Rosa Creek. The beach is a treasure trove of moonstones and driftwood with lots of bird-watching to take in as well. Picnic table and BBQ grills are available at a first come basis.

Harmony Cellars
3255 Harmony Valley Road
Harmony, California 93435
Open Daily 10 – 5pm
Summer Hours 10 – 5:30pm
Children and dog friendly feel free to roam the gardens and relax in the gazebo. While this family run winery excels in all its offering,  They also offer Friday twilight hours during the Summer months where they stay open until 7pm and feature snacks and live music to harmonize with their vino.

For the kids  Let the kids create sidewalk art, chalk is provided!

For the adults  The two “must tries” are the Diamond Reserve Pinot Gris and Diamond Reserve Aria Meritage style blend.

Warning  Lots of tempting gift items are within a curious hand’s reach.

HarmonyWalk the historic old dairy village of Harmony  A Quaint old town with a rotating selection of artisan craftwork. The two longtime businesses are the Harmony Glassworks and Harmony Pottery. Adult supervision is a must at these places of business, but exposure to the arts is important!

Harmony Glassworks
If you time it right, you can see live glassblowing! This is an art that will amaze all ages.
2180 Old Creamery Road, Harmony, CA 93435
Open Daily 9 – 5:30pm

Harmony Pottery
Established in 1973, this gallery features the work of over 25 talented ceramic artists and candle artisans.
Downtown, Harmony, CA 93435
Open Daily 10-5pm






Robin’s Restaurant
4095 Burton Drive Cambria, CA 93428
Open daily 11-9pm  Sunday Brunch 11-3pm
Inspiration drawn from world cuisines, this family friendly gem cooks-up handcrafted, original gastronomical creations that won’t break the budget. This is the one restaurant that will make almost all diners happy, whether it’s seafood, chicken, lamb or an adventurous vegetarian meal you’re looking for, you will find it here. Great children’s menu as well. Tip #1: Early Dinner, offered 4-4:50pm. Tip #2: Ask for a table on the patio, overlooking the garden, it is covered and heated and won’t stress you out if the kids are a little boisterous. Robin’s offers a daily vegetarian soup as well as a delicious Salmon Bisque, there’s gluten-free dishes on the menu as well. Tip #3: Save room for one of their homemade desserts, yum!

Dinner option #2 (If you’d rather eat closer to Paso Robles lodging)
El Vino Mexican Restaurant
1510 Park, Downtown Paso Robles
Don’t be fooled by the exterior, El Vino is a Mexican restaurant that tailors itself to the wine country family without losing its authentic roots. Featuring a great salsa with super thin, crisp chips are a great start. Order the made-at-the-table guacamole to fully realize the experience. The entrees are made to order and use meat-free sauces as to give the health-conscious or vegetarian diner more choices. There is a large vegetarian section on the menu and it even offers tofu as a meat substitute!  Of course the usual mexican fare is available; burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, etc. but made with freshness usually only seen in kitchens South of the border. Specials vary from grilled chicken breast to scallops with mushrooms and spinach.

July 20, 2011 |

Half Day of Family Fun


You should be able to hit two wineries and enjoy a nice lunch before you have to head on down the road.

First pick which side of the Paso Robles appellation you want to explore: east-side or west-side.

Wine Tasting:

East-side: Eberle Winery, Tobin James Winery

West-side: Castoro Cellars, Pipestone Vineyards


Berry Hill Bistro

The Berry Hill Bistro is located in Paso Robles on the town square and park. It is also centrally located between the two wine trail and freeways for travel convenience.

Fun for the kids:

Let the kids run about the park after lunch and take them to Cold Stone Creamery for dessert. They will hopefully reward you with some quiet-time when the sugar wears off and the road lulls them to dreamland!

July 14, 2011 |

Pit Stop in Paso Robles

Paso Robles

Paso RoblesPaso Robles is the halfway point between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the perfect place to pull off the road and give the kids a break.  Depending on how much time you want to spend, here are some suggestions to break up your trip and keep everyone happy.

Pit Stop #1 – The Quickie with Lunch

Exit at 46 East

Lunch at Big Bubba’s Bad BBQ.  You can put the kids in the jail cells but you can’t leave them there.  Burn off some steam on the mechanical bull.  Fill your gas tank at one of the many gas stations next door.

Head out 46 East to Tobin James Cellars.  The kids can play arcade games or pet Cisco the dog while you taste a few of the excellent wines.  Sparkling grape juice for the kids and designated driver.

If you need to head back west to hwy 101, and if you have a little bit more time, pull into Eberle Winery.  The kids will burn off more energy on the really fun cave tour or bocce ball court and you will love the wines and view from the deck.


Pit Stop #2 – A Taste and a Park

If you are just passing through, but would still like to get a “taste” of the area, here are some options:

Winery: Depending on which way you are going, Castoro Cellars on highway 46 west (heading to Cambria) or Eberle on highway 46 east (headed toward the San Joaquin valley). For highway 101 travelers, either winery is less than 3 miles from the freeway and Paso Robles.

Stretch your legs and treat your darling(s) to something sweet at the Paso Robles city park (on the square) and a stop at the Powell’s Sweet Shop. The park features a playground and grass area with a gazebo bandstand shaded by towering mature trees.

Generous parking is found nearby and restrooms are available near the playground. In addition to multitudes of candy, the gelato is what my family yearns for, as it is of the highest quality and goes down silky smooth.

July 14, 2011 |
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