Family Tips for Event Season at the Wineries


The vines are growing that grassy green first growth of the new season and that means special event season has started at the wineries! Sure, people get married at wineries, I did (and it was the best), but what I’m focusing on here are the events that are open to the public: Wine Festivals, Concerts, Cooking Demonstrations, Food and Wine Pairings, BBQ’s, Art Shows. even Plays and Melodramas. If you are lucky, you may find a winery or region that is showcasing many of these attractions on the same weekend.

20120506-b-paso-robles-wine-festivalFestivals and Concerts
Wine Festivals that are taking place at a central location are really more of an adults only event, but there is usually much going on at individual tasting rooms as well. These events sometimes cost a few dollars, but you can typically get a discount for the designated driver. Check in advance to find the wineries that are the most welcoming to kids and make the wines you prefer. Then you can pick and choose where you will eat and where you might want to stay for the live music. Many wineries have complimentary live music on the weekends. The kids really love concerts, the energy is palpable and we love to expose them to different styles of music. Get there early enough to find a spot under some shady trees. I suggest sitting near the back of the crowd. That way the kids can get loud and dance around and you won’t spend the afternoon apologizing. The businesses really appreciate the courtesy and you will have a more relaxing time of it.

Be Prepared
Always bring lots of water! Take snacks for the kids as well, you never know if they will like what is available to eat or when the caterer will run out of food. Keep some sweatshirts in the car just in case a cool breeze starts blowing off the Pacific. Hats and sunblock are mandatory at any outdoor event on the West Coast. Bring folding chairs, a blanket if the show goes into the evening. Is it picnic style? Some wineries allow you to bring your own sustenance. Just don’t bring your own wine! Speaking of, I aways buy a bottle to support the winery and if we really like it, more to take home. Remember, most wineries discount by the half and full case. I know of a few that take a little more off with a multiple case orders as well. If you are smitten, try their Wine Club. You’ll be given a heavier discount and receive wines delivered to your door (most states) several times a year.

It’s about Family Fun
          Don’t forget to stop by to make your winery event choices painless and easy. With a little pre-planning and preparation, you will create a memorable event for the whole family.

April 24, 2014 |

Self-Guided Wine Tour Itinerary Napa Valley (St. Helena/Calistoga)



Gillwoods Cafe
1313 Main Street, St. Helena
Homestyle breakfast is available all day long at this charming Napa Valley favorite. We had the Breakfast Casserole, Huevos Rancheros, and the kids shared an order of Gillwoods Granola Pancakes and gulped it down scarcely taking a breath! Our portions were large enough to share, so no one went hungry.


Castello di Amorosa
4045 N. Saint Helena Hwy 29, Calistoga, Ca. 94515
The Castello di Amorosa is built like an authentic castle, from real stone and hand wrought iron. Inspired to resemble a 13th century medieval Tuscan-style castle, the forty million dollars and thirteen years it took to build produced a remarkable place. Children are restricted to the early morning tours and must be over five years of age and are discounted for minors. Check their website for the schedule. The tour with tasting takes about two hours. While parents enjoy tasting Castello di Amorosa wines, the children can enjoy coloring and sipping grape juice. Kids misbehaving? Remind them that they do have a medieval torture chamber, hint, hint!

For the kids: Castle Tour, Grape Juice
For the adults: Dry Gewürztraminer, Il Brigante Cab/Merlot blend
Warning: Keep the young ones close, this place is huge!

Lunch & Dessert:

Dean & Deluca 
607 South St. Helena Hwy 29 St. Helena, CA 94574

Ready for a gourmet picnic? Yes, you can make it kid friendly, this place has everything!

This specialty grocer features an immense selection of handcrafted products and artisan foods and many items are available for tasting. Whether it’s the cheese, chocolate, meats or baked goods; you will find plenty to awaken your appetite! Their deli offers sandwiches to order and freshly made soups.  Located within sight of Hwy 29 and having ample parking is a big plus.  They have some tables outside, but we went across the street to V. Sattui  to enjoy our picnic…


V Sattui
1111 White Lane St. Helena, CA 94574

With over 100 years of family winemaking history, V Sattui combine traditional winemaking methods with technologically advanced winemaking equipment and techniques. The Preston Vineyard Cabernet may be the star here, but I found the Carsi Vineyard Chardonnay a classic Napa white and the Zinfandels made me yearn for a hearty lunch. Is the family hungry too? Well, they happen to have a dynamite deli that caters to all tastes at reasonable (for wine country) prices. With over 200 artisan cheeses, hand carved meats and locally baked breads, you will no doubt find what you are looking for. Dog friendly as well.

For the kids: Numerous picnic areas and food stuff
For the adults:  Preston Vineyard Cabernet, finish with the Madeira
Warning:  Can get very crowded with tour groups


A word to the wise: This attraction is privately owned and may be experienced as both a resource of natural beauty or as a tourist trap depending upon your expectations.

Old Faithful Geyser of California

1299 Tubbs Lane Calistoga CA 94515

The geyser goes off every 10 minutes and lasts for about 4 – 5 minutes, now it’s no Old Faithful, but it is fun and the back-drop is beautiful for pics.  There is also a petting zoo to take up the time between eruptions. See if you can cause a fainting goat to actually faint. No, that would be cruel.


St Clement

2867 St. Helena Highway North

St. Helena, California

Hours: 10am to 5pm



A lovely boutique winery with views to match the wines therein. This property was once owned by famed vintner Charles Krug and later Sapporo Brewery, which is why their flagship wine is a backwards spelling of Sapporo. The tasting room is in a gothic Victorian built by Fritz Rosenbaum as a winery in 1878 and has historic status. Dog friendly patio is a nice place for the designated driving parent to hang outside with the kids and take in the view. Add a cheese and chocolate pairing to your tasting flight and share the spoils with your patient family!

For the kids:  Children’s play area complete with chalkboard walls and toys
For the adults: Orropas Bordeaux blend, the Cabs and Sauvignon Blanc
Warning: Small tasting room


Pizzeria Tra Vigne

1016 Main Street, St. Helena, CA  94574


Sunday – Thursday:  11:30 – 9:00       Friday + Saturday:  11:30 – 9:30


The pizzas have a thin crust and are finished to perfection in a wood-fired brick oven.  Piadines, oven baked flatbread with a salad on top are a nice alternative to traditional pizza. You fold and eat them like a giant flatbread taco. They also have a great minestrone soup and pastas.  Corkage is free here, so bring a bottle in from your day’s bounty to enjoy with your dinner.
After Dinner:
The White Barn

2727 Sulphur Springs Ave.

St. Helena, CA 94574

The White Barn is a performing arts theatre which resides in an 1872 Carriage House that was once part of U.S. Civil War General Erasmus Keyes’ home and winery estate. See their list of upcoming events to gauge whether your kids would like the current offering.


El Bonita Motel
195 Main Street (Hwy 29) St. Helena, California 94574


Conveniently located and priced right, this family friendly motel has all you need while staying in wine country: pool, jacuzzi and continental breakfast included. Tip: Request a room in the back as to lessen the noise from the highway.


Bothe-Napa Valley State Park

3801 St. Helena Highway North

Calistoga, California 94515


Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, located in the heart of the beautiful Napa Valley wine country, offers camping, picnicking, swimming, and well-marked hiking trails for most skill levels that go through stands of coastal redwoods as well as forests of douglas-fir, tanoak, and madrone. Pool is open during Summer.

Next to the park’s visitor center is the Native American Garden which displays some of the plants important to the first people of this area.
Tip: Try and get a site along the creek. Beware: Lots of poison oak!
Other Attractions
Bothe-Napa Valley State Park
-See details above
Day pass $8

Activity: Hike
Skyline Wilderness Park

2201 Imola Avenue

Napa, Ca. 94559


Summer hours: 8a-7p

Located just minutes from downtown Napa, this large, rustic park offers miles of hiking and mountain biking trails and an intricate 18-hole frisbee golf course.
Day pass $5

Beware: Dogs are not allowed on the trails. Watch out for the horse manure!


October 3, 2011 |
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