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 “Day in Sonoma Wine Country” (close to Sonoma proper)



Breakaway Cafe
19101 Sonoma Highway, Sonoma, CA 95476
This classed up diner sports a lengthy bounty of a breakfast menu fit for any appetite.

23355 Millerick Road, Sonoma, CA 95476
Cline is known for Zinfandel, of which they make many, as well as primarily Rhone varietals. Visit the California Missions Museum while you’re at Cline, this is especially great for kids at the 4th grade level for they will study the missions as a part of California state history.

For the kids:
Farm animals and the California Missions Museum
For the adults Zinfandel and lots of it!  The Rhone varietals are delicious as well.
Warning Can get very busy late in the day and on weekends. Go early and avoid the intoxication and the crowd!

23355 Millerick Road, Sonoma, CA 95476
This 70 acre organic vineyard is situated on an old rodeo grounds which really makes Larson Family Winery feel every bit like historic California.

For the kids Friendly dogs and farm animals. Bocce ball court.
For the adults Must try the Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Taste the Late Harvest Gewurztraminer to sweeten the deal!
Warning Bumpy road


The Sonoma Cheese Factory
2 Spain Street Sonoma California 95476
Open 8:30AM to 5:30PM 7 Days A Week
The cheese itself is worth the trip, but The Sonoma Cheese Factory offers delicious sandwiches, salads and homemade fudge!  Order ahead and have a picnic in the park.  The beautiful 8.5 acre Sonoma Plaza park offers plenty of amenities and is the largest town square in all of California! However, in seeking a quieter setting, we chose to enjoy our picnic on the grounds of the Bartholomew Park Winery.


The Chocolate Cow
452 1st St E Ste F Sonoma, CA 95476
Hidden in an alley on the east side of the plaza is one of the best ice cream/gelato experiences in all of California! Yes, they have chocolates and shaved ice too, but sometimes only a cone will do. Try one of their coffee drinks for the after lunch pick-up, I had an espresso shake that kept me going until dinnertime!

Sonoma Plaza Park
Address: Center of Sonoma
Sonoma Plaza Park is the historic, civic, and social center of Sonoma, not to mention the largest town square in California. Historic landmarks like the Sonoma Mission and Barracks surround the Sonoma Plaza. If you stay in Sonoma, chances are you will be within blocks of this large small town park. There are many great restaurants and delis to pick up fine food, cheese and wine for a picnic in the park. This is a great place for families and romantics.

Train Town
20264 Broadway Sonoma, CA 95476
The kids have been patient, they’ve been supportive in your search for good wine, now it’s their turn! Who doesn’t love trains anyway?


Morton’s Warm Springs Resort
1651 Warm Springs Rd  Glen Ellen CA 95442
This family focused establishment has three swimming pools filled with naturally warm mineral water, great for swimming and relaxing!

Bartholomew Park Winery
1000 Vineyard Lane Sonoma, CA 95476
Located at the base of the Mayacamas Mountain range, this slightly off the beaten track boutique winery excels in both its Sauvignon Blanc and their Cabernet Sauvignon.  I found the grounds gorgeous, perfect for picnics.  There are three miles of hiking trails to work off the uncontainable energy of the kids and the effects of the wine on the adults.

For the kids Hiking, ponds, museum
For the adults Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon
Warning Can get very crowded on weekends and there are some fragile items on display in the tasting room.


The Girl and the Fig
Address: 110 West Spain Street, Sonoma, Ca
Hours: daily 11:30 am – 10:00 pm, late night brasserie menu until 11pm Fri-Sat, Sunday Brunch from 10:00 am
A longtime local favorite, The Girl and the Fig offers California style French-fusion cuisine. The prices are fair considering your in one of the most sought after restaurants in Sonoma wine country.

After Dinner:

Sebastiani Theatre
476 First Street east Sonoma, Ca. 95476
Program info 707-996-2020
Office: 707-996-9756
Catch a movie! Situated on the plaza surrounding the downtown park, this historic theatre offers an eclectic blend of cinema and live entertainment! View classic and foreign films, magic, ballet, opera, musical theatre and even belly dancing!


Best Western Plus Sonoma Valley Inn
550 Second St. West
Sonoma, CA 95476
Ph: 707-938-9200
Fax: 707-938-0935
Two words best describe this Best Western property: Location and Value. Though not the most up to date hotel in Sonoma, its value is in the closeness (two blocks) to the Sonoma Plaza and price wise, it’s likely the best family bargain in the valley. Features hot tub, small pool and a continental breakfast. We grabbed a bagel on the way out to keep the kids happy on our way to our “real” breakfast at the Breakaway Cafe.


San Francisco North / Petaluma KOA
20 Rainsville Road
Petaluma, CA 94952
Located only 14 miles from Sonoma, this well maintained family park offers 312 spaces with full hook-ups, cabins, tent sites and more amenities than I can list here!

Other Attractions


Salmon Creek
A wide expanse of beach at the point where Salmon Creek meets the ocean makes this a great spot for families. Surf, skim-board, or just splash in the calm waveless waters of the creek. Just north of Bodega Bay on Highway One.

Portuguese Beach
Three miles north of Bodega Bay on Highway 1, is one of the best beaches for walking and surf wading on a hot summer night. One of the Sonoma Coast’s most expansive beaches there is lots of sand between the steep interior cliffs and the ocean’s edge.


Jack London State Historic Park
2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen, Ca. 95442
The park celebrates the writer of the famous works: “Call of the Wild,”  “White Fang,” “Sea Wolf,” among others. Great trails for all levels of hiking abilities.

August 22, 2011 |
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