Separating “grown-up time” from parenting is crucial to creating a healthy life balance, but today’s busy parents often yearn to include their kids in their recreational activities. According to the Wine Institute, travel and wine-tasting with the little ones is on the rise. That’s good news for those of us who love wineries– and there are plenty of options in California.
Not all wineries cater to kids, however, so we put together a list of family-friendly ones throughout the state that offer special accommodations for kids, including grape juice tastings, play areas, visits with farm animals and outdoor games. These activities keep children happy and engaged while their parents sample the latest vintages.
Hop aboard the complimentary Horse-Drawn Carriage Tour at Landmark Vineyards, located at the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains in Sonoma Valley. This kid-friendly tour, available every Saturday, is fun and educational for the whole family. You will learn about the estate viticulture practices, winemaking techniques and Sonoma wine history while enjoying the view of the beautiful grounds. The expansive lawn gives plenty of space for your kids to run around in and there are picnic areas where you can either bring your own food or build a picnic basket with Landmark’s customized picnic experience.
Explore the caves at Eberle Winery in Paso Robles, where your kids will feel like underground explorers walking through the barrel-filled tunnels. Eberle offers complimentary tastings and public tours as well as a scenic deck overlooking the 38-acre Estate Vineyard with the Santa Lucia Mountains in the background. This dog-friendly winery also has bocce courts and corn hole to keep the kids entertained, plus live music and food trucks on weekends.
Tastings are for kids, too, at Castoro Cellars, where kids are served grape juice for their own “wine-tasting” experience in Paso Robles. This kid-friendly, pet-friendly winery has plenty of outdoor games and activities, including corn hole, giant Jenga and a fun, yet challenging game of disc golf. The weekends bring concerts, so you can boogie with your family outside in the beautiful scenery while enjoying a picnic of your favorite foods.
Your kids will love exploring the halls of this massive replica of an Italian castle at Castello di Amorosa, located in the Napa Valley. Here a guided tour will take you through the torture chamber, armory and grand barrel room. In the main tasting room, your kids will also be part of the fun with a cup of grape juice, coloring pages and crayons. The Napa Valley winery has animals on the property, including a funky breed of chickens, goats, sheep and peacocks that roam freely around the property.
Buttonwood Winery is a beautiful quaint winery in Solvang graced by rows of almond, olive, and peach trees. Resident farm animals include lambs, chickens and goats. Every week the winery sells its seasonal newly harvested organic fruits and vegetables— heirloom tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers of all kinds, onions, squash and surprises each year. Buttonwood is well-known for its delicious organic peaches, a treat you may even find at your local farmer’s market. Once a month, the winery hosts live music in the garden and a different food truck. A family- friendly benefit for the local school garden program will be held July 20, and will include a concert in a private area of the vineyard.
Your kids will love getting to know the resident farm animals at Penny Royal Farm in Mendocito County as they sample their own tasting of grape juice, which is complimentary for kids under the age of 5. Farm tours, featuring wine and cheese, are hosted twice daily from May through October. There is a large outdoor patio area with games and activities for kids.
Meyer Family Cellars is a beautiful property in a perfect spot to taste wine while your kids run wild in the outdoor play area that comes with a slide and swings. The 180 acres situated in the picturesque Yorkville Highlands of Mendocino County provide the family with some old-school fun for kids, such as catching frogs and crickets in a glass. Meyer also boasts a large picnic area and is pet-friendly. Check out the website to see all the family friendly events coming up.
Your family will surely want to meet “Topper,” Six Sigma Ranch and Winery’s potbelly pig, who loves to have his ears rubbed. The ranch, located in beautiful Lake County less than an hour drive north of Napa Valley, also has goats, sheep, a pony, a horse, cattle and dogs. With 4,300 acres of picnic table and picnic areas, there’s enough fun on this beautiful ranch property for the whole family. On July 15, folks can enjoy a big family-friendly launch party of the winery’s giant games that include giant Connect Four and giant Jenga. They also host bicycle races, and have mountain biking for your teens to be a part of the fun too.
If you’re a movie buff, you will love the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Sonoma County. Here you will get to explore all sorts of cool memorabilia, from movies such as “Dracula” and “The Godfather” while soaking up the sun with your kids in one of the swimming pools totaling 3,600 square feet connected by a unique “swim-through,” where small pool jets create a water bridge to swim under. The kids will love exploring the Winery Park’s teepee, located next to the performing arts pavilion. The winery also holds signature events for kids throughout the year, including an annual Easter/spring celebration, the Petite Picasso art event and the Harvest & Halloween Carnival.