Make a wine tasting trip a treasured memory for your kids, not a chore to be endured with parents.
We won’t deny that one of our favourite things to do on vacation is a wine tasting tour. Just because you have kids now doesn’t mean it’s a hobby or simple pleasure that you should now dismiss.
Wine tasting days need not be boring for the kids! And the earlier you embrace this and involve the family, the more inclined they will be enthusiastic to join you on a day out and not moan at the mention of a winery stop.
We’re going to share with you here all the steps we take to make sure wine tasting is a fun, safe and enjoyable experience for all of the family.
Delegate the driving work
It goes without saying you shouldn’t drink and drive, so carefully planning this aspect is the most important part of a successful family winery road trip. There are a number of ways to tackle this:
- Pick your designated driver at the outset, not “see whose had the most after a few stops”.
- Know your quantities!! GENERALLY SPEAKING 5 samples = 1 standard drink, but it will hugely vary by winery how much they pour! Ordering one small glass might be a safer bet than trying a flight of wines.
- Take an organised tour with a driver. Not only does this have the benefit of none of your party needing to miss out on the tasting action (or the poor non-drinker in your group being saddled with all the driving), you will gain a wealth of knowledge about your region and the wines you’ll be tasting.
- Organized tours are also great at picking out the more family-friendly options and can arrange the most appropriate stops for you. Booking a private tour for your family or small group may cost a little more, but can be worth its weight in gold if they can produce a tailored itinerary for you allowing longer stops at the more family-friendly establishments.
- If the wine itself and making purchasers really is your priority, it may be worth arranging a separate day for this. Enjoy a family day, but then see if your accommodation perhaps can organise a babysitting day for you as well so a “grown-ups only” day can be thoroughly enjoyed.
Keeping the kids entertained on a wine tasting tour
It is superb when you can mix by a wine tasting with a relaxed family environment, lunch, a playground and maybe a bit of live entertainment – but let’s be honest; stumbling upon all of these at every destination on a multi-stop wine tasting trip – you really have hit the jackpot!
Do be prepared that not all wineries are built alike and you may well need contigency plans in place.
- Read reviews and take on advice which wineries cater best to families. Not all wineries are well-designed with kids in mind, nor will they welcome a family group unannounced. Avoid disappointment by researching first and selecting a route with some flexibility.
- Especially in peak tourism periods, pre-book a lunch venue to avoid disappointment.
- Ask the staff if there is non-alcoholic grape juice or a “water tasting” the kids could do alongside you. Even if not advertised, we have had many wineries quickly pull together and extra special jug for the kids to enjoy with some plastic cups and go above and beyond to make families welcome.
- Bring along a busy bag and a few extra snacks for the kids. Not everywhere on your route may be ideally set up for families but doesn’t mean every stop needs to be playgrounds and swings. Having a few extra special treats and activities up your sleeve may just help you get through the day.
- Can you join forces with another family? Kids simply love having other kids to play with and a great chance for parents and kids alike to enjoy a big day out.
- Try build in at least one stop per day that’s exclusively about kids – lookout for ice creameries, candy stores or playgrounds that can punctuate your winery stops.
Educate your kids about wine
- Involve the children in what you’re doing; how you talk about the wine, the growing of the grapes, the harvesting and bottling process – the secrets of “Mummy Juice” need not be a mystery!!
- Seek out places that may offer behind-the-scenes tours (just check age limits and appropriate footwear for these sorts of tours).
- Check if the local tourist board has activity leaflets for kids.
General safety precautions at wineries with kids
- Do plan in a proper meal stop to your day. Nibbling on cheese and biscuits as you go will certainly help but get everyone’s stomach properly lined to fit in a big day.
- Never let your kids stray into the vineyards or touch the vines uninvited. Even if staff say it’s OK to wander in the vineyards (always check first!), teach your children good etiquette at an early age on what is allowed.
- It is essential to note that on most active wineries, you will find they have a dam or large body of water for irrigation that is unlikely to be fenced, keep an eye on children at ALL TIMES.
Perhaps the most important to ensure the success of future wine tasting trips, known when to call it a day.
Just because you want “one more”, tired, cranky kids are no help to anyone. You are better spreading things out over a few days if possible so there is no rush to get through everything. Balance wine tasting stops with kid-friendly stops and enjoy the best of both worlds.
Coming soon! Our guides to kid-friendly wineries around the world
Mama Loves A Drink advocates quality over quantity. Always drink responsibly!