Lori Zaino

9 Tips For Planning The Perfect Family Wine Country Vacation

So you’ve decided to start a family. Romantic, tranquil afternoons sipping Malbec as the sun sets are long gone. An easy stroll through a Italian vineyard, Chianti in hand, where the only sound heard is the rustling of the grapes in the wind seems like a distant memory. But your wine tasting and traveling days don’t have to end just because you’ve had kids.

You can still plan a wine-tasting trip with the children in tow, it may take just a little bit of extra curation and thought. Here are some tips for creating a successful family wine trip.

Before You Go

Pick the right destination and include other activities

Choosing the right destination is the key to a successful family wine trip. Visiting wineries in California so afterwards you can stop at Disneyland is perfect if your kids are in primary school. Those with children under two should take advantage and fly further while plane tickets are free (or at least, cheaper). If you have a toddler, you can head to Spain to taste wine, where it’s normal to have kids underfoot at restaurants, wineries or local bars. Some wine areas in Europe even have activities for children so families can combine their wine trips with other attractions. For example, certain vineyards in the Bordeaux region of France offer activities like treasure hunts, picnics and playgrounds.

Bringing Kids Along To Wine Country | Winetraveler.com

Stay organized

It goes without saying that organization is key. Selecting your itinerary in advance is important. This way, you’ll know the timing of tours so you can properly plan transport and mealtimes. Plus, confirming that your chosen wineries allow children is a step that you can’t risk forgetting.

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Pack right

Sometimes it’s all about having items that will calm and entertain your children so you can sip your wine in peace. Don’t forget to pack toys, games, coloring books and most importantly, snacks that you can take on your wine tour. Seeing your kids have fun will make it easier for you (and them) to enjoy your wine experience.

Invite friends along

Traveling with other couples and their children can be great fun. Not only will the kids keep each other entertained, you’ll be able to book private tours at a cheaper price just for your group, meaning there’s less of a chance you (ahem, your kids) might bother other wine-tasting patrons. 

How To Plan The Perfect Family Wine Vacation | Winetraveler.com

While You’re There

Involve your kids

It may be easier for your kids to behave if you explain the days events to them. Going a step further, explaining (always in kid terms) how grapes are turned into a special potion can be interesting for them when redacted as a story. Making the tasting time a game for your family will be exciting — have your kids collect corks, count vines or see how many different shades of grape colors they can find.

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Be patient and adaptable

If your child is making a scene — take them out until they become calm. Wineries will be more open to having children come along with their parents (and others, more excepting of families bringing their children) if they see that kids are well-behaved. Be ready for plans to change if your child is sick or just can’t calm down during a tasting. Patience is key, as you likely already know as a parent.

Ignore the judgement

No matter how angelic your children are, there will likely be tasting patrons who don’t believe your children should be at a winery, around alcohol, etc. Ignore them and carry on.

But don’t drink too much wine or drive

It goes without saying that wine-tasting with your kids may be different experience than without. The type of tastings where you get pleasantly tipsy and take delightful afternoon siesta should be saved when you can go sans kids. While you should be able to enjoy your wine tasting, don’t take things to far — now you’ve got some others in tow besides yourself to think about. And remember, never drink and drive.

After Your Trip

Communicate with your family

Once you’ve returned from your family wine tasting trip, think about what worked and what didn’t. Talk to your kids about what they liked and what they didn’t. This will help you to plan more successful family wine trips in the future.

Cheers!


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Lori Zaino
Lori Zaino is a freelance travel, food, fashion and wine writer based in Madrid. You can likely find her on a plane jetting off to an exotic destination, eating tapas or sipping a glass of Rioja wine.
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