The past couple Sundays, I’ve skipped brunch, packed up my pre-schooler, and headed south for a wine tasting. After experiencing the delightful magic of kid-friendly wineries, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to waiting in a brunch line.
My family resides in South Beaverton, and to my absolute delight, Washington County has an assortment of nearby wineries. Unbeknownst to me, I’m a mere 10-minute drive from lush fields, mountain views, and helpful wine connoisseurs. Oh, and did I mention I can bring my kids along?
Kid-friendly winery #1: Alloro Vineyard
With architecture reminiscent of Italy, Alloro Vineyard was our first stop. Since we got there slightly earlier than our friends, my daughter and I explored the immaculate garden and said hello to the friendly, orange house cat.
Our friends arrived, and the tasting began as the kids entertained themselves (shockingly) with flowers, fountains, and resident dog, Mag-Pie. For $20, we sampled five of Alloro’s current offerings. My personal favorite was the 2015 Pinot Noir (so much so that I purchased a bottle for later).
As we started the tasting, our friendly hostess encouraged us to visit the chestnut tree grove. The grove offers the perfect well-shaded spot to hang out with kiddos. Families can bring a picnic, purchase a bottle (or two) of vino, and spend the day enjoying the space. With trees to climb, animals to see, and the ability to roam among the grapes, our group of parents agreed this was a fantastic kid-friendly winery.
Kid-friendly winery #2: Hawk’s View Winery
The next weekend, we met some friends at the appropriately named Hawk’s View Winery. You can’t miss the gorgeous view of Mt. Hood. With plenty of space to run and ample shaded seating, the adults enjoyed a tasting while the kiddos ran on the grass and carefully examined a few bugs in the flowers.
A six-sample tasting typically runs $20. However, this time one of my friends was a member, and membership definitely has its benefits (like discounted tastings and charcuterie.) Of the six wines sampled, my favorite was the 2018 Carbonic Pinot Noir (I will definitely be back for that again)!
The helpful staff was more than patient with our collective group of 7 kiddos. As an added (future) bonus, a specific family-friendly picnic area is in the works. This seasonal feature will create a kid-approved area to be enjoyed by families, while a separate space will be reserved for grown-ups only. It’s literally the best of both worlds.
Tips for a successful winery trip with kids
- Get there early
I aim for opening (usually around 11 am). This helps accommodate post-lunch nap times, provides slightly cooler temperatures, and generally means less crowded tasting rooms.
- When in doubt call ahead
Not every winery (understandably) is a good fit for kiddos. If you aren’t sure, give them a ring before heading out.
- Kids still need to be supervised
Common sense prevails here. You have to keep an eye on the kids, if nothing else, to prevent impromptu u-picking of the grapes.
- Pack a picnic
Some wineries offer simple meat and cheese selections, but typically food options are limited. Even if your kid does have the refined palette of a foodie-in-training, bring snacks. Many spots have picnic tables or large fields where you can enjoy them.
- Bring a few entertainment options
While grown-ups could probably pass the time by sitting, sipping, and chatting, the kids might need a little more stimulation. I would recommend bringing along a game of checkers, a soccer ball, or a good book (depending on kids’ ages.)
- With younger kids, set a time limit
Personally, I’m spoiled being so incredibly close to multiple kid-friendly options. However, my kids get cranky just like anyone else’s when they require a nap. With the pre-school and younger crowd, I try to limit our trips to about 2.5 hours total, including travel time. The exception here is very young babies (wear them to your heart’s content.)
- Invite friends
While I’m sure I would have enjoyed a trip with only my daughter, it was way more fun with friends (both hers and mine)!
- Pace yourself
Each sample in a tasting is about an ounce of wine (a standard glass of wine is five ounces). During the tasting, we took our time and ended up hanging out around the wineries for the better part of two hours and enjoying food as well. But if you are worried about the alcohol hitting you harder during the day, you can always skip a sample or two if you’d like.
Recommended kid-friendly wineries
Alloro Vineyard (Sherwood)
Hawk’s View Winery (Sherwood)
Stoller Family Estate (Dayton)
Oak Knoll Winery (Hillsboro)
Ardiri Winery & Vineyards (Cornelius)
Lady Hill Winery (St. Paul)
Argyle Winery (Dundee)
Oswego Hills (West Linn)
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