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Wine,Wine 101,Wine Country,Wine Education

Kids in Wine Country, Bring Them On!

Back to my Robert Mondavi Winery days on this one, because I gathered the best stories while working there.

Winery Tour Guide

You realize, there are a lot of kids who live in wine country, right? Many of them are born into the wine world, so wine is NOT the forbidden fruit, nor is it something to avoid like the plague… “No Johnny, you CAN’T be around wine while we’re learning about it, so go get another life!” Yeah, it’s not like that at all, and I’ve seen a ton of kids with their parents, and it makes me happy.

Case in Point

This day delivered a tour with four overly rambunctious boys, Rumble, Tumble, Fumble, and Bumble, I dare say.

They were decidedly not happy about being in wine country with their parents; and frankly, if I were a 10-year old boy, I’d be jumping all over my buddies, too, instead of looking at an expertly positioned trellising system with stressed vines.

I began, not with my usual spiel, but instead with….

“Well, what have we here? Four young men who are pretty awesome to let their parents do something other than Disneyland! Please help me, Ladies and Gentlemen, to welcome these wonderful young boys!”

I started applauding, encouraging with body language that everyone else join me… In others words, “Get your eyeballs back into your heads, please, or we’re all gonna wish we had stayed home today.” (Everyone’s eyeballs had shifted up and to the back of their eye sockets as they watched these kids, realizing they were all about to share the winery tour from hell.)

As an adult tour guide for adult subject matter, I had to do some really fast gear shifting. I reached way back into myself and returned as a former director of Androscoggin Girl Scout Day Camp, completely leaving the adults behind… for a few minutes, at least.

“Thank you, Young Men, I know how hard this is. There’s nothing here for you, and this is about to be so boring. But I have to thank you all for being on your absolute best behavior, giving this special day to your parents, who have given so much to you all of your lives.”

“Aren’t they wonderful, Ladies and Gentlemen? Please help me in thanking these adorable young men for being so selfless and generous to their parents!”

Lot’s of applause… and we hadn’t even started yet.

As we went form one place to the next, before I’d begin to talk about whatever segment of winemaking we were covering, I’d start with, “Ladies and Gentlemen, please help me again to thank these young men. Haven’t they just been the best kids you’ve ever met?”

Lots of applause, winking, and smiles.

Ah… we dodged the bullet!

When the adults were enjoying their wine tasting, I ran to the back room, got non-alcoholic grape juice, brought it out for Rumble, Tumble, Fumble, and Bumble, who had now collectively become Humble, and it was drinks all around.

At the end of the tour, when everyone had left, the parents and boys remained. Their mother said, “My sons and I want to thank you. They told me that this was the most fun they had had in a long time, and they learned some things, too!”

It’s amazing what a little spotlight can do… And who knew that I just love kids!

4 Responses to “Kids in Wine Country, Bring Them On!”

  1. You’re the best Jo! I think it helped that the kids had each other. These days, they’d probably just bury their noses in their phones….

    Really nice touch rewarding them at the end not only with acknowledgment but with a treat of their own grape juice!

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    After my tour, one of the moms came to me and told me, Gwendolyn, that the kids loved the tour and they learned a lot. Meanwhile, I had NO grumpy adult faces on this tour, either.

  3. Stephanie Douglas says:

    As one of those kids, I loved chasing my sister through the vines and remember that glorious heat during summers in the country. I was bred with an affinity for wine as it was never taboo, rather a staple at our family table. Long before I was old enough to taste, I remember absorbing its rich history through stories told by my Great Uncle (one of Californias first wine exporters) and my parents. Nuturing an appreciation for those things worth earning later in life (drivers license, your first kiss, college acceptance and fine wine for example) starts when you’re young. To the educator in the tasting room, well done.

  4. Jo Diaz says:

    Great story, Stephanie.

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