Napa Soiree ~ Where do the Children Play ~ at Black Coyote Chateau

Recently, I read a quote from Karen MacNeil, wine educator at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, saying that a project she’d like to tackle is children’s wine education. Now, there’s my heroine! Winner of the 2007 Wine Literary Award from the Wine Appreciation Guild for her superlative efforts, with her latest being Wine, Food & Friends. Children’s wine education ~ This is how we view what it’s all about within the business. Maybe we’re California-centric; maybe we just know how to live? Whatever it is, I’m pretty darn glad I’m out here to be part of it all.

My friend Corinne Reichel is the publisher for The Grapes Grow Sweet book: Corinne’s another one of my champions. She’s now even created a coloring book that’s spun from this book’s publishing. Check it out and order for your favorite child to color, while you’re enjoying your favorite wine. Click Here

A colleague, whom I adore, is Laurie Jones of The Wine Group. Laurie and her children eat up copies of The Grapes Grow Sweet. Her sons read these autographed copies so much that they wear them out.

Laurie and her husband know vineyards, as do their sons. Laurie has to referee the boys, because they’re now old enough to read the story, but have to figure out who plays which role. (Could anything be more dear?)

So, back to children and the wine business. Children belong in this business. Remember, a vineyard is a farm. Farmers depend on the next generation to step up and execute, and they do: generation, after generation, after generation….

But, at a Napa Soirée, where do the children play?

Dr. Ernest A. Bates has an annual gathering. Each year, it’s better than the last, and this year didn’t disappoint.

Running at full tilt, not sure I could even keep up with high season in wine country, it was really worth the drive over the hill. This afternoon’s party was a “no pressure ~ just sit back and enjoy” live music, a banquet, and glorious sunlight.

Dr. Bates and Pam Moore of KRON, SF

Black Coyote Chateau is Dr. Bates, Stan Trotman, Jack Ruffle, and Dr. Olin Robison’s, wine brand, and that’s what we were enjoying… If it was white you wanted, the 2005 Black Coyote Monterey Chardonnay was being poured. If you are a red wine fan, the 2004 Black Coyote Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District was yours to enjoy. Perhaps you started with white, segueing into red.

baby at coy fish pool

There was plenty of food, wine, and other beverages. Most importantly, there was a lot of camaraderie that went along with this beautiful day in Napa Valley, with children scampering everywhere.

I’ve had lots of conversations with colleagues about whether or not children should be anywhere near wine being poured and enjoyed. Most of my colleagues have an aversion to this kind of life style, thinking that we’ll be judged harshly for mixing fun and wine with kids.

I, on the other hand, just love it. If we don’t bring our children into these experiences, how will they ever begin to culturally evolve and understand that wine’s just a liquid food that’s part of a civilized society?

When working at Robert Mondavi Winery, I was about to take a tour of visitors around the facility. This group had four really rambunctious boys, that were completely out of control. The parents were totally oblivious; however, everyone else going on this tour had raised eyebrows. Since it was my tour (even though they were not my kids), I decided to take complete control.

The Girl Scout day camp director in me kicked in – full tilt, with no looking back or worrying about what the parents might think. I knew what the rest of the tour was thinking.

So, here’s what I did…

“Okay, everybody, I’d like to have you help me welcome these wonderful boys on this tour. Let’s give them a great big hand right now for being such good boys (assumed good behavior).” I led the clapping, and people in the circle didn’t disappoint me or the boys. I went on, “Isn’t it great of them to allow their parents to be here? This isn’t Disneyland, we know. You kids must be so bored to be doing this with your parents. We know it’s got to be really hard on you.” Now, I directly addressed them, looking them squarely in their little shocked eyes. “But, bless your hearts for giving so much to your parents, who have given so much to you!”

But, at a Napa Soirée, where do the children play? Everywhere and anywhere… By now you’ve seen how much fun these kids were having in “the wine world.” Welcome to the process of civilization! Kids find their way, regardless of how adults craft the message. They follow by our example. If this event is an example of where our culture is headed, we have a wonderful future ahead of us. I was raised by some of the most religious fanatics out there, Catholic nuns. Interestingly, they taught me, “Moderation is the key to life.” Enjoy responsibly, and teach your children with an open mind. What more can anyone ask for?

2 Responses to “Napa Soiree ~ Where do the Children Play ~ at Black Coyote Chateau”

  1. jo says:


  2. Lowell says:

    “Darn! Oh well. I’m doing my best to “”mainstream”” it

  3. jo says:

    “I set up a panel at the DC Wine Festival this year with winemakers

  4. Lowell says:

    “If there’s anything I can do to help you guys out from here on the East coast

  5. jo says:

    I’ll file that away. You never know.