Education,Wine,Wine Country,Wine Etiquette,Wine tasting,Winery

An Argument against and for children in wine country… How do you vote?


I was an only child and thus, I was taken to many adult venues that most children did not attend, such as cocktail parties, good restaurants, films aimed at adults, etc. (not so-called ‘adult’ films, however,) I also went to my parents’ workplaces and on political ‘get out the vote’ campaigns.

But I didn’t and was not allowed to be a rug rat and have tantrums, etc..I would have been severely admonished, if not downright spanked, had I acted like many of the children I see in public today.

As to my opinion, in general, a winery and tasting room is not a family occasion. It’s an adult activity for those that like wine. I don’t recommend taking children, very religious Baptists or alcoholics to wine tastings! Well-behaved dogs are okay, provided they don’t taste! Many wineries have ‘wine dogs’ or ‘wine cats.”

I don’t have kids, although I like kids. I just don’t like most of them in my face in what I consider an adult venue. I have sympathy for the adult taster that wants a family outing. The person that had one parent tasting while one watched the kids and then switched off was a good solution, I think, provided the kids were not near the tasting.

In Virginia, there is always the draconian ABC Board to consider when taking kids to places that are primarily dispensing alcohol. I can just see some old ABC harpy busting the place for having under-age kids near alcohol or for not serving enough food.

From Jo to Mel:

You sound like an only child who doesn’t have any kids.

Nothing wrong with only children who don’t have any children; they just live a different reality, not having spent all those sleepless nights fussing over the life of a child for the sake of the future. Again, not admonishing, just telling you that I understand who you are. Some of us choose that path, and it’s okay. (You usually make the best aunts and uncles!)

Also not admonishing you for your opinion about children not going wine tasting. You have a right to an opinion.

The Wine business is just that, though, it’s a business; and, it’s the business of farming.

Yesterday, my daughter Lyla and her six week old baby were with me at Trentadue Winery. Winemaker Miro Tcholakov (my friend) was pouring wine for my daughters and me. (Another one was also in from NC, where we’ve taken her kids with us when we’ve been tasting at the Biltmore, where they’re very family and child friendly.) Miro has two daughters, who are frequently at the winery with him, as kids are with their dads – showing up at work. The wine industry is a family community. We love our kids, they’re the future for us all. We believe in teaching them well, so we can all co-exist.

So, my youngest daughter had her new baby, whom she had wrapped around her body like a papoose, and we all cooed at the baby and enjoyed the wine. Wine tasting is very social and cordial…

Including all humans means that they will learn the culture well, and pass along the civility next time around. To exclude them means that they learn nothing about this wine tasting experience, nor do they learn how to act like adults, because they’re being excluded.

People who live and work in wine country are not prohibitionists, on any level. We farm and the kids farm with us. Some of us welcome your children into the world of wine, in a very educating way.

I was just delighted to read a story by Michelle Locke of the Associated Press about more and more wineries considering families in their offerings. Dallas News version of Some Calif. wineries welcome all in the family.

I first wrote about accepting children into wine country, ahead of any curve, because I had children on tours while working in tasting rooms, and I’ve also raised a lot of kids. I know kids… what they need, what they want, and how to integrate them into things that will enrich their lives and won’t hurt them.

MY KID EXPERIENCE: My own three, grandchildren (biological, step, and natural), a sister’s kids (for a while), Girl Scouts (I had Daisies before GS had Daisies, Brownies, Junior, Cadettes, GS Day Camp counselor for one year, director for three years with 200 kids that last year, teacher for five years with 80 kids for five years/each, substitute teacher for another four year with mostly Junior High kids, Camp Fire kids, neighbors kids who hung out in my house forever… the list is long and sweet, and now you get the point.

My blog has allowed me to air my opinions on all matters wine related since December of 2005.

I first wrote about children in wine country in June of 2006, and again in March 2011. This one was copied to the Swirl, Sip, Snark site (giving me credit), where people went nuts with comments, including Mel801’s (above). All I can say is Bravo to those who have followed suit. It’s a great subject.

  1. Biltmore Estate & Winery: a naturalist’s dream; a parent’s delight
  2. Children Should Be Welcomed Here ~ Wine Country
  3. Now this one.

If you don’t have kids, we can’t expect you to “get it.” If you do, and you don’t make the effort – unless you’re traveling without your children – how do you expect your kids to learn? You might save one kid in college from alcohol poisoning, is the way I see it, from all my years of having children be an important part of my life.

Now, wouldn’t that be worth it… to save a child from not knowing how to behave around wine, because you’ve kept the kid in the closet while you responsibly enjoyed wine in public?


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11 Responses to “An Argument against and for children in wine country… How do you vote?”

  1. I have many fond childhood memories of visiting vinyards along the Wine Route in South Africa. (Home sweet home! :D). There was something incredibly magical about running around the vinyards, and giving my own professional opinion on grape juice in the cool cellars. I think it would be sad for any child to miss out on such magical experiences… I do understand that they could be disruptive, but maybe it should be requested of the parents to control their children, rather than out-right banning them…

  2. Jo Diaz says:


    What a wonderful experience you had as a child, and your parents are great role models, with you being the perfect example. I’ve had many children at wineries, while I did my stint. Most of them were well behaved; occasionally, there was a child who was neglected in deference to the experience. That said, it’s easy to understand that the child is probably feeling left out, which is the reason for the disruption. That’s really easy to solve, by simply saying to the child, are you feeling left out? You get both the child and the parents’ attention. Kids only want to be included, and if a parent has brought them along, that parent needs to take responsibility.

    I, on the other hand, was a Girl Scout day camp director. I had over 200 children feeling included, by carefully setting up a great curriculum and having a great adult support system/staff. Not everyone has my skill set, but could easily take this advice. If you want your children to be included, it must start with you. Don’t simply drag your kids through life, or you’ll regret it by the time the kids are in their teens.

  3. Pat Spangler says:

    As a winery owner and parent, I think children should be welcome in the tasting room. At our winery, Spangler Vineyards, we go so far as to have a kids corner, with coloring books, a small tv/vcr to play videos, and a swingset and slide outside, to give the children something to do while the parents sample. So many people that stop by have kids, especially when traveling during the summer. To not understand that is to ignore a very large chunk of your audience. How about grandparents who have the kids for a while in the summer? We view ourselves as part of life, just as the French have long done, including the kids, not some uppity place only the “right” type of folks are allowed to visit. For the same reasons, we are also very dog friendly.

    I do agree that they need to behave. If you have not taught your children to behave in public, don’t take them to ANY store. That issue is above and beyond being at a winery.

    If you go somewhere and they are upset because you have kids, take your business to someone who understands and appreciates your business.

    Pat Spangler

  4. Peter T. says:

    My son is just over 2 years old, and LOVES to smell my wine and give me his two cents on it. In fact, he demands it! He knows he is not allowed to drink it, but I don’t see the harm in developing his nose this early. (He seems to like fruity whites and deep dark reds the best)

    I fully expect to take him along on tastings with me, perhaps post potty-training, and share the bouquets with him. That sounds like great father/son time to me! I know he would enjoy it, too.

    I realize this is a bit off-topic, but to comment on your post, I would be seriously bummed if I was denied admission to a tasting room or was berated by other patrons just because I had my son along with me.

  5. Jo Diaz says:


    In Europe, children enjoy a bit of wine in their water… We’re just very Puritanical in roots in the US… And, it’s seems like a shame to me. I will say this for my parents, who were very provincial in most things: When it was holidays, wine was poured and we were allowed to partake. I began to enjoy wine and alcohol when I was about 19 years old – not really before that with my peers. I just wasn’t invited to the drunk fests, because people knew that I was too square. Today, I’m well rounded.

    And, yes, if a tasting room bars (funny word for this) children, it’s the last time they’d see me or my money ever again. I vote with my pocketbook. I’m with you on this one.

  6. Jo Diaz says:


    I applaud you. Since you’re one of the members of PSILY, I know you fairly well, and am not surprised by all that you do for children; however, I didn’t know that you have so many things for entertaining them. I’m delighted to know this additional info about your winery. Bravo!

    Off to spread this word on Facebook for you.

    As always, you’re one of the BEST!

  7. Jay says:

    This article is funny. Ever have to ask someone to remove the kid carrier off of the tasting bar ? I have. Mom didn’t like it. In fact I threw her out. Moral of the story, it’s not the childs fault. Yes it is a family industry, even on weekends while harvesting, the workers bring a few of the kids and it’s ok with me. It usually goes unnoticed but beware there are those groups of people who will come after you for that. I throw them out too.

  8. Jo Diaz says:


    Happy that I can provide comic relief. I love comedy, too.

    I try to avoid tragedy as much as possible, also.

    What you’ve written about, a child on a counter, is very dangerous to put a child up that high, where it could be knocked off. I once had someone put their child (in carrier) on my kitchen table, the baby twisted in her seat and the seat went flying to the floor. I believe it was my daughter Melanie who dived and caught the seat before it hit the floor. That was very frightening.

    So, believe it parents… not a good idea.

    As to throwing people out, I’m in the PR business and know – after years of experiences – that it’s not a good idea to burn ANY bridges, if at all possible.

    If it’s your company, have at it and don’t be surprised with any consequences. If it’s not your business, it might cost you your job, if your boss is cranky that day.

    As the old saying goes, the customer is always right. To that I’ve added… Unless the customer is abusive.

    If you had explained that the child could have fallen off the counter (it only has to happen once for proof), you would feel terrible it that happened and you’d prefer to not have to experience that, as you care for the safety of her child, this might have made her realize that if balked, she’s look like the ass that she was. (They exist, I know.)

    Building a business is not an easy task. Friendly customer serve isn’t easy, but that’s part of any job… The hardest part…

    Another saying that I especially like: Happiness, I think you’ll find it’s true, is not in doing what we like, but liking what we must do. I hope this gives you a bit of stress release for what you have to endure as a tasting room person. It’s not always easy, I know.

    Meanwhile, laughter is the best medicine, so keep laughing from my funny article. I love it.

  9. Alana Gentry says:

    Jo, I have a popular post called Family Friendly Wine Tasting on my blog. People and winery staff enjoy the tips. (Link here but feel free to delete it if you’d rather not have an outbound link in the comments http://girlwithaglass.com/blog/2010/07/07/family-friendly-wine-tasting/) Cheers~

  10. Jo Diaz says:

    Love it, Alana.

  11. […] than once on this blog, I’ve written about children having a place at wineries. They should have a place, in my humble opinion. Most winery owners have children, and their […]

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