Hi there! Are kids welcome at wineries anymore… that is the question. This episode is an update to all those listening who used to make wine tasting a family outing. This was my dream outing pre-pandemic. I had literally trained my kids to love wineries.
Remember the days when you could visit a winery, lay out a picnic blanket, buy a bottle of wine and chill while your kids got some fresh air, maybe roamed around a bit, played some yard games, and ate food brought from home.
Then like a switch, the pandemic changed it all for some of the most popular places. What was once a picturesque day outdoors is a distant memory.
What happened? Is the pandemic really to blame? Or was the pandemic a perfect excuse to upscale the wine tasting experience.
Wine country has gone through a lot of changes since the pandemic, and many of these changes are here to stay. Is it the pandemics’ fault, or is this a sign of a developing wine country.
So why is it that kids and dogs are no longer welcome at many wineries? I guess kids are now in the same category as dogs? What if the dog is over 21… Kidding.
I get controlling the number of people on property for pandemic purposes. And for a while, that made complete sense. But there is no sign that this type of experience is coming back for many of the most popular places in the Willamette Valley. In fact, these wineries are stating on web sites, some nicer than others that you have to be 21 and over. They say for everyone’s safety no dogs or kids are allowed.
I have’t got a clear answer for what they mean by “for everyone’s safety,” but to be honest I have dug deep into this either.
I am done waiting for the policies to change. I realize it’s time for me to move on. And rightfully so, there are so many great wineries that want you to come visit kids and all. In fact, there are new and old family operated wineries that make you feel like the good ol days of wine tasting, where the tasting fees are reasonable, they waive them all when you buy wine, you can even bring your own picnic, lay out a blanket and relax.
Here are a few kid friendly wineries to get you started.
Coria Estate in Salem Oregon. This estate has 360 degree views, plenty of outdoor seating, outdoor games and their very own family members are often there to welcome you.
Bellingar Estates is the sweetest family winery. Everything you see was likely done by their own efforts. It is quaint, with quilts and flowers. You’ll see their kids running around and they even have a slide.
Utopia Wines is a great place to take some older children who can partake in a game of Bocce Ball. They have a ton of picnic tables with an open and relaxing space. Grab a Bocce court and enjoy some family friendly competition.
Varnum Vintners – Cyler and Taralyn Varnum are all about surprise and delight. With a variety of wines, including sparkling. They even have 12oz bottles of wine, which are the perfect porch-drinking portion. They have a lot to offer including a relaxing and inviting tasting room right off their residence. You’ll feel right at home.
I challenge you to make wine tasting a family event again by visiting these small boutique wineries that have amazing wine and hospitality to share. If you need advice for how to make the most of your next wine experience email firstname.lastname@example.org.