Thursday, May 05, 2016

15 Tips for Successful Winery Visits with Children

"The Finger Lakes makes it possible for parents to enjoy wine country without needing to leave the kids behind--or having to wait until the nest is empty. Parents like wine, too!"
-Kristy Wenz, visitor

1. Research wineries ahead of time.

Websites often mention kid-friendly areas, games, outdoor paths, and live music.

2. Prep your kids for winery behavior.

Ask them to stay near you, or in an area you designate as kid-safe. Remind them not to touch things that don't belong to them, to keep their voices lower, not to run, and to be polite. Depending on your children that day, you may select a few wines to try, make a purchase, and leave fairly quickly. Other times, you may have some time to savor your sips and ask the host questions.

3. Avoid weekends if possible.

Wineries are much less crowded on weekdays.

4. If avoiding weekends is not possible, choose wineries with large outdoor areas, kids' activities, or restaurants.

Some wineries even have a children's activity area with games, toys, coloring supplies, etc.

5. Make sure to have something for the kids to do.

Bring small games, drawing pads, books, and of course, electronics (iPods, iPads, etc.) to keep the kids occupied.

6. Don't visit more than two or three wineries in one day.

Make sure to stop for kids' activities in between: museums, historical stops, hiking, parks, fairs, mini-golf, etc.

7. Limit your time at the tasting bar.

Follow your kids' lead. If they are entertained, occupied, and content, you can linger. But if you know you're on borrowed time, sample a few of your favorite wines and make a purchase to enjoy at a later date.

8. Do your tasting at the end of the bar or near a seating area.

When wineries aren't crowded, it's often easy to find a table or picnic bench in close proximity to the tasting area to set kids up with their activities. If it's a bit more crowded and seating is limited, keep them with you near the end of the tasting bar.

9. Do not leave children unattended.

Wineries are not meant for unsupervised children. That's not to say that families aren't welcome. However, hosts and patrons will not appreciate a child running wild through the gift shop or in the vineyard.

10. Ask if the winery has grape juice.

If they do, have the kids do a tasting and pick which one they want to purchase.

11. Reward good behavior.

Many wineries sell souvenirs. Alternatively, visit a local antique or toy store to find other memorable tokens of your visit.

12. Don't push the kids beyond their limits.

If they're hungry, choose a winery with food options. If they're overtired, pick another day.

13. Thank your host.

If you enjoyed your experience and your wine, purchase a bottle (or two or three) of your favorite wine.

14. Leave it as you found it.

If your kids have a snack or are playing with their toys, make sure to clean up before you leave.

15. When you leave the winery, if outdoor space is available, let the kids be silly.

If the winery has a large open picnic area, run races or play tag. If not, play follow the leader back to the car or drive to a nearby park for some outdoor fun.

For more ideas to help you plan memorable adventures with your family, check out the details of the Wenz family's vacation to Finger Lakes Wine Country and get firsthand tips from mom, Kristy.

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