Wine tasting is decidedly a very adult thing to do in that, well, legally you have to be an adult to do it. However, despite the age requirement, there are a few Napa Valley wineries that understand some families enjoy traveling together in Wine Country and therefore happily accommodate children.
In fact, some Napa wineries go out of their way to ensure that, if parents want to bring their kids, the younger set will actually have as much fun as the adults. Many wineries even allow kids to accompany adults on the more adventurous tours and tastings (so those under age aren’t just stuck in a wine cellar for an hour). Have a youngin’ who loves trains? (Are there any kids who don’t?) The Napa Valley Wine Train is also a great option for kiddos who can be chill for a couple of hours on a train, with an optional stop at a vineyard.
Read on for seven of the best family-friendly wineries in Napa where you and your kids will have a great time, and you can spend all of that babysitter money you’ll save on a case of wine to take home and enjoy later.
Adults love visiting Beringer because it’s the oldest continuously operating winery in Napa Valley; kids love it because they can explore the 17-room mansion that is the centerpiece of the property, play bocce ball, and enjoy a picnic lunch in the garden. Children of all ages are also welcome on the 30-minute Legacy Cave Tour that takes visitors through the Old Winery and historic tunnels that were dug into the hillside by Chinese laborers who had just finished constructing the transcontinental railroad. Wine tasting and a chance for kids to learn a little history — can’t go wrong with that.
2000 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 257-5771
What kid (or grownup for that matter) doesn’t love a castle? Castello di Amorosa is an authentically-styled 13th century Tuscan castle winery that has 107 rooms, five towers, a moat with a drawbridge, courtyards, beautifully vaulted wine cellars, and even a torture chamber. Of course, that’s not all on display, but you will see a lot of the wine cellars and caves on the guided tour that allows children (over five), who get a cup of grape juice during the wine tasting portion. If you don’t think your kids are up for an hour-long walking tour followed by 45 minutes of wine tasting, or if they’re five or under, skip that part and explore the property (where you may spot sheep, emus, and peacocks) and the two main levels on your own. All “well-behaved and well-supervised” kids are allowed on the grounds for a general admission price of $20 (also includes grape juice). There are even coloring books and a kids’ table provided in the Knight’s Hall tasting room so your little ones can stay entertained while you taste.
4045 St. Helena Highway, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 967-6272
While the adults sip wine, children can pretend to be princes and princesses at this estate that features a stone castle built into the hillside. After the tasting, take the family down to Jade Lake, a gorgeous Chinese garden and lake with crooked bridges, a stunning pavilion, and swans and ducks. If you would like to have a picnic on one of the islands in the lake, you will need to become a member and make a reservation in advance, but even without a picnic, it’s still a beautiful place to stroll around and let the kiddos burn off some energy.
1429 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 942-5105
Kids (and dogs on leashes) will love exploring this working farm where they’ll get to meet chickens, try to spot frogs in the fish pond, and roam gorgeous gardens that serve as both scenery and habitat. The Garden/Cellar Tasting is the best option for people with children as it’s the most casual tasting available: you can either stroll through the gardens while you taste or hang out in the Barrel Cellar while the non-wine tasters sip on juice boxes and color.
8815 Conn Creek Road, Rutherford, CA 94573, (707) 963-4704
Kids are welcome on the Eco Tour + Tasting Experience at Honig, which includes a guided tour in a six-person cart (perfect for tired little feet) where you’ll all learn about the things that Honig does to take care of the environment, including how the Honig bees help, before finishing with a tasting. The winery is so kid-friendly, in fact, that during the tasting, kids can enjoy juice and snacks, play with toys and puzzles, color in coloring books, or even grab some sidewalk chalk and make art for everyone to enjoy.
850 Rutherford Road, Rutherford, CA 94573, (707) 963-5618
Children 12 and over are allowed to join the Inglenook Experience Tour and Tasting, which includes a walking tour of the chateau, vineyards, and infinity caves, and finishes with a seated wine and cheese tasting in a private room, but for a truly family-friendly experience, skip that in favor of a more casual experience at The Bistro. There, you can dine outside in the courtyard and enjoy wines by the glass or bottle, as well as soft drinks, coffee, bistro bites, cheese, and charcuterie. While the adults sip and chat, the kids can borrow wooden sailboats to sail in the courtyard fountain, a la the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, which the Inglenook gardens were inspired by.
1991 St. Helena Highway, Rutherford, CA 94573, (707) 968-1161
The only way to get to this Greek-style winery perched on a hilltop 300 feet above Calistoga is via an aerial tram ride, which is almost as thrilling (and definitely more unexpected) as any ride at an amusement park. The Signature Winery Tour is self-guided, which means that you can go at your own pace so that no one gets fidgety, and while the adults are tasting, the kids can entertain themselves with the snacks, juice, and coloring book they were gifted upon arrival. The views from the terrace on this mountaintop estate also make the perfect backdrop for a frame-worthy family photo.
1111 West Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515, (800) 726-6136