We visited San Francisco and Napa Valley pre-baby. Post-baby we headed back to the Bay Area and wanted to check out more wineries, but we had a baby with us this time! Is it still possible to go wine tasting with a baby? Thankfully the answer is: yes!
I don’t know all the wineries, there are likely some that do not allow children. Thankfully there are hundreds of wineries and vineyards in the Napa and Sonoma area, and they’re as varied as the wine – something for everyone. Those looking for an elegant and quiet tasting experience can choose accordingly and those looking for more of a lively and casual family experience can go the other direction. I’ll share all the wineries we visited both pre and post-baby and whether it’d be appropriate to bring along a baby or kids to the wine tasting.
Sonoma & Napa wineries
1. Castello di Amorosa Winery (Calistoga, CA)
This winery boasts a huge Tuscany-esque 13th century-styled castle. It’s extremely popular among tourists so it can get crowded, but it’s honestly a great option for those with kids. There aren’t many castles in the US, so it’s pretty magnificent and not something you will see often in California. The grounds are beautiful as well and they have sheep and some other animals. Elden enjoyed staring at the sheep for a while. We explored the castle ourselves (definitely neat for kids) but weren’t allowed everywhere without joining a tour. We were not allowed to join a tour with a baby. We could, however, take part in a tasting with the baby. The wines were decent, not the best, but the environment was worth it.
2. Ledson Winery & Vineyards (Kenwood, CA)
I wanted to visit Ledson to see the beautiful French Normandy style castle. I didn’t find any claims of this being a family-friendly winery, but I didn’t read the opposite either. The vineyard and castle offered a stunning backdrop as we drove up the driveway. We first admired the gardens and exterior before heading inside. It didn’t feel particularly family-friendly, but almost no one else was there and no one seemed to mind Elden’s presence. He wanted to move around (new walker) so Steve and I switched on and off for the tasting. I really enjoyed their wine and still have a bottle I so badly want to drink, but I also don’t want it to be gone!
3. Jacuzzi Family Vineyards (Sonoma, CA)
We visited this winery for its olive oil rather than wine. It is a winery with a tasting room too though. The olive oil and tasting rooms are right across from one another which could be a great setup with kids of a certain age. This one is near downtown Sonoma so you don’t have to drive far to reach it. It has a beautiful stone facade. There was a field of sheep outside that Elden enjoyed watching for a while (bonus for young kids).
4. V. Sattui Winery (St Helena, CA)
V. Sattui reminded me of a huge chaotic family picnic. It was perfect. It’s not a peaceful and elegant experience, so don’t go there looking for that. I don’t imagine you’re looking for that if you’re planning to bring a baby though! This is a great winery to visit when you want to eat. There is a tasting room and a big market/store selling all sorts of food. It can get crowded, but there are plenty of tables outside and a lawn to host your picnic. It’s busy and loud, but a fun easy-going place great for families. This is definitely a baby-friendly, family-friendly winery.
5. Gundlach Bundschu Winery (Sonoma, CA)
This was my favorite winery experience to date. We signed up for their Vineyard Excursion where they drive you around in this rugged Pinzgauer vehicle (see below). You get a tour of their 300-acre property, stopping at various points to learn more about their process and taste different wines. It was bumpy but great fun! Once we returned to the main winery building, we toured inside their barrel cave. Children are not allowed on tours, but I think they’re allowed in the winery itself for tastings. I loved the down to earth, friendly atmosphere of this winery.
6. Domaine Carneros (Napa, CA)
This winery is a French-styled chateau that sits regally upon a hilltop; they’re known for their sparkling wines. Unlike most tastings that take place at a bar top standing, here they seat and serve you. We did a tasting paired with a food plate on the terrace. Children are allowed on the terrace for tastings, but not on tours. There is not as much open space here for kids to move around as it’s on top of several staircases and off a busy road. This one felt a bit stuffy to me, and while we enjoyed it as a couple (pre-baby trip), I wouldn’t bring my toddler here (maybe a younger baby though).
There are so many wineries and vineyards to visit in the Sonoma and Napa areas, we’ve barely made a dent. I think most wineries will allow you to bring a baby into the winery, but not for a tour. Some may not allow you to have the baby right at the bar for the tasting itself. Even though many allow you to bring a baby and kids, some are more or less welcoming and accommodating to families. Where have you been? Was it baby-friendly? Add in the comments below so we can check it out sometime.
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