Friday, September 13, 2013

Virginia Wineries: Kid Stuff?

The blogmasters are often perplexed by the number of kids (and even babies) we've seen in winery tasting rooms across the state. Apparently many wine lovers opt not to get sitters for the day and bring their charges to the vineyards.

Now we love kids and babies. But are wineries really an appropriate place to bring them? These are tasting rooms - not Chuck E. Cheese. But as we are an upbeat blog, we will look at this with the glass half full: Babysitters were not available and the couple/family decided, at last minute, to forgo the trip to Kings Dominion or Water Country USA in favor of the grapes.

This all said, some wineries in the Commonwealth are more kid/baby friendly than others (usually these same wineries are dog-friendly, which could be the topic of a different blog post). And there are other locations in the state we urge families to avoid.

We have to reflect on the alcohol consumption laws in the United States. They seem somewhat backwards to us--you can join the military at age 17 and possibly die for your country, but you can't legally take a sip of wine or beer until you're 21? Something doesn't seem quite right here. In France and Germany, legal age to consume beer and wine is 16. So perhaps the wineries friendly to young ones are trying to tell the powers that be something.

Here are several wineries in Virginia that will have massive appeal to kids (moreso than other wineries):

Three Fox Vineyards: This winery is like kid heaven. Two big hills (one leading to a creek and the other leading to their "Table in the Sky," that feels like you're on top of the world). Lawn games. Hammocks by the creek. The winery is very kid (and dog) friendly and tastings are done outside as well as inside during warmer months.

Barrel Oak Winery: Dogs. A loft area upstairs with a TV that plays kids' movies. Dogs. Lots of space outside to run around. Dogs. Five minutes away from Three Fox, so you can make a day of it. Dogs. Live entertainment every weekend. A true festival feeling. Dogs.

Wisteria Vineyard: The look and feel of a working farm, complete with free roaming animals (sheep, roosters, domestic ducks). Another large property with a creek and a nature trail. Mountain views. Definitely a good family "daycation" spot.

Bluemont Vineyard: See Wisteria Vineyard.

Old House Vineyards: A good all season winery for the family. Especially if your kids are into chess and checkers. They will be fascinated by the pond with the bridge and island.

Sharp Rock Vineyards: A creek where amateur fishing and wading is encouraged.

Village Winery: In addition to wine, chocolate syrups are offered. And the kids will love the rustic farm feel of this spot, minutes from the historic village of Waterford.

As for wineries in the state that are not too fond of young ones, we won't mention them here - again, positive thoughts. But we strongly suggest you check a winery website very clearly before venturing to an unfamiliar place, if you plan on bringing your kids. For families, nothing is more frustrating than driving into the heart of Vavino country only to be welcomed by a "No One Under 21 Admitted" sign.

And please keep your kids under control while in the tasting room. Remember, this is a winery. Not a daycare center!

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