Saturday, September 13, 2008

Wine Tasting with Toddlers?

Paul had Wednesday off. We had an itch for a day trip. What to do? What to do? We could go on a hike. But where? It was still hot inland but I didn't feel like freezing windy beach weather. I knew where to go! Bothe- Napa Valley State Park! I had read about a hike there that was well shaded in a redwood forest by a creek. Score! So I checked the map and wouldn't you know it- right off Highway 29 in the midst of wineries. Double score! Who in their right mind would take two toddlers to a winery? Well I would but I have never claimed to be in my right mind. A little bit more research and I came across this gem of a winery only a couple miles up the road from the park- Sterling Vineyards.

I wouldn't say wine tasting is really ever centered around keeping little ones entertained. After all, its an adult activity and most people on vacation in Napa aren't there for some family fun. However some of us don't get the pleasure of vacationing without children so we have to make the best of the situation. Sterling Vineyards is a great winery to bring the kids to because 1) they have an aerial tram that takes you to the top of the hill where the tasting rooms are located 2) There is a self-guided tour that gives a great glimpse on the whole wine making process and forces the kids to learn a little something 3) There are many great terraces with views galore so the kids have something neat to look at while enjoying the fresh air 4) They give the kids Capri Sun, crayons, and picture to color so you can actually linger instead of chugging  your wine. All of this is available for the low, low price of $20 per adult ($15 with a coupon from the website if you go before 12:30 like we did ), $10 for 3-21 and free for under 3. The over 21 crowd will get to taste 5 different wines including reserve wines on their tour so I would say that is a pretty good deal in a not so inexpensive place like Napa Valley.  I particularly loved this spot because of the view and the exceptionally picturesque location between Saint Helena  and Calistoga. The kids enjoyed themselves on the tram and we all enjoyed the view on our way to the top.

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Here is me trying to look like a real live adult

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And Ben learning about the finer points of the fermentation process.

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Look at the size of the barrels in this shot. Just think of all that glorious wine...

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And here is my ill fated attempt of me getting a shot with my two little ones

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Ughh.. one of these days I will get my shot with the kids...  Oh well we got a good family shot.

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One shot I wish I did get was when Ben decided to test the floating capabilities of the cork the nice employee gave him by throwing it in the toilet right before Mommy sat down. Yep- floats wonderfully.

Here are some more shots from the winery including Mari enjoying the flowers, an amazing view, Ben's bump from a run in with the tasting table, tasty treats for the kids, and grapevines galore.

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Well this post has gotten plenty long so I think I will make it a two parter and save my lowdown on the park for tomorrow. I also think that since I gave Sterling such a stellar review they should send some wine over my way. I was digging that reserve chardonnay Mr. Sterling.  Come one, throw me a bone!


Christy said...

simply gorgeous! Love the pics! I must, must come visit California some day!

Cheryl Lage said...

Looks like a slice (and a sip or two) of heaven!

On a much lesser scale, our local wine shop does Friday tastings and our two are always well pleased to go...astute proprietor keeps the local kids in Tootsie Pops and root beer floats! ;)

Can hardly wait to see part two...LOVE the full family shot!

Anonymous said...

Wine tasting is definitely not somewhere I would think of taking kids...but you're right, sometimes you don't really have a choice! Good to know more places are getting family-friendly.

debi9kids said...

WOW! This place looks incredible!
Every time Russ and I head to PA, we talk about visiting the wineries and just thought it would be insane with the kids.... maybe I should find out if they have kid activities.... How fun!

Anonymous said...

That is so civilized! I haven't been on that tram ride in years, but you're right. It's perfect for kids.

We were in Sonoma this weekend, and went to a party at the Larson Family Winery. SUPER low-key tasting room, 3 friendly black labs, horses, goats, and miniature donkeys. Plus space for picnicking, and some bocce courts.

Check it out the next time you're wine-tasting with the short set!

Tonya Staab said...

Guess what I'm bookmarking for later ......

Gorgeous pics hon.

Working on that blog post I promised ... yes I know, I know, get my slack ass moving already. Should have it to you tonight ... hopefully LOL

L I S A said...

I love Sterling! Thanks for the reminder, even though I have to revisit vicariously through you. How fun to take the kids there.

Shannon said...

So cool! We have passed by a few wineries here and there, and I've thought to myself, what if we just stopped...but never had the guts to do so with the kids! Now I may have to do a little research and give it a try!

Dawn Friedman said...

What a great idea!! Your kids are so cute! I LOVE Mari's outfit. I am so impressed with what you are always up to.

Cheryl Lage said...

Oh Sharlene...what an awful tragedy re: the family in the flash flood. :( It is an incredibly prayer and good thoughts connected world.

Please be with your friend.

The Romero-Schroeder said...

Poor Ben that sure was a bump!!! tell him to stop that wine tasting it is getting to him!!!!! LMAO

Great Family Pic!

Debbie Moore said...

Awsome pictures!! Looks like a great day. I have never taken the kids wine tasting but, my sister takes Caleb sometimes. Maybe next year I will be brave enough to take the twins.