Mr. CT and I are fortunate as California natives to have grown up going to the Napa Valley… both of us come from a family of wine lovers, and I grew up in the Bay Area where we had relatively easy access for short getaways. We made many trips before having kids and even belonged to plenty of wine clubs, but a lot of that was cut back and changed when we started a family. Now that the kids are older, we’ve returned a few times with family, and while it’s definitely a different experience than it was before they came along, it’s still a fun destination either as a couple’s getaway or with the family. I should note that we always have a designated driver, and in this case, a designated babysitter in my father-in-law, who generously watched the kiddos outside at many destinations and waited to enjoy wine until back at the hotel. If you have a willing friend or relative, I’d definitely recommend this if you are bringing the kids along! That being said, many wineries are now “kid friendly” – some we’ve been to have even offered snacks and juice for the kids, or coloring pages! If you research ahead of time, you can definitely find some family friendly wineries that have stuff for kids to do or look at, and find some fun for them while the adults have a good time too.
One place we discovered this trip is Frogs Leap, which did in fact have coloring and juice available for our young ones, which they absolutely loved. They also have chickens and other fun things to see on the property, which their grandpa had fun showing them during the tasting. They also enjoyed the gorgeous Christmas tree and fire in the lobby, while we enjoyed the wine and a wonderful cheese platter at a private table!
A beautiful private tasting table at Frog’s Leap!
Frog’s Leap is a beautiful spot!
Another of our favorites is Flora Springs, where we are all club members. We got to enjoy time up at the beautiful Estate, and the kids absolutely had a blast roaming the grounds, going through the wine caves, and even playing boccie ball. Having been through gigantic historic caves in Champagne France, the kids have some background with wine, types of oak in a barrel,and what goes into the wine making process. While they obviously haven’t tasted it, they have gotten to smell and note differences in various wines in a glass. Our 8yo is especially interested in the science that goes into the process, and loves smelling the difference between French oak and American oak. They loved exploring the caves, noting the meanings of what’s written on the barrels, and comparing the experience to what they were fortunate to experience in France.
Flora Springs is a beautiful property!
The kids also had a blast at Merryvale in St Helena… besides playing in the fountain and enjoying the massive barrels, they even got to learn a bit about wine and put their finger in to “taste” and smell themselves! They are becoming quite the connoisseurs at recognizing oak, fruit, and other qualities! Frank Family was another treat, where the champagne was delightful and the Disney connection was neat for these Disney fans! Finally, they had a blast at Conn Creek, where they got to draw with chalk from the soil in Champagne on ground of the Napa Valley! What a treat! We also loved getting to see samples of all the different soils and micro-climates around the valley.
Conn Creek, Frank Family, and Merryvale are all great places to visit!
Besides hitting the wineries, we found a great activity for kids in nearby Fairfield at the Jelly Belly factory! The kids loved the tour, where hats are mandatory (no, literally they are! 🙂 ) and sampling and shopping is a must. They enjoyed seeing a “real” traditional factory with all the steps in creating and selling jelly beans, and of course with having recently read Harry Potter, were very into the mystery flavors and surprises at the store. It’s worth a visit if you’re in the Napa Valley area with kids – or even just kids at heart 🙂 Another great spot is the famous Bouchon Bakery, which has tasty fresh pastries in downtown Yountville and is one of our must-visit recommendations!
The Jelly Belly Factory is a great place to hit up with kids, and the bakery is super tasty!
All in all, Napa is an incredibly beautiful place for the wine drinker and non drinker alike. While we didn’t try this trip, we hope to go back and experience the nearby Safari Zoo and some of the outdoor hiking trails. There are hundreds upon hundreds of wineries, and some of the best are the small establishments not even on the map – so keep your ear out for referrals from friends, family and other wineries! While it’s a perfect place for a romantic getaway, you may find it’s not such a bad place to visit with your whole family either! 🙂