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California Wine Country With Kids – A Beginner’s Guide

It’s a shame to tour California with its more than 3,700 wineries without visiting a few of them—even if you have kids in tow. The good news is that wineries have got a lot for children to love, from grape-juice tastings and farm animals to castles and bocce ball.  Here are six ways to explore California wine country with kids.


California Wine Country with Kids

Castello di Amorosa

Napa Valley

Where: 60 miles north of San Francisco Known for: Cabernet Sauvignon, a fairytale castle, commercial wineries, and famous-name restaurants Family-friendly wineries:  Every little knight and princess will love Castello di Amorosa and a ride on the aerial tram at Sterling Vineyards. Long Meadow Ranch Winery and Farmstead restaurant have a grassy area to play, a calm tasting room and a kid-friendly farm-to-table menu. Play: Rent bikes from in-the-kid-know Calistoga Bikeshop and pedal to local wineries. Stay: Value-minded Sunburst Calistoga has a relaxing pool area and complimentary boxed breakfasts.

Sonoma County

Where: An hour north of San Francisco, between Napa Valley and the Pacific Known for: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, small family wineries, rolling hills and farms Family-friendly wineries:  Francis Ford Coppola Winery is a one-stop winery resort experience with bocce courts and a pool. Opera singers have been known to make appearances at VJB Winery, while kids can amuse themselves with ride-on tractors, bocce courts, and farm animals at Larson Family Winery. Play: Enjoy Sonoma’s wild side with a tour at Safari West or play with the Peanuts gang at Charles M. Schulz Museum. Stay: Flamingo Resort has newly renovated rooms or try glamping in a tent cabin at Safari West.


California Wine Country with Kids

Santa Ynez Valley

Santa Ynez Valley

Where: Two hours north of Los Angeles. Known for: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, horses and the Danish town of Solvang. Family-friendly wineries:  Play with the giant chess set at Zaca Mesa or the resident dog at reservation-only, Tuscan-villa-inspired Demetria. Pack a football and a picnic lunch and watch for deer at Rancho Sisquoc. Play: Eat a Danish the size of your head at Olsen’s Danish Bakery, pet a miniature donkey at Seein’ Spots Farm or run around at Sunny Fields Park. Stay: Hadsten House Inn in Solvang has complimentary sit-down breakfast and a huge indoor pool.

Gold Country

Where: The quaint town of Murphys, three hours from San Francisco and two hours from Yosemite. Known for: Zinfandels, jumping frogs of Calaveras County, small family wineries, and Gold Rush history Family-friendly wineries: Check out a 44-pound crystalline gold leaf nugget, the world’s largest, at Ironstone Vineyards or let kids play on the grassy lawn at Hovey Wines. Play: Walk among giant sequoias at Calaveras Big Trees State Park, zipline at Moaning Cavern, or pan for gold at Natural Bridges.  Stay: Murphys Suites at the entrance to town offers one- and two-bedroom suites, while the Villa at Val du Vino has a private swimming pool and basketball court.

Paso Robles

Where: On the central coast of California, equidistant between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Known for: Rhone-style wines like Syrahs, rolling hills, and casual tasting rooms Family-friendly wineries:  Eberle Winery has bocce ball and wine cave tours or pretend play with wigs at Clautiere Cellers. Kids love Tobin James for the western-themed party vibe and free video game machines. Play: Go zip lining at an historic California ranch on the Margarita Adventures tour, sample honey and apples at Jack Creek Farms or take in the famous Hearst Castle, a 20-minute drive from Paso Robles.  Stay: La Quinta Inn & Suites for value or Cambria Shores Inn for the beach.


California Wine Country with Kids



Where: Anderson Valley on windy highway 128, four hours north of San Francisco Known for: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, coastline views, and laidback tasting rooms Family-friendly wineries:  Play on the swings at Meyer Family Cellars or roll a bocce ball at Balo Vineyards, and don’t miss the Gewurztraminer grape juice at Navarro Vineyards.  Play: Take a horseback ride on the beach with Ricochet Ridge Ranch, climb the tallest lighthouse on the Pacific Coast at Point Arena Lighthouse and taste apples at the Apple Farm.  Stay: Little River Inn has been a family favorite on the coast for 75 years.


Kristi Marcelle, a California based-freelance writer, contributed this to

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