While California’s wine country is a popular tourist destination for parents, many do not realize that there are dozens of family-friendly California wineries that provide special activities and accommodations for youngsters. So while adults sip the newest vintages, kids may have fun sampling grape juice, romping in play areas, interacting with farm animals, and playing outdoor games on their own vineyard “course.”
The Wine Institute advises that parents contact ahead or check the winery’s website to ensure that children are welcome before going on a fun family excursion in California’s wine country. Some don’t allow visitors under the age of 21 owing to liability concerns or personal preferences. Children who have been granted permission will be able to go with you to the winery and enjoy special activities at some wineries.
RELATED: The Ultimate Guide to the Best BC Wineries by Region
What Are the Wine Regions in California?
California‘s major wine regions are the North Coast, Central Coast, Inland Valleys, Sierra Foothills, and Southern California. Each of their areas has a wide range of AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) and vineyards at different levels of size.
What Is the Wine Institute?
The Wine Institute is a public policy advocacy organization for 1,000 California wineries and associated enterprises that works to promote environmental protection in the wine industry.
Through its leadership in sustainable wine growing and a collaboration with the Visit California tourism organization to promote California’s wine and food products while also touting the state as a top travel destination, the group aims to benefit the economic and environmental health of the state.
Wine Institute runs an export program for California Wines, which accounts for 95 percent of U.S. wine exports.
A List of Family-Friendly California Wineries
The following list of family-friendly California wineries provides a good starting point for planning a fun day trip or a weekend getaway with your entire brood:
ACORN Winery/ Alegría Vineyards, Healdsburg
While their parents sample the wine, children can explore the vineyards nearby, do a guided vineyard walk, and try grapes during harvest.
Alexander Valley Vineyards, Healdsburg
The winery offers a variety of activities to keep the youngsters occupied. Families may participate in wine and cave tours with their parents, visit the vineyards, enjoy the picnic area, and meet the winery dogs. Children can do a seek-and-find puzzle at the winery while adults sample wine.
Alpha Omega, St. Helena
The winery offers crayons and a coloring book, Exploring the Napa Valley with Traveler Teddies, which is suitable for children.
Ancient Peaks Winery, Santa Margarita
The sky is the limit when it comes to activities at Ancient Peaks Winery. One of our favorites is a zipline tour over the vines on the winery’s Santa Margarita Ranch (tandem flights are available for children weighing 30-100 pounds with an adult). After completing the adventure course, families may dine at Ancient Peaks Cafe with adults enjoying wine pairings.
Bella Vineyards & Wine Caves, Healdsburg
The spectacular views of the region’s wineries and vineyards can be seen from aboard a vintage Pinzgauer truck that transports you to the top of Lily Hill, where parents may sample wine and children can watch hawks soar overhead. Families can also explore the wine caves and have a picnic on the lawns.
Bricoleur Vineyards has two large ponds on the estate and children can feed the ducks & koi in one pond – and there’s catch & release fishing in the other pond (bass & blue gill) if you bring your own gear and purchase a tasting. They also host pizza nights!
Brassfield Estate Winery, Clearlake Oaks
Families are invited to play bocce ball and cornhole at the winery’s picnic area.
Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma
The Historic Wine Museum, which includes a fun multimedia presentation, is one of the attractions along with wine cellars and tours led by historical actors. There’s also a picnic area and hedge maze to explore.
Captain Vineyards, Moraga
Families may book a farm stay, have a picnic, or tour the winery and learn more about the wine production process. Kids are welcome to assist in the grape crushing during harvest.
Castello di Amorosa, Calistoga
Take a trip to real-life Italy, where you’ll tour a huge replica of an Italian castle with a prison, then meet the estate peacocks and farm animals. Kids can taste grape juice and have their own play area.
Chasewater Winery & Olive Mill, Kelseyville
Families may spend the day playing bocce ball, picnicking on the lawn and sampling the estate’s olive oil at this pup-friendly winery.
Cline Cellars, Sonoma
The beautiful grounds, which include vast lawns, ponds stocked with carp and turtles, vintage railway cars, and Sicilian donkeys Fancy and Pudding, are reminiscent of a park.
DeLoach Vineyards, Santa Rosa
The winery’s educational, family-friendly excursions cover DeLoach’s history, production processes, and farming methods. Picnics are welcome in the winery grove for families.
Domaine Artefact, Escondido
Pack a lunch and play cornhole and big Jenga, or go on an animal visit with the farm animals.
Fenton Herriott Vineyards, Placerville
Picnic tables and two full-sized bocce ball courts provide a lovely setting for a picnic.
Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Geyserville
A trip to Coppola Estate allows you to get acquainted with the history and present of one of America’s most famous filmmakers. The gardens, which are filled with sculptures, fountains, ponds, and walkways designed for strolling or jogging, surrounds two huge swimming pools. A bocce ball court is also available. A children’s library, a gallery of mementoes from Coppola’s films, board games, and more will appeal to families.
Frog’s Leap, Rutherford
Frog’s Leap Winery in Rutherford, California, is a family-friendly location with a barn, farm animals, and fruit and vegetable gardens. The winery occasionally hosts certain special children’s tastings.
Fults Family Vineyards, Lower Lake
Families are welcome to enjoy the golf range at this family-friendly winery and picnic tables are provided.
Furthermore Wines, Sebastopol
For a day of bocce ball and picnic, families can bring their children and dogs.
Grey Wolf Vineyards & Cellars, Paso Robles
Parents can enjoy a glass or bottle of wine while their children play big Connect Four, huge Jenga and cornhole. Barton’s Kitchen Window serves family-friendly fare.
Heritage Oak Winery, Acampo
Picnics, hiking down to the river, kayaking, and occasional guided bird excursions are all part of family fun outside.
Holly’s Hill Vineyard, Pleasant Valley
For kid’s and family fun, the winery offers an outdoor toy box and family-friendly camping through Harvest Hosts.
Honig Vineyard & Winery, Rutherford
The winery has a dog-friendly atmosphere, with juice boxes, Goldfish crackers, and coloring books available for $10 per child.
Iron Hub Winery and Vineyards, Plymouth
At this family-friendly California winery, children’s activities include cornhole, huge Jenga, coloring books, and enormous dominoes while parents enjoy a leisurely patio tasting.
Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate, Fulton
The kids may play bocce ball, picnic, and explore the huge vegetable garden, which includes a chicken coop, bat boxes, and a beehive.
Landmark Vineyards, Kenwood
The estate has a large lawn and picnic area, as well as a bocce court.
Napa Cellars, St. Helena
Bocce ball, ladder ball, and cornhole are available for family enjoyment. A picnic area with grills is also available at the winery, as well as music on select weekends.
Navarro Vineyards, Philo
Navarro offers grape juice tastings of Pinot Noir and Gewürztraminer for children and family-friendly winery tours and picnics are available.
Raymond Vineyards, St. Helena
The Theater of Nature, located outdoors, demonstrates how all of nature’s “actors,” including hens and goats, contribute to the production of high-quality wine.
Retzlaff Vineyards, Livermore
A beautiful picnic area is available for visitors to enjoy. There are also two huge toy tractors for youngsters to play on the lawn.
Shannon Ridge Winery, Lower Lake
A family-friendly winery with dog-friendly vineyard walks, bocce ball, and picnic tables is located here.
Six Sigma Ranch and Winery, Lower Lake
Topper, the winery’s potbelly pig, loves to have his ears rubbed. Kids can help feed the animals on select Saturdays. The grounds also include vast picnic areas, cornhole, and pathways for hiking and mountain biking.
Sterling Vineyards, Calistoga
Gondola ride up the mountain to the winery, where families are welcome to go on a self-led tour. On arrival, children are given snacks, juice, and a coloring book package.
Zaca Mesa Winery, Los Olivos
Families are welcome to come with their dogs and enjoy a picnic or play a game on the enormous chessboard.
Related: Guide to the Best BC Wineries by Region
Final Thoughts on these Family-Friendly California Wineries
If you are looking for a new family-friendly destination this summer, consider California’s wine country. Dozens of wineries in the state offer special activities and accommodations to keep kids entertained while adults enjoy some time away from their children.
Many of these vineyards have play areas, animals on-site, outdoor games, grape juice tasting stations for toddlers–and even more surprises just waiting to be discovered! Check out our list of kid-friendly vineyards if you’re planning your next vacation or weekend getaway with friends and family.
We do everything we can to keep the accuracy of this list updated. However, rules can change at any time, so please call ahead before traveling to confirm your conditions. Dog-friendly wineries require that dogs be leashed and behaved.
Casandra Karpiak is a travel writer and the co-owner of Savoteur. A Toronto native with Danish roots currently residing in British Columbia, her travel writing has been seen on The Associated Press wire, MSN, CBS, NBC, Entrepreneur, 24/7 Wall St, Times Daily, and many more.
You can follow her travel adventures on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.