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    Kid-Friendly Wineries in Napa Valley, CA – And Parent-Approved Family Days

    You read that correctly!

    Usually I don’t – just don’t – bother taking the kids out to Napa when I’m in the Bay Area because #1) Whyyy #2) Don’t you want to have fun? and #3) When I think of wine tasting in Napa, I think about all my senses being on overload so why add screaming, whining kids to the mix? 😉

    A day presented itself to me in that I was already going to be out in that area. I had a designated driver, so when I saw that Napa was only another 20 minute drive up, I figured, I know the kids are with me, but this mama needs a bit of a treat and a place to rest!

    But what about your kids? Isn’t that selfish? Let me put this kindly… not everything is about the kids. So many sensitive parents will take that the wrong way. I want to be very clear here. I make sure these kids have so many days during the week where it’s about them and their needs. Okay, maybe not whole days, but whole dedicated afternoons. It’s that mom-guilt I can’t get over. You know, I work hard for two days and I notice they’ve mostly been home.. they play, watch tv, entertain themselves.. but I end up feeling so incredibly guilty that I didn’t get them out of the house to do something fun – which means, money spent. It got to the point where if my kids “didn’t do anything all day” it was almost like they were EXPECTING me to take them to some sort of fun-zone-money-pit because poor them, staying home all day. When I realized I was doing these things more out of guilt and not because I actually wanted to do this… I had to stop myself, because I was now turning in to the very parent that I criticize and cannot stand.

    I can share some moments of guilt recently and most of them are when I am gone all weekend due to a wedding. That following Monday where I have to just rest-in? Technically MY DAY? One Monday after a wedding weekend I took them straight to Target to pick out toys: $30. Okay $50 because I needed a couple things from that awful place. 😉 Then I took to lunch of their choice! Not that they had the biggest request… somewhere with really good chicken nuggets. Clearly the options are slim for healthy, delicious chicken nuggets to this place got me for $40 – what! I had to eat too… Then a movie! Let’s all go see a movie! Well $30 later in tickets, these two want popcorn and root beer – another $20! After the movie I was so exhausted and ready to go home and they asked me to take them to this Hop N Play place… another $20 for them to jump and run around. Actually adding this all up? That’s not a bad day for an outing. But here’s the kicker.. on the way home, the whining came in. They wanted to go to the park and I said no.. so they were upset.

    Okay. Now I’M UPSET. I pull the car over to sternly talk to these two about how awful their attitudes have been lately with all these expectations on me. Yes, yes I did! I might have even made threats about throwing their toys away when we got home. The ungratefulness was just appalling and I told myself that was the last time.

    For the past two years I had Disney passes for the whole family JUST so I could take them out for the whole day. Every parent knows a day in Disney is #1) Not cheap, even if the entrance is free and #2) NOT A DAY OFF! You’re dealing with angry tyrants half the day because if you don’t say NO to every toy they want you will leave there broke. It took several trips to finally train these kids to stop asking/stop expecting – and this training was filled with time outs, dark corners where I turn in to the Mr. Hyde version of myself, and even months spaced where we didn’t go back to this horrible place. But how silly that the guilt is there… that I have to take my one free day to drive them out to Anaheim just so I don’t feel like a terrible mother that week? Oh heck no! This has got to stop.

    Then I was reminded of my youth. Oh the flashbacks. I could recall a day where we were all quite young, and my dad took us to Cerritos to look at cars. Lesson learned: my father never goes to a dealership to LOOK at a car. He goes to purchase. And we lived an hour away from this place. Long story short… we were in this dealership for 10 hours! TEN HOURS because of negotiating, trade-ins, and waiting on a wire transfer from the Philippines (meaning waiting until someone in Manila WOKE UP to get this transfer going..) What did we do? This was in the early 90’s. There weren’t iPads to keep us company! There weren’t play areas for kids. Nope! There were magazines and vending machines. I think we likely had 6 packs of Doritos each.. and had to just use our imaginations BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY: we couldn’t complain. The day I described above that my kids are used to getting once a week? Yeah, we were lucky to have a day like that twice a YEAR. And we were grateful. Although I still shake my head when I think about that day… ten hours.

    Now, I am not saying that I would put my kids through this same kind of day, but it did dawn on me that not every day has to be about their happiness. Because they’re kids! Their happiness is fleeting. One minute they’re thrilled, the next they’re fighting and could care less about what you just spent on them. Lately the line I’ve been telling them is “we don’t have to go somewhere every day. Or every week. We don’t have to take you kids somewhere you deem “fun”. It’s not about you. I’ve been prepping them lately to stop expecting things. How? Well.. I take them to Target for an errand. They look at the toys in the toy section. They get NOTHING. Ohh.. I had to do this several times. “We aren’t here for toys. We are here for ___ & ___ and we are leaving.” I wait for it. If a fit is thrown or a bad mood – or literally the EVIL EYE from my daughter, I correct that instantly!

    Back to my day at Napa! I googled up some kid-friendly wineries and I was pleasantly surprised that more than a handful came up! I mean, that’s more than you need! Honestly, 3 wineries in one day is plenty. We didn’t make the whole day about wine tasting either. I just needed to go to ONE to feel.. well, significantly better. We checked out Turnbull Wine Cellars which became a favorite of mine a few years ago when Jeff and I took a random weekend trip out. They have dogs at this vineyard that are meant to just play and entertain guests of all ages. The sweetest things! Inside the tasting room there’s an art gallery for adults, and outside there’s an area where the kids can play and take in some sun and fresh air. Mine made new friends. Of course other parents who were there had a similar mindset to me. That’s a plus in taking the kids to kid-friendly wineries actually! Meeting other non-judgmental parents who are like-minded? Wow. It’s like a jackpot in the parenting community. Almost like a “where have you been all my life!?”

    Side note: When parents wanna meet one another in public, and are in dire need of social contact that is with another adult, they love to start the conversation with “So, how old are your kids?” Always. Never fails. It’s like the easiest ice-breaker. Too bad if you ask my kids how old they are to their faces they will answer and then ask you YOUR age, so be weary of this.. I mean, now you know their age and it’s only fair to tell them yours. 😉

    Other amazing wineries to check out while in Napa if you are bringing the kids along (and a designated driver!) would be:

    1. Castillo de Amorosa – this one is a CASTLE, so you will win big time points with your children and guests! You feel as though you’re in 13th century Tuscany as you enjoy the calming views around you.. well, until someone bumps in to you with their iPad as they’re trying to capture the same scenery. Then you’re reminded it’s 2016. In the tasting area there’s a huge art table where they can color and enjoy some snacks while you taste some delicious wine. For those in ages 5-20, there is an hour long tour of the castle with stops along the way to take in a Medieval armory, a dungeon replica, torture chamber, the historic main hall, chapel and courtyard, along with the wine caves and a wine tasting for parents. For the under 5 crowd, a mini-farm full of animals and plenty of room to run invite supervised exploration.
    2. Sterling Vineyards – this one is great if you don’t mind spending some extra money of the kids being there. $10 each kid but it comes with a tour! You get the bird’s eye view of the Mayacamas Mountain Range as you stroll through the onsite art collection. Lots to see, and their pairings are quite on point!
    3. V. Sattui Winery – If picnic-ing is your thing, this is the one I would suggest checking out. They have an on-site, old world deli that boasts a lovely array of choices from meats, cheeses, and bread options. Outside they have picnic tables that are scattered around the estate overlooking vineyards and resting beneath the shade of old oak trees.

    Of course all I’ve listed above are nice to go to as well without children… so you can take this list for what it is. If you don’t want to see kids while wine-tasting, don’t go to any of the above mentioned places. 🙂

    So I know it’s too late for a “new years resolution”, but I certainly plan on treating myself too when I get a day off. The kids can tag along if they want and plan on being behaved. We have to be a little* selfish with our time, after all. <3

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    Photos by: Natalia Cruz

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