By Elisa Huot

Former educator, toddler parent, and Paso Robles resident

As an ’80s baby growing up in the Central Valley, I have fond memories of traveling to the Central Coast and accompanying my parents on their wine-tasting adventures. My sister and I would sample several varieties of mustards with little pretzel sticks as the grown-ups imbibed different varietals of wine. Some people will simply say that you should never bring kids to a winery. In Paso Robles, we live life like we are on vacation, taking advantage of the abundant surroundings and including our children whenever possible. 

Several wineries tout themselves as family-friendly while some quietly mention it, and others are an absolute “no.” It would be hard to imagine little ones running around a particularly high-dollar establishment on an impressive hilltop, but it is not so unreasonable to see families enjoying live music on the lawns at Castoro and Venteux. Like pet-friendly establishments, many winery owners will tell you their willingness to welcome pets and kids is often dependent on the individual dogs or families and how their behavior impacts the experience for other guests. Either way, calling ahead to be sure the winery you are planning to visit is kid-friendly is always a good idea. 


While there is a list of family-friendly wineries available from the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance (, wineries can change ownership at any time, and it is the responsibility of the wineries themselves to keep that status up to date. Calling ahead also allows for the staff to see if there are any conflicting reservations, such as large parties or special occasions. Peachy Canyon is a popular spot for families because of the large grassy area that is perfect for picnics, apple juice for kiddos, and the oversized Adirondack chair great for photo ops. Still, they do ask that you include your little ones when making a reservation. 

Taking the family outing outside is the best way to go. Noise levels can increase with the acoustics of vaulted ceilings and hard floors. Tasting rooms, designed for adults, are full of breakables like wine bottles, glasses, and merchandise that should not be handled by children. If you prefer the tasting room experience, take turns with another adult. Remember that it can be difficult for tasting room attendants to do their jobs properly if the environment becomes chaotic. Buying a bottle to take outside is another option. Many local wineries, like Rava and Calcareous, boast breathtaking grounds that provide ample space for kids to run and explore. 

At Fabelist Wine Co., kids can inspect an abandoned train car and enjoy gelato. Rails Nap offers activity bags for kids in addition to their large outdoor deck. Whalebone Vineyard provides sidewalk chalk and outdoor games. Barton Family Wines also has outdoor games that are set away from the tasting area. Keep in mind that tractors, farm equipment, and winemaking equipment are not playgrounds. Some locations may advertise vineyard tours, but allowing your children to run unattended through the vines can damage irrigation lines or result in confrontations with wildlife like rattlesnakes. Be mindful of the proximity of your children to other groups, clean up after your party, and tip generously.

Wineries with restaurants are popular with families. Eating lunch keeps the kids occupied, allowing for a more relaxed tasting experience. On the weekends, Kitchen 46 at Lone Madrone serves up a mountainous plate of french fries with ketchup that is sure to please kiddos of all ages. Considering that weekends will be the busiest, another alternative is to taste during the week, closer to opening. You can still include lunch with your plans by packing a picnic. Bring toys, games, or activities. Not all wineries will provide such items. Scheduling a private tasting appointment or tour allows for individualized attention and removes the concern of disrupting others. The aim is for everyone to have fun, little ones and other patrons alike. Wine tasting is a break from the hustle and bustle, a chance to get lost in something outside ourselves. Cheers! 


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