June 28, 2017


As soon as you read Napa, what comes to mind? Wine and lots of it! I pictured walking the streets of Napa vineyard-hopping shall we say. I can honestly say doing it with kids wouldn't necessarily be my first option. Nonetheless we did it and we had an awesome time (once we got past all of the idiosyncrasies of Napa)!

We were spoiled in Northern Virginia. So... the wines aren't the best in the world but the ambience and the kid/family-friendly vibe made up for it. And speaking for myself, I actually really liked the wines. Napa on the other hand: well, their idea of kid-friendly is just allowing them to walk in the door. They barely have water for the kids, no snacks available and often you can't bring outside food, nothing for them to do and nowhere for them to play. Oh! And they only stay open until 5pm. Phew! Do you sense the frustration?

It was a challenge. I was ready to take it head on. I must have called 15 wineries over our week stay to find the select few that met our criteria. 1. Kid-friendly 2. No cover charge 3. Sells wine by the glass, as well as the bottle. 

What we learned was that a lot of places will charge you $25 or more to get into the winery. Yes, it includes a tasting of 4-5 wines, but add a few kids on top of that for a whopping $15 per child (with grape juice included- big whoop!) and we are talking $95 for our family of 5 just to walk into a place. UMMMMM NO! Hence the last two things on our list of criteria: no cover charge and offers wines by the glass. We didn't want to end up having to purchase a tasting (and an overpriced one at that) to then have our threenager break down with a tantrum and have to make a quick exit. 

Again, we were spoiled by the wineries in Virginia. When we visited wineries our kids would always be with us. All of them offered drinks and snacks and had sprawling lawns for them to run and play. They also offered at most $15 tastings (and sometimes FREE) for all of the available wines. Ah well, I'm not in VA anymore, Toto. *Forgive the Wizard of Oz reference.*

All that being said (aka rambling) we found 5 places we thought were worth visiting: 

1. Inglenook screamed fancy pants. When you arrive you have to go to the information center so they will let you in the massive front gates. When the French woman guides you in you just smile and nod (all the while giddy laughter is going on in the car) because you have no idea what you are entering into. "Aren't you glad you dressed up a bit, guys?" was the first thing out of my mouth. These kids think wearing a collared shirt is considered dressing "nice," I'm just glad it wasn't a battle and I was able to get the boys out of their sports gear. 

It was a rather sprawling estate with rolling hills. The buildings were beautiful and charming. We couldn't figure out where to enter so we went into what looked like the main entrance. We were greeted by a lovely woman who smerked and sent us to a tiny room on the far corner of the building (almost shoo-ing us out). We were in the adult tour area it seemed. Anyway, once in the bistro we were greeted by a lovely Frenchmen who asked us what we'd like and seeing as though I'd heard of the wooden boats the kids asked if they could use them. "Of course!" he replied in his French accent and off we went. We headed outside glass of wine in hand and wooden sailboats to play with in the fountain. We enjoyed our glass of wine as we nervously watched Cayenne nearly fall in the fountain or hit her brothers in the head with her stick numerous times. 

The excitement lasted all of 45 minutes and we were off. The kids were done and we wanted to try to visit another place before 5! 

2. Peju Province was a place we'd passed that I called on the road (to see if it would meet our criteria) as I hadn't heard of it before. It was very close to Inglenook so we figured we'd give it a try. The grounds were very pretty but not a lot of space to play so we wandered around a bit, took some photos and listened to our kids complain about the lack of kids drinks and headed out rather quickly. Definitely not on my will recommend for people with kids, but I can definitely see the draw for someone hosting an adult-oriented event.

3. Larson Family Winery was my absolute favorite winery in Napa. It checked every box for all of us! The kids were rather skeptical after our first winery experience in Napa but this changed their mind. We were greeted by the family dogs, then walked into a large tasting room but headed outside to where the magic happens. It was perfect-- games galore, room to run and be free and just beautiful scenery. YES and YES! 

How Cayenne smells flowers
Then she goes ALL in-- and came back out with pollen all over her nose and mouth!

The three below pictures crack me up. Cayenne was so sad to leave this toy. She was sitting there just talking to it and telling it that she had to go, but it'd be ok. She had a whole lengthy conversation, but that's the part I understood. It was so CUTE!

We miss you, too Larson Family Winery!

4. We didn't get many pictures of Ceja and although it didn't have sprawling grounds or room to roam it was top-notch. The people running this place would make you want to come back for more. They come from humble beginnings and their story is incredible. We arrived a few minutes before closing to just see if we could make it. We were greeted by the son of the owner's. He was trimming vines out front and welcomed us in even though they'd just closed the doors. He said he would have to close but he was happy to give us a plastic cup for outside. We spoke for a while and he shared his family's passion and their future with us including a brewery next door (where E opted to try). 

Evidence that on our 2nd winery attempt we were prepared- chips and salsa and drinks for the kids

5. No, this isn't a winery, but the Jelly Belly Factory is a must-see when in Napa with kids. As in, you HAVE TO GO! It was even enjoyable for the parents and really, who doesn't love jelly belly jelly beans? There has to be at least one flavor you like. 

We pulled up and saw two signs that told us we were meant to be there: a jelly belly Ford Flex and an RV! The two vehicles we own! 

The smell area-- guess the flavor!

The interactive game where you catch the jelly beans

With their free pack of jelly beans

Here are a few pictures of the place we called home for a couple weeks. Nature at it's finest.

Next stop is a special trip to San Francisco!

1 comment:

  1. Forever memories, looks wonderful, Papaw & Granny