Wineries tend to be family businesses and therefore there is usually a resident dog and a few resident kids. Some have multi- generations and grandparents as well.
Wineries can also be big business and as a result the charm of a family run business that is either sold out to a multinational or merged often looses what was created through family love.
The Hunter Valley has a sprinkling of family friendly wineries as does the Barossa. In my mind the Yarra Valley doesn’t want any children anywhere near them. Mclaren Vale was once rustic and romantic and would of welcomed anyone with open arms, but as they become more commercial they too are judging the type of clientele they would like. Adelaide Hills are on par with the Yarra Valley.
And yet in comparison there is the Margaret River. If there is anywhere that do wineries with kids, it’s Western Australia’s Margaret River. Firstly they have space. Secondly they add children’s menus. And last of all, they build playgrounds. No second rate patch of gravel being called a botchi ground here. They have slides, swings and climbing equipment. When they don’t have a playground, they tend to have outdoor games like giant Jenga and Connect Four. If all those are missing, there is bound to be a rolling lawn.
My girlfriend married a winemaker and their family winery is based in Orange. She has four boys so hard to imagine they could upgrade the winery without some thought to children. They have created a layered garden with mini soccer on one level and patanque on another. There are fire pits for groups and the Friday night wood fired pizza night seems to be the go for all the locals in the know. Look it up – Philip Shaw winery. I know they have plans to continue to grow and develop their little slice of the world.
I get wineries are about tasting wine. But is that all they stand for? I don’t think so. If you look at a wineries history it will mostly involve a dedicated family that grew it from one vine to many. The additional restaurants and event departments are usually created by an interested offspring with a different passion. Wineries are often located in charming little areas.
Take Mitchelton winery for example in Nagambie, Victoria. As a generalisation, it’s a dry and unattractive area. But upon visiting their cellar door, there are large spacious lawns over looking the river. Huge grey gum trees surround you. Its the prettiest spot. You can just imagine throwing out a picnic rug and dining on cheese as you consume the vineyards wines and the kids run around (hopefully your kids are not too free range and don’t wander down the banks to the river) Unfortunately the winery want only adult guests in their restaurant and do not cater for kids. It’s such a shame. They have just built a day spa, providing further confirmation that this is not a place for children. There has been an added bonus to the winery – the Ministry of Chocolate. I am not sure this is a good thing for kids or not. Depends how you feel about chocolate or rather your children after chocolate.
Yalumba is an example of a family run big business. And boy do I like it. I like the story and all the quirky family members who live and work there. The taste of love in every bottle along with creativity and excitement, is music to the soul. Children however, are not included, apart from a pile of toys in a corner. They could do so much better. There’s a botchi area but seems it was added as a ‘that-will-do’ rather than really thinking through what their customers would like.
D’Arenberg is another family vineyard that has generation upon generation of wine makers making exquisite wines. D’Arry’s restaurant does not cater for kids. They have limited space and this could be a good enough excuse but this is a business built by generation after generation. Certainly they understand children? I was afraid for our childs life in this place, then again not being a wine professional it may of been me they disliked and not my child!
So as a family does that mean you can’t go wine tasting? Not at all. Read below for alist of wineries that make life easier for the family that travels together.
Wineries to visit with children
Western Australia –
Eagle Bay Brewery (Dunsborough WA)
Has large lawns overlooking Eagle Bay. They have shared food platters to suit groups and a family. Not strictly a winery, but same same but different.
Aravina Estate (Yallingup WA)
This winery has not only rolling lawns but a menu catering for children. They have an on premise kitchen garden. The service was fabulous and very accommodating to our consistent family demands. (Food on the side and sauce with this and not with that type requests) The playground is great but being a mother of sons the highlight was the sport car gallery.
Swings and Roundabouts (Yallingup WA)
This vineyard have so much to do for kids it’s almost as if the adults don’t exist. their website explains ‘This is our home so we’ve equipped it with all that is important to us. We’ve got a wood fire pizza oven, lots of comfy leather sofas and of course great wines. Sit out on the verandah or bring a picnic rug and relax in our backyard and the pizza oven fires up every day for lunch.’ along with images of kids playing tennis on a pole. It’s a fabulous winery for families to visit.
Jacobs Creek (Barossa SA)
This winery has a lawn outside scattered with beanbags and balls scattered around for play. Inside the beautiful light and clean tasting room is a small table with toys for children.
Green Olive Vineyard (Main Ridge, Vic)
Being just as much an olive grove as it is vineyard, their business is not entirely reliant upon the winery. As such they are adaptable and they cater for families. The farm and gardens are beautiful and your kids will enjoy the sense of country life. They have an in ground trampoline which provides not only the opportunity to let of some energy but also entertains while you pop into the farm shop.
Montalto (Mornington Peninsular)
Another olive grove and a vineyard but with the added bonus of a delightful wetlands walk. They express they ‘want everyone to feel rewarded for time shared’ and it is that philosophy that is applied everywhere. as such children are part of the everyone. The wetland walk really is a lovely meandering boardwalk through the wetland is both peaceful and enjoyable. The natural springs on the property and the help of clearing blackberries have created an unique habitat for over 90 species of birds and animals. They are everywhere as you mozzey on along the path. This place offers a range of food, a restaurant, a café and picnics. The later two being more child friendly.
Yerring Station (Yarra Valley, VIC)
This one is a one hour drive form Melbourne and as such is easily accessible form the city. The history of the property dates back to 1950’s when the purchase of 43,000 acres was made. Having changed hands several times throughout the decades, the Rathbone family purchased the property in 1996 and family ownership and ideals are very much a part of their business. this is a fancy pants meal with amazing views but believe me it is still child friendly. Sometimes you just gotta teach them how to behave? Plenty of room to run after lunch.
Rochford Wines (Yarra Valley, VIC)
The Winery has a a large array of facilities including a restaurant, a cafe, a cellar, a shop, and an art gallery. There is an observation tower but being scared of heights I cannot tell you what is like! . They market themselves as more than just a winery but a total experience. The children’s menu is not your standard junk food but an effort to still provide the staples with a bit of effort. The restaurant was more than happy to take the menu items and divide it for our children. The extra service with children is always greatly appreciated. There are many different menus based on where you are dining so be sure to read through them all to find what is right for you.
Oakridge Wines (Yarra Valley, VIC)
This vineyard are a community player. What does that mean? Oakridge in the Community (click here for further information) shows the wineries commitment to the community beyond where they live. They are partners with OZ Harvest and Room to Read. If you don’t eat here or spend time in the cellar door you can explain to the kids how some businesses feel it is important to give back and the difference this makes to the world. But, I would advise not missing the cellar door. This is an upmarket operation and there is plenty of accessibility for prams etc. but the wines are the prize here. So many kid friendly cellar doors are not the best wines, good, but not the best. Not here, good wine and plenty of open space.
New South Wales
De Bortoli (Pokolbin,NSW)
Being a third generation family run business and the Italian family values of sharing and inclusion run through not only their business but their cellar door. Locale is the name of their on site restaurant and they have a children’s menu. If you are in the Hunter with kids but you want to visit a couple of wineries make sure De Bortoli is on your list.
Peteresons is the best place in the area for breakfast and should wine tasting fisrt thing not be your thing, you can always have brunch and taste afterwards. The cellar door itself is not very child friendly but there is plenty of room outside to run around while you are inside tasting the area’s sparklings.