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Do babies and wine ever mix?

Sunday, December 20th, 2009 by:
My six-month-old explores a Niagara Vineyard

My six-month-old explores a Niagara Vineyard

I’ve brought a child to a winery twice. Both times my baby was under age one. We went for a walk through the vineyard to look at the grapes, played on the grass and then enjoyed a relaxing dinner and glass of wine on the patio. My baby sat in his highchair happily looking at all the activity going on around him. My husband and I each enjoyed one glass of wine. After a great afternoon, we drove home. Does this make me a bad parent? According to some people, yes.

Last year, we posted our baby-friendly wine route. Since then, we have received countless emails (from people calling themselves “Sour Grapes,” “Happily Single”  and–my favorite– “Concerned Non-Parent”) chastising us for posting a list of wineries that encourage families to visit.

I’ve been told parents should have a zero tolerance for alcohol if there children are around. “Even one ounce is too much.” I’ve been told having a glass of wine in the presence of a child is the same as taking a hit of cocaine. I’ve been told wineries should be a sanctuary for adults and it should be illegal to bring a child.

I’ve often wondered why some North Americans feel that adults need to change their entire life the second a baby comes into the world. In other areas of the world family-life is encouraged and children are considered an asset not a hinderence. Wouldn’t it make more sense for me to teach my child how to behave in public and for me to want to spend time with them rather than than leaving them with a nanny while I carry on with my “so-called adult life?” Should I really only bring my children out in public twice a year for a visit to Chuck E. Cheese?

I avoided visiting a winery when my first-born turned one because I was worried he might act out. Now that he’s almost three I will try again soon. If he does act out, I’ll leave. As parents can we please use common sense when bringing our children to a winery or restaurant? If a child acts out–leave. If not, stay and enjoy. It’s that simple.

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6 Responses to “Do babies and wine ever mix?”

  1. Justine Says:

    Great post! Good thoughts.. children under 1 are easier at a winery b/c they’re not too mobile yet. From a winery perspective, children are always welcome, and we (Caroline Cellars) offer local grape juice to kids. The problem is often inattentive or distracted parents when the kids are a bit older and get bored quickly.. there are a lot of fragile things in winery stores! As long as parents are able to keep their kids occupied or watch the kiddies closely, wineries are okay places for kids. And of course there are a lot of other kid-focused things to do in Niagara, so it’s only fair that the kids get to visit some of those to keep them happy! Good luck on your next trip with your toddler!

  2. Around the Web… – Celebrity Baby Blog – People.com Says:

    […] babies and wineries ever mix? — Just the Facts, […]

  3. A. Wine Lover Says:

    I received this from a family-operated winery:

    From a winery perspective, and as a new mom, I’m not opposed to baby/children at the winery, however they tend to get bored, and if the parents are too busy tasting and not paying attention to the kids, they tend to get into trouble (there are often a lot of fragile items in a winery!). Babies are usually easier before they’re mobile. And I’m not opposed to parents having a glass of wine while the kids are around!

  4. Michele Bosc Says:

    There are as many different views on this subject as there are visitors to a winery. I can tell you that when our son was three days old he made his first visit to our winery. After all it is his family legacy. On many occasions since then he has accompanied either his dad or me as we have conducted tours. So I guess Chateau des Charmes would be considered family friendly. But there are limitations to anything. If a parent wants to bring a child to a winery there are definitely “rules” that should be minded, similar to bringing a child to a restaurant. The child must be under the parents’ supervision at ALL times. Wineries are working buildings with far too many safety hazards to allow a child of any age to wander. Also please be respectful of other guests in your vicinity. Lastly, if the child is under legal drinking age that child CANNOT sample the wines, even if a parent offers a sample. A winery could loose its license to manufacture if caught.

    One other item I will mention because it is a constant challenge for many wineries with adjacent vineyards…NEVER (adult or child) venture into a vineyard without a staff escort or otherwise posted that it is safe to do so. I notice in your picture there is a residue on the leaves. This could be an anti-fungal spray based of sulfur and copper or it could be a pesticide. A visitor would have no way of knowing. If it is the former, considered an “organic” spray” you or your child may have a sulfur allergy and not know it.This could be potentially dangerous. Moreover a visitor would have no way of known if that particular block of vines is due to be worked by a tractor.The potential hazards are numerous.

    In the end please remember that while a vineyard visit can be lovely, bucolic and romantic it also has numerous rules that are in place for the safety and enjoyment of all guests. Big kids (a.k.a adults) and little kids need to be mindful of these rules so that we can all enjoy winery visits for years to come.

    Thank you.
    Michele Bosc
    Chateau des Charmes
    Niagara, Ontario

  5. Nancy Ripton Says:

    We didn’t go walking through the vineyards, just along the road but I never would have thought about sprays or pesticides–good thing I didn’t take a bite!

    A great warning for any potential grape snatchers.

  6. A Wine Lover Says:

    Wineries should post a sign as they do in MANY California wineries – such as:
    “Unattended Children will be Sold as Grape Stompers”

    “Unattended Children will be Served a Double Espresso and Given a Free Puppy”

    These would get the parents’ attention as their priceless little children are running amok in the winery.