Poll: should kids be banned from wineries?

Discussion on a recent posting highlighted that the new Sattui castle winery in Napa has a “no kids” policy, which set off brief exchange with one reader supporting it. One dad emailed that he thought there should be a “no asshole” policy instead. As a wine-loving dad, I certainly enjoy going to wineries with my wife and four-year old–heck, we’ve even been to NYC wine bars together, though at an early hour.

So I thought I would give this a more public airing with a poll. What do you say: should kids be banned from wineries?

Thanks for voting; poll now closed.

Related: “At Wineries, the Visitors Can Be Young and Bubbly: Napa Valley” (NY Times, May 22, 2005)


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39 Responses to “Poll: should kids be banned from wineries?”

  1. Though it is reasonable to restrict the alcohol consumption of minors, this constant attempt to shelter them from alcohol is moralistic. This kinds of protection are based on the assumption that somehow it is morally wrong to drink wine and minors exposure to such behavior is indecent and will lead them to eventual alcoholism. In Europe, countries that are more relaxed about these issues are not more probe to alcoholism. Funnily, in America, youth rebels in all that is forbidden and has a high incidence of substance abuse including alcohol. A healthy culture realizes that moderation and balance are more successful than repression. But if we go this far, should we not split families in restaurants with smoking sections and force children to eat in the non-smoking area? Drinking at least stays with the person who consumes the beverage, smoking is always communal.

  2. I agree that we shouldn’t shelter children from alcohol and thus villify it. However, I have a feeling that the purpose behind this ban has more to do with incompetant parenting and the resulting ill-behaved children in the tasting room. We’ve all been in tasting rooms and restaurants where a kid is screaming and the parent(s) don’t seem to be phased or have the common decency to remove them. Maybe the rule should be “bring your kid, but if you can’t control them, we reserve the right to ban you for life”

  3. I’m with Adam on this one. It’s not a question of moralistically shielding children from the horrors of wine consumption. It’s about making the tour enjoyable for the adults who aren’t there with kids.

    Since the winery is primarily there for adults, the kids should take the backseat. And if they’re disruptive, they should get the boot.

    “Well-behaved children welcome” ? Fine with me.

    I’m not voting in this poll. Neither option reflects my view.

  4. During the day, for a tour, lunch or whatever…. well behaved kids should of course be welcomed. Assuming that is, that when a child begins to act up — a responsible parent will address the situation…. even leave if necessary.

    Wine making is science being used in real life and can be a great learning experience the whole family can enjoy together.

    If it’s an evening occassion — perhaps the younger kids should stay home.

  5. The parents should be asked upon entering the winery as to why their kids are joining them. If it’s because the parents think the kids might have fun seeing what the winemaking process is like or that the kid is interested in something that has to do with the winery, then let them in. If it’s because the parents couldn’t find a babysitter, then direct them to the nearest movie theater.

  6. I agree. I don’t think children should be banned, but I do believe that parents must take responsibility for their children’s behavior and leave if necessary. The winery could ask them to leave if they have to, but (and I haven’t read anything else about this winery’s decision) I wonder if they decided that banning kids was easier than having to deal with difficult kids case by case.

  7. First, parents have to be able to control their kid’s behavior at a winery or anywhere else. The kid having a bad day/moment… maybe not the right time to visit the winery. Also, I have not read anything about the winerie’s decision. BUT… I disagree that parents should be turned away just because they could not find a babysitter. What if you are not the type of parent that is able to leave kids with babysitters but enjoy visiting wineries? Are we going to ban parents from visiting tasting rooms for 10 to 15 years until the kids are grown up. We are talking about parents who may be between the ages of 25 and 40… a critical segment of the population that wineries need/should tap into. What are wineries doing to welcome these parents who do bring their kids along with them? I don’t own a winery but if I do one day, I will make sure that these parents are welcomed along with their kids. There are many ways to accomplish a situation that benefits everyone without having to turn people away.

  8. We definitely do not believe kids should be banned from wineries. We don’t want make families feel uncomfortable in our tasting room. The majority of kids we have had have been well behaved, with the disruptive ones so few as to count on one hand.

  9. It feels to me that there are more and more stories of businesses not welcoming children. Here in Chicago there was a coffee shop that put up a sign that offended many in the neighborhood telling them not to bring their children inside. Then in the suburbs there is a community cutting off a section of the beach to be “Adult only”. I wonder if this is a reflection on the parenting abilities of this generation or more a reflection of the amount of childless adults outnumbering the ones with families? I would be very interested to see those numbers…and learn exactly why there are so many places cutting out children from their establishments. Personally, I can see both sides of bringing children to a winery. On one hand they can be both destructive and disruptive, but on the other, it could be a great family outing, teaching the children the wine making process could be very educational.

  10. The only reason I’m against kids at a winery or tour is not because of the *kids,* but because the parenting skills of those who bring their children tend to disintegrate as they taste more wine. When I go to a winery, tasting, wine bar (fill in the blank), I don’t want to be distracted by screaming kids, especially since I find myself worried about the welfare of the kids because the parents are either too preoccupied, tipsy, or uncaring to take care of their responsibilities. Darren made a good point. There are parents, if told that their kids are disruptive and it’s time to leave, will get belligerent and confrontational. Banning everybody makes it easier for the winery as well as cutting down on liability (kids in a place that serves alcohol) as well. I don’t see a problem.

    Just like anyone else here, I believe in wine as a food group. But there is alcohol, and that has nothing to do with morality.

  11. I totally agree with Irene. The main reason I am against children at a winery is because irresponsible parents will invariably allow poor behavior. This is an adult activity, and behavior should be within the bounds as set forth for such activities. If the little ones can abide by these “rules” then they should be allowed in. If not, leave them at home.

    As for Marco’s comment, if you can’t find a babysitter and you don’t anticipate you can control your little darlings, then STAY HOME. You elected to give birth, now own up to your responsibility. Raising children involves sacrifice. If you can’t visit wineries because you chose to have children, that’s just part of the deal. Don’t inflict poorly behaving children on the world just because you can’t find a babysitter.

  12. In Europe it is fine to bring along children, less so here in England. Again the key reason is behaviour rather than prohibition.

    It’s fun to take children lots of places, it’s also hell on wheels to be somewhere with other peoples badly behaved children, unsupervised and over indulged.

    If you think it’s OK to let you kid run around a coffee shop, shout and throw food in a restaurant, lick exhibits in museums or colour in artwork in churches, then maybe a winery visit isn’t for you!

    If your family enjoys learning, is ready to listen and stay close by, and underage people understand that although wine with dinner at home is good, it’s illegal to ask the vineyard employees to give you a tasting sample, then check in advance that children are welcome, pay any entrance fee expected without quibbling about childrens rates and enjoy!

  13. I’ll assume the ‘asshole’ comment was directed at me, though I’m not the one who brings badly-behaved, screaming, tantrum-throwing children into a place where adults just want to taste great wine and concentrate on such an adult pleasure. In Brooklyn, there was a woman who started posting something called ‘The Stroller Manifesto’ (Google it) around the bars in my neighborhood. There’s a reason for it. People who bring kids to bars and wineries justify their actions through hundreds of badly constructed arguments (see above), but it’s just plain selfish to put the MAJORITY of the clientelle through such an imposition. I’m aware that there are parents who know how to control unruly children and who have raised their kids not to embarrass the hell out of them when in a public place, but that’s not really the point for me. And it’s not about some phoney moralistic values crap theory either (teens don’t rebel and drink wine, brain surgeon, they smoke weed, drink hard alcohol and pop mommy’s perscription meds); save that argument for Freshman Comp papers. It’s about being put out and having to constantly adapt your lifestyle to this neverending breeding cycle….and about just not wanting to listen to your screaming kid.

  14. avwineguy, I think you missed part of my point. If wineries have a blank policy of “no kids”, even if I know that my kid will behave or otherwise I will handle it appropriately… I won’t be allowed to enter. Why should I be punished for the fact that other parents don’t know any better or can control their kids? We can take this to other places… for example restaurants, book stores, coffee shops. You got kids? Sorry, get a babysitter or go home. The other part of my point is that wineries could actually benefit from a open door to family visits, but that’s a bit out of the context of this discussion.

  15. It is said that having wine at the dinner table more than likely fosters a mature attitude to alcohol in general. I believe this may be true.

  16. Sal, I fail to understand why you seem to attack some of the posts here, including mine. I find it very eye opening to read other peoples comments and thoughts. I have already benefitted from reading these. Only open discussion leads to understanding and consensus.

    We do not have kids, but ALL our friends in the same age range as ours (30’s) do. We have learned to adapt to enjoy their company as a unit. There are things we can’t do with them as frequently as before, like go to a jazz concert, or, for that matter, have them over for a glass of wine, but have certainly derived as much pleasure from witnessing children and family bonds grow. We are not against kids or families, but we do not want to start one at this point, perhaps never will.

    I live in a neighborhood of Brooklyn that has exploded with families in the last decade (Cobble Hill). Moms gang up and take over businesses in raids. Often kids will get a bit out of hand and often parents will ignore them, allowing them to obviously bug the hell out of other customers. It seems that these moms are too tired of their own kids to enforce any limits on their behavior. Commonly, these ladies are pregnant with a second (or third!) child… you wonder why they get into more and longer commitment to dealing with kids.

    In any case, the point I want to make is, that it is simply unrealistic, to expect that everyone out there is just at the same level of education and skill on family management and there will always be parents who think imposing any form of control on their child’s behavior is bad parenting. It is more realistic, I think, to expect that businesses that want to open their establishments to families should draw a simple set of conduct rules. “If your child is being loud, please take him outside until he/she calms down” kind of thing. Post these or make families aware of them upon admission and politely enforce them if a family does not seem to remember during a child’s tantrum, for instance, by asking them to take it outside.

    I think there is a lot to gain socially in the long term by integrating all ages into a healthy wine culture. Including, yes, as I stated before, a more balanced view of alcohol and its moderate consumption, but also, a more compassionate view of families. Families are, after all, the basic, and first, social unit all of us interact with, and the foundation for all our future social habits, including wine tasting. A more embracive attitude can only benefit us all if done properly.

  17. Marco:

    Read the whole comment. It says “if you can’t find a babysitter and you don’t anticipate you can control your little darlings, then STAY HOME”.

    If you are one of those seemingly rare parents who can keep their children from behaving like, well, children temporarily, then I have no problem with your children attending any adult function. Once again, if they are capable of maintaining behavior in accordance with the protocol of the situation, then they are welcome by me

    That being said, there are a vast number of adults who shouldn’t be allowed into wineries based on the above criteria. I have a friend in the business in Santa Barbara who tells me that people are constantly going to the winery where the famous spit-bucket-dumping scene occurred and re-enacting that scene.

    Just makes you wonder sometimes.

  18. Wow, I don’t even know where to begin with this post!

    Let’s start here. If you don’t want children to tour winery, don’t let them. It’s your personal and professional choice. The consequences will be that you may lose business based on this decision. If that’s a risk you’re willing to take, I have no qualms with it.

    However, I also think it’s horribly sad. Having been a teacher here in Spain, we took entire classes to tour through vineyards and bodegas in conjunction to a full lesson on winemaking. The children loved it! The bodegas loved it! Teachers loved it! We all loved it because the tour was geared for children and adults. There were grapes to crush with a 5 year old hand and barrels to climb into and explore. An aisle in a vineyard was dedicated to which child could find the hidden orange grape and videos with little grapes to discuss the process.

    Children typically act out because their primary needs aren’t being met. Granted, this can simply be poor parenting, but it can also be poor teaching. Encourage wineries to set up children friendly tours. Motivate children to be winemakers and wine lovers.

    If you want info about one of our day trips with children to Bodegas Torres, go here: http://catavino.net/2006/10/31/day-trip-to-bodega-torres/

  19. Parents: Your babies and toddlers don’t want to hang around with you while you’re tasting wine. They’re bored silly, and they are not learning anything. Maybe once they’re older, they might. — Once they’re beyond the insty-meltdown stage, beyond the squirming and screaming age, that is. I’m thinking 8 years old at a minimum. Thank god my parents had the good sense to live near my grandparents and drop us off there frequently when they had adult activities.

  20. Great discussion. Some funny items here: I particularly like the “adults only” beaches on the shores of Lake Michigan–can topless beaches a la Europe be far behind?

    Gabriella, that was a fascinating story about taking 55 five-year-olds to the Torres bodega. I’m glad they were so prepared. And it all happened on a school day, no doubt, when vacationing adult couples were no doubt in reduced numbers.

    Indeed, as alluded to above, it seems that some adult winery visitors are acting like hooligans. Some Napa wineries are now banning buses and even limos to discourage such group binges. And the free tasting is now an endangered species, in part to curb such excesses. But it’s not limited to California– consider this Long Island example:

    I’m still of the opinion that an across-the-board “no kids” policy is bad, and am encouraged by the winery employee, FreedomRun, who posted above that child outbursts are rare. There seems to be a consensus here that if children are acting up, their parents should remove them or they will ask to be removed.

    It reminds of a sign I saw in a coffee shop in Chicago earlier this summer that read, “unruly children will be given an espresso and a puppy.”

  21. Hmmm. Interesting. I think the purpose of banning kids or children from the winery has more to do with the children being unruly and disturbing other people rather then actually shielding them from alcohol. While an all out ban may be a little harsh, until some of us better discipline our kids, i feel that its necessary in order not to irritate other customers.

  22. Fare point Melvin. I’m thinking in terms of my kids – who are very well behaved wee guys.

    I guess that makes me the spoiled one…or lucky anyway. It’s always going to come down to the individuals involved and in particular how well the parents interact with thier kids.

  23. Ooooh, this question hits so close to home. We live in Healdsburg, so visits to wineries for various reasons are a part of our lives. With the addition of our daughter, not a whole lot has changed . . . but some has.

    For instance, when my parents came to visit a few months ago we thought it would be fun to take a tour of the Sattui Castle. But when we called to make an appointment we found out that the shortest tour was 90 minutes, and we felt that that would be asking too much of our then 7-month old, and not fair to the other guests if and when she got fussy. So we chose to skip it.

    On the other hand, we were hanging out in the Healdsburg plaza over the weekend and, on a whim, decided to pop into one of the gazillion tasting rooms that have taken over downtown. My husband and I enjoyed a few wines that we haven’t tried in a while while our daughter (now 10 months, held by daddy) waved and threw kisses to everyone at the bar. Then she stood for the first time on her own right there on the cork floor and everyone within range cheered for her. It felt like family. That’s the kind of experience I hope my daughter will be able to grow up with.

  24. I think the post is really directed at the parents who choose to ignore the bad behavior of their children intead of disciplining them in public. I am a wine professional and have worked in wine bars, and while children in the wine bar didnt bother me, disruptive children did. While wine is an adult activity, exposure to winemaking and vineyards is a lovely idea. Also this is an activity lots of adults choose to do without their kids to enjoy an adult experience only to have it ruined by someones else’s unruly child. A winery is a private establishment and reserves the right to invite whom it pleases. I am from a generation where this type of behavior was not tolerated. There was no time out, it was spanking time or bed time!

  25. […] updates by email (right sidebar). Thanks for visiting!Should kids be banned from wineries? The recent poll on this topic generated a heated discussion and, as of this writing, those against banning kids […]

  26. Note: The coffeehouse in Chicago that caused parents such distress asked that children be WELL BEHAVED, not that they STAY OUT.

    Note the difference, folks.

    What everyone else said RE if the kids are squirmy and screamy they don’t belong there.

    And YES to whomever pointed out that in Brooklyn, every damn watering hole in town is now a stroller derby. This unsettling trend is also spreading to Queens; luckilly, that boro still has enough dive bars where no sane person would even think of bringing a child that I can still find a child-free drink.

    If kids are allowed all the time in adult spaces, no exceptions, then I want a license to go into any daycare center to use the restroom, fix myself a snack of cookies and juice, and take a nap.

  27. If kids are allowed all the time in adult spaces, no exceptions, then I want a license to go into any daycare center to use the restroom, fix myself a snack of cookies and juice, and take a nap.

    I am standing at my desk, applauding, in between belly laughs. Thank you for this, Jen. Bravo!

  28. […] it should be tasted blind. In a tangentially-related post by Dr. Vino, the topic (and poll) is whether kids should be banned from wineries. Both sparked lively debates that illustrated how polarized people are in their views […]

  29. There are two issues here, at least; to divide them:

    (1) Behaviour. This is a business decision. Obviously, no one should attend tours who does not have enough of an attention span to respect the tour and its participants. However, I’ve seen fifth-tour-of-the-day adults cause as much of a scene as young children! Why not a general “quiet, please” policy on tours? Similarly to libraries (though of course, more conversational) where all must conduct themselves according to the rules of the space.

    (2) Influence. This is a social decision. It must be admitted that bringing children along to ‘castles’ and caves, where grape juice is magically turned into a beverage that makes adults silly, will influence young minds. But since nothing else mandates that parents/schools thoroughly educate young kids on the pros and cons of alcohol consumption, this is a problem of wider girth than wineries. I err on the side that tours provide opportunities to raise such discussions, thus doing more good than harm. Ultimately, our culture is divided in its approach to whether this issue belongs in the law or the family — with age requirements at alcohol-related web sites, but none at convenience/liquor stores that feature massive, colourful poster ads.

  30. It just takes one screaming hellion to ruin it for everyone else. Ban them.

  31. An all out ban would be really an extreme option.

    Everything said, i feel that proper education for both the adults and their children is more important then cutting them off totally.

  32. […] monthly updates by email (right sidebar). Thanks for visiting!Following the controversy generated a recent poll on this site about banning kids from wineries, we add another poll! But this one has content from […]

  33. I firmly believe that taking children to wineries could be a positive thing for the wine industry. It would be great to have wineries advertise if they are children friendly! Wine and wineries are about many things – not just drinking. Children can learn and talk about their new experiences. They can practice their social skills when they are on the road vacationing with parents. Not only that, farm and winery life, can be a truly wonderful and amazing experience for kids who have never been exposed to it! With that said, some wineries are children friendly, and some are not. Some are set up in such a way as kids won’t be in the way, and some are not. A huge plus for the wine world occurs when parents promote responsibility- those who demonstrate good sense when wine tasting are showing their children drinking is not a bad thing to do. Parents who go tasting, drink too much, and then drive (rather than taste in respectable quantities), should be pulled off the wine roads in a paddy wagon and allowed to think and rest for 24 hours on a cot that is sitting on a cold, hard floor.

  34. […] our discussion of kids at wineries, I was delighted to learn that Chateau Palmer has an open view on the subject–at least for […]

  35. […] voiced my frustrations across the Internet, alongside Dr. Vino and Dr. Debs, on issues such as prohibiting children into wineries and restricting the conversation […]

  36. If parenting were still a practiced skill in our contemporary culture, then behaved children would be welcome. However, wine touring is mainly an adult event and as such leave the little ones at home. They’re not going to have fun standing around watching you slurp down glass after glass of colorful “punch” that they’re not permitted to sample. All too often your darlings will get bored and start acting up and though you may be think this is cute, I assure you it is not for the rest of us who are there to enjoy the wine and otherwise pleasant environment.

  37. No one enjoys the blood curtailing SCREAMS of a toddler while being educated in fine wine.
    Besides, have you ever here of the origination M.A.D.D.? Idiot! What kind of example are setting for your 4 year old? By the time the child is 17-18 years old he ought to be an old pros at the art of DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE.

    This is probably the stupidest thing to vote on EVER!!! Maybe you should write a letter to your congressman and ask him and M.A.D.D., for their vote. Then post your results!

    I just can’t believe how may BRAIN DEAD PARENTS THERE ARE IT THE WORLD TODAY!
    This is what the vote should be: Are parents with kids between the ages of 1day & 18yoa bigger idiots the say they know?

    You are what’s wrong with today’s teens!!!
    I mean gangsters, drug dealers, car jackers, and child abuser wife killers’ child molesters… I could keep going but I wont!

    Hey here’s an idea, why don’t you take you kid to Disneyland… They have plenty of beer & wine for you to throw down you throat and image this, Disneyland a is place FOR KIDS, where they can scream, cry, spit, stomp feet, throw fits, ride rides, drink punch have fun AND mom & dad don’t endanger their Kids lives by drinking & Driving.

    Is there a brain in your in your head or is pickling from all that wine?

  38. […] the controversy generated by a recent poll on this site about banning kids from wineries, we add another poll! But this one has content from […]

  39. Parents be responsible!
    I don’t think this issue would have even come up if parents were responsible with their children. I work at a Winery, and well behaved children with attentive parents WHO DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE are always welcome!
    But please- if they scream, politely leave the room, don’t permit them to run or touch items. Be courteous to other guests and understand that the winery is NOT typically geared toward children and that others have come to relax and enjoy their days as well.


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