Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Oct 22, 2010 10:06 PM

Thoughts on Tasting Rooms with an infant?


Pre-baby my husband and I used to enjoy wine tasting in Paso Robles and Santa Barbara - we probably made the drive about once every month or two and had joined a few wine clubs. We haven't been since I got pregnant, and we very much miss it. The wee one is now 3 months old and the one wine club we couldn't give up is having a release/pickup party for their premiere vintage in a couple of weeks. Even before the baby I usually only swallowed a sip or two of any taste and dumped the rest so I wouldn't be too numb in the tongue for a day of tasting, but what's holding us back from going is not actual worries about too much alcohol in my breast milk (I have alcohol testing strips) or worries about the little one having a meltdown (he's pretty chill and a champion napper, and we're quick to take him outside wherever we are if he starts fussing), but worries about how we'll be regarded by both other patrons and winery employees if we show up to tasting rooms carrying an infant. We don't feel the need to attend the release party itself per se, but we'd like to pick up a few bottles that weekend, visit a few other wineries, maybe stay overnight and resume our pre-baby life if only slightly...

So have at it, 'hounders: what would you think of a couple toting a baby into a tasting room?

  1. Encourage you to do it. We just did this and it was fine. Took him to Loring in Lompoc when he was 4 months old and to Paso when he was 5 months for tastings and that went well too. We also went to Villa Creek annual party too but for that we left him with sitters as we weren't sure how that would work and to be honest felt we would have a better time at the party without him. We did see others with kids, couple of infants and older ~5 years old.

    1. I think this is the exact situation where a sitter is needed.
      IMO, babies and bars don't mix, and I think many people treat tasting rooms as such (not saying you do, OP- it's the other people you may need to be concerned with).

      5 Replies
      1. re: invinotheresverde

        i agree about the sitter. as an industry lifer, i don't like this new trend of babies and children being dragged into every adult environment. even if you're good about bringing the baby out once he starts crying, he's already crying. i work in a very high-end restaurant and while we don't get lots of kids, i still am amazed to see any. and when they are there, their parents are not having a quiet relaxing meal. ever.

        give yourself the afternoon off and enjoy it.

        1. re: hotoynoodle

          i'd say, in the big picture, not having your kids with you is a newer trend.

          1. re: thew

            big picture, like dawn of man? lol.

            i meant this recent generation of parents. i am mid-40's. when my parents went for a fancy dinner or away i was with a relative or a sitter. end of story.

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              i'm around the same age as you, probably 3-5 years older. my parents took us to many a fancy dinner. in fact i'd say they took me more frequently than i take my kid. so i guess your story and mine end differently.

        2. Why not? I saw couples doing this on my last run through the Okanagan, and remember one kid strapped into a front harness and passed out and drooling from the boredom of her parents' activities. Most of the moms sipped and swallowed while one or two did the sip and spit (using their own and not the counter one).

          Reactions from the others visiting the wineries were for all intents indifferent, though you could spot one or two on either extreme. The winery workers didn't care so long as the kids didn't bother other visitors (none cried).

          18 Replies
          1. re: wattacetti

            But what if one of them did? The thing about babies is that they have very few defense mechanisms, maybe only one- crying when something isn't right. Nobody wants to go running out with the baby because the baby is crying while they're trying to have this adult experience, and being an adult experience nobody wants to hear a sad baby crying.

            That's why a sitter is the best answer.

            1. re: EWSflash

              She already said she'd take the baby out if it started to fuss.

              I say go for it. As a single parent, I rarely left my son at home. This is NOT the same thing as taking a kid into a dive bar. And btw, there were 2 places that technically qualified as bars that I did take my son to, both of which were family friendly.

              Take your child with you. Let other people tend to their own reactions. As long as you are willing to walk out if things start to get rocky, there's no real reason to let other people drive your actions.

              Now if you WANT to have a grownups only day, that's a different thing. But if taking your child with is what you want in this instance I think it's a good thing to start socializing your child now rather than later.

              1. re: ZenSojourner

                i'm sorry, but the other grown-ups in the tasting room are trying to have a grown-up day and part of our responsibility to maintaining the social contract is respecting the rights of others, not just our own self-interest.

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  What "right of others" is being violated by having a quiet infant present?

                  Honestly, I'm not trying to pick a fight. I just don't understand how the mere presence of an infant in a carrier/backpack/frontpack could be a violation of anyone's rights.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

          's just inappropriate. One of the reasons I love Napa is that you can escape kids for a weekend.

                    1. re: BubblyOne

                      I agree with bubblyone, hotoynoodle and others. Some places are for adults, and other adults who come have reasonable expectations of enjoying an adult venue as well. I have yet to understand the need to drag children/babies into adult venues. All I can come up with is convenience for the parent and saving money on a sitter. I can't buy the "socialization" argument. Who is a 3-month-old baby going to meaningfully socialize with at a wine tasting? However, if the winery in question welcomes infants/children, then do as you feel best. I'm sure I'd be one of the people giving you odd looks, especially if you got in your car and drove away with the infant after indulging in wine.

                      1. re: Firegoat

                        i ask chrisvr's question as well. if the infant is not kicking up a fuss, in what way does it interfere with your adult enjoyment?

                        firegoat? bubbly? hoto?

                        1. re: thew

                          OP asked for 'hound's thoughts. She is getting enough to decide for herself, I would think. To me, it is inappropriate to bring an infant/child to a tasting room. Quiet, screaming or otherwise.
                          It's a moot point for me in any case, in all my trips to Napa I have never encountered chldren. Whether that is the vineyard's choice, the law or otherwise- I have no idea.

                    2. re: hotoynoodle

                      we have no responsibility to tolerate other's intolerance.

                      1. re: thew

                        a quiet sleeping infant, safely wrapped and trussed up, is no bother whatsoever. however, too often i am someplace and the parent tries to quiet the child before bringing it outside. i have yet to see or hear one get whisked away at the first peep.

                        the noun "right" infers a stronger connotation than i intended.

                        firegoat expressed it better than i did. i have been in movie theaters, in thrall, in the dark, unaware there is an infant until it starts to bawl. the spell is broken by the time mom collects herself and gets the baby out. there are certain venues where i do not expect infants or children. i don't think that is unreasonable on my end, sorry. it's possible i have attended flicks with babies who did sleep through, i suppose, but it's a crap shoot as a parent, is it not?

                        1. re: thew

                          "we have no responsibility to tolerate other's intolerance."

                          Sure, ok. But we do have a responsibility to take into account the well-being of others, including those not immediately related to us. I don't know how comfortable I am with declarations that seem to suggest that any kind of empathy is somehow a chump's game, or subjugation to another's intolerance.

                          1. re: Lizard

                            Reminds me of what my mother used to say, " My rights end where yours begin."

                        2. re: hotoynoodle

                          Yes, it is part of the social contract to respect the rights of others, and not just your own self-interest. That means you must respect a parent's right to take children with them to public places that allow the presence of children, such as grocery stores, theaters, and, yes, wine-tastings, where allowed.

                          If you want a child-free evening, arrange one in a private venue. Any public place whose policy allows the presence of children is by definition NOT a place where "grown-ups" should be expecting to have a "grown-up day", sans the presence of children. You folks sound like my friend who gets huffy when a child shows up in a restaurant. If the particular facility that the OP wants to attend allows children, then she is well within her rights - and is not being in any way whatsoever irresponsible - to attend with her child.

                          If that bothers you so much, then you have the right to check to ascertain whether a facility allows children and then not patronize those which do, just as she has the right to take her child with her to those places that do allow children.

                          BTW, replace the word "child" with "African-American" or other ethnic group of your choice and see how acceptable that is.

                          1. re: ZenSojourner

                            <BTW, replace the word "child" with "African-American" or other ethnic group of your choice and see how acceptable that is.>

                            Oh, good Lord. This is about behavior, not ethnicity. An attempt to make it akin to racism is completely ridiculous.

                            1. re: ZenSojourner

                              attending r-rated films, i DO NOT expect children, of any size, sorry. several times in the last year i have had a movie interrupted by a squalling baby. even if mom makes a relatively quick exit, she's infringed on the enjoyment of numerous other adults, none of whom brought babies and all of whom paid money to enjoy a few quiet hours of cinema. this is totally not the same as a baby in a grocery store or a subway car.

                              as a sommelier, i have been to dozens of wineries and hundreds of tastings. i do not recall ever seeing a child present in any of these places.


                              BTW, replace the word "child" with "African-American" or other ethnic group of your choice and see how acceptable that is.


                              so off-the-charts, this made me laugh out loud for realz. so, are you calling me a "babyist" now?

                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                It's a form of ageism.

                                Again. If you don't want to be around children, then go places where children are not allowed, or arrange your own childless events in private venues. If children are allowed in - and they are allowed into theaters, even to "r-rated" movies with an adult - and you don't like that, don't go there. If the venue allows children then parents have every right to bring them.

                                It's unfortunately also true that some parents are not as responsible in public with their children as they should be. Having to put up with that is one of life's little annoyances. I think sometimes parents are unprepared, surprised, and overwhelmed and don't necessarily react as quickly as we think they should. I, too, have seen children throw screaming temper tantrums in public. These things happen. But most parents figure things out fairly quickly, and those with well-behaved children shouldn't be punished for the transgressions of those whose parenting skills seem to be lacking in the moment.

                                1. re: ZenSojourner

                                  babies, unlike seniors, don't have the option to pick and choose where they go. they go where their parents tote them. i'm sorry but i think you're really pushing this too far.

                    3. I can go either way on this, but for you, the parents, I'd get a sitter. Have an adult day. Enjoy each other, away from the baby. Have some adult conversations, knock back a few.

                      With release parties, you don't have pick up the wine that day. It can wait. But you can enjoy the party if you do.

                      On the other hand, if your little one is inordinately placid, then I can see how it might work.
                      Trouble is, the moment your little one cries, you've affected the party and other guests' enjoyment
                      in a small not-so-good way. Speaking from experience, tasting rooms and wineries have very bright acoustics and a baby crying is much louder than normal because of that.

                      Basically agreeing with invinotheresverde.

                      1. Perfect opportunity to introduce the wee one to a sitter! I see several problems with taking the baby along. The first that comes to mind is the winery may not allow the baby inside. Some states have laws about minors in places where alcohol is served, even wine tasting rooms. Second, I think it would make others uncomfortable. Hopefully the winery is close enough that you can make it there and back in time for the little one's next meal. Nothing wrong with rewarding yourself with a little grown-up time! Enjoy!