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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

                    Exactly....it'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!

                        1. I don't see any good reason why you shouldn't go. You're not feeding wine to the baby.

                          There will always be naysayers around for each and every situation. I wouldn't worry about them, and I wouldn't apologize to them, either. Go and have a good time. ;)

                          (and I'll bet Jancis Robinson would tell you the same.)

                          1. My husband and I did a trip to Napa (we live in the east) with our 9 month old (she's 17 now!) and it was perfectly fine. No one batted an eye. Just don't get too toasted or they *may* look askance at driving with a little one!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: DGresh

                              Hmmmmm, I vote for sitter......Just DON'T leave it in the car!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                            2. Agree that an event like a wine tasting/release party should be a strictly adults-only occasion.

                              On the other hand, I myself have not too long ago done my fair share of winery tours with a little one. We were made to feel very welcome, including at the tasting rooms, but that was in BDX which can be quite different. It worked out pretty well and the experience was enjoyable for all.

                              I would suggest to focus on the visits to the "other wineries" and go easy on the party itself, but still go. When junior gets to be one or two years old, you will be faced with other new challenges bringing him to places.

                              1. Sitter. This is a perfect chance to relax and enjoy yourself.

                                16 Replies
                                1. re: monkeyrotica

                                  People seem to be ignoring what the OP said: they don't feel the need to attend the party itself, would like to pick up a few bottles, perhaps try a couple of other wineries, and perhaps stay overnight. And people are saying "get a sitter". Come on!

                                  1. re: DGresh

                                    Wine tasting is an adult activity, no? Lots of tasters end up quite intoxicated, which is surely not an environment I'd want my child in.
                                    Why not turn this into a nice evening for the two adults and leave the boo at home?

                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                      breastfeeding mothers don't usually have the option of leaving the child at home for an overnight trip. And I really wouldn't be concerned about the "adult environment" affecting a couple-month old baby. Goodness, I think many new parents share a bedroom with the babe, if you know what I mean.

                                      1. re: DGresh

                                        for 99% of human history 99% of people lived in a single room, day and night.

                                        1. re: thew

                                          I did have my tongue firmly in cheek btw

                                        2. re: DGresh

                                          Really? My mom breast fed me and I frequently stayed over relatives' homes. Was she magic?

                                          I'd be as concerned for the other patrons, as I'd personally be uncomfortable with a baby at a tasting room. It's simply not a place for children.

                                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                                            if the answer was simple the question wouldn't be asked. in fact there is not a consensus even here in this limited sampling....

                                            1. re: invinotheresverde

                                              She probably didn't breastfeed exclusively--if she did, she would have probably been painfully engorged, especially if she nursed before breast pumps were available. I ended up w/ mastitis as a result. If she didn't, then she wasn't magic but incredibly lucky.

                                              As other patrons go, there are probably patrons who'd be uncomfortable w/ same sex couples or a myriad of other things which is why the place should set the standard, not other people's comfort levels.

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                Maria works at a winery and has stated they're not suitable for children, nor is bringing them encouraged. I'll defer to her expertise.

                                                My mother breastfed me exclusively.

                                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                  Sorry, but there's no way your mom was leaving you at relatives' homes when you were 3 months old (as the OP's child is) if she was breastfeeding exclusively. Babies at that age can barely go ~6 hours, if you're lucky, and after 6 hours you're certainly feeling it. A sitter is not an option for an overnight trip at that age.

                                                  The the OP, as long as you're respectful of other people and move the baby elsewhere pretty immediately when he fusses, you're fine, in my opinion, as long as the winery doesn't ask you not to do it.

                                                  1. re: Chris VR

                                                    You're implying she's either lying to me, or I'm lying to you, which I definitely resent. Perhaps you're just wrong. You probably don't know everything there is to know about every mother and every child.

                                                    Again, I stayed at relatives' homes almost immediately after being born and was breastfed exclusively. Please do not call me a liar.

                                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                      I don't think anyone is saying you're lying. If you were 3 months old, you don't remember, and maybe your mom forgot details of the story. Most kids who are exclusively breastfed on demand (not on a schedule imposed by the parents) would need to eat every 2-4 hours during their waking hours. How did you eat if there was no milk available to you? Did one of your realtives breastfeed you? Not long ago it was considered ok to give a 3 mont old solids. Maybe you got cereal. Now an exclusively BF baby is not given any solids (or anything else) before 5-7 months. Was long ago? My grandmother tells stories of how they used to any sweet tasting alcohol on a teether to soothe a crying baby. Obviously, that is not acceptable now.

                                                      No, we don't know everything to know about every mother and every child, but just because your mom happened to be able to leave you with others when you were a baby, that does not mean all women and babies can.

                                                      1. re: hala

                                                        The OP never said she is exclusively breastfeeding.

                                                        My mother told me she prepumped breastmilk when she was leaving me overnight.

                                                        As the OP indicated, she's more interested in the opinions of how she'll be regarded in tasting rooms. As she's obviously self-conscious at the thought, I'd assume she'd be even more so in actuality.

                                                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                          You're right of course, that infants can be left with pumped milk, for some reason I thought we ruled out pumping earlier. However, it's still inconvenient and uncomfortable for a mother of an infant that young to have to pump while away from the baby. I remember one VERY painful experience going out for dinner and a play about a month after my son was born. But whether the OP is exclusively breastfeeding or not, she does offer that as a reason she wants to bring the baby with her, and that's reason enough to do it if permitted.

                                                          You'd have to give me a really good reason for leaving a very young child with a sitter overnight when I was breastfeeding, and the reason "because other people might not like to see babies there" isn't a good enough reason for me. Other people do lots of things I might personally not like - dress inappropriately, wear too much perfume, or talk too loudly, to name a few. I'm an adult, I move elsewhere when I encounter situations and people I don't like, and a baby is no more disturbing than the things I mentioned, as long as he/she is immediately managed appropriately when he/she starts to fuss and the baby isn't being toted around in a Monstro Stroller Tank which takes up all available room and runs over unsuspecting bystanders.

                                                          If the rules of the winery don't prohibit it, and the winery itself doesn't say not to do it, I personally wouldn't not do it just because I'd be worried that other people might not like it. The aforementioned people don't seem to consider what I think when they dress themselves or douse themselves in overpowering perfume or talk and laugh like they're on stage and trying to sell it to the cheap seats, but I don't take it as a mortal offense, I just move on.

                                                          I understand the OP posed this question in a spirit of trying to consider other people's feelings, and I suppose the nswer is yes, there are some people who are going to be bothered by it. If that's very important to you, than don't do it. But I hope for your and your child's sake you don't let other people's opinions close you off from experiences you want to enjoy simply because other people might not like it. If you're not doing anything for them not to like other than being there, that it's their problem, not yours.

                                                  2. re: invinotheresverde

                                                    As I said below, I think the OP should contact the winery to find out what their rules are. I'm not defending bringing the child or not, just saying it should be up to the establishment, not individual patrons. I'm sure there are people who are uncomfortable w/ a lot of things, eg obesity, homosexuality, earrings on men, tattoos, etc so don't think it should be based on patrons' comfort level.

                                                    If you were sleeping through the night w/out nursing, being exclusively breastfed, from your newborn days then your mom is very lucky. I don't know any other babies who have. At three months, I would not have been lucky enough to do that, or at least, would not have wished it on anyone else to deal w/ my kids. OTOH, I also would wait and not go to a tasting room, personally. Kids are babies for only so long and sure it hampered my life for those months but it goes quickly.

                                          2. re: DGresh

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

                                            I believe I answered the question to the best of my ability.

                                        3. why worry about what others think? go and enjoy yourselves.
                                          and congrats...

                                          1. I'd contact the winery and see if they have rules about it. If not, go w/ what you're comfortable with. It doesn't matter how many CHs tell you it's okay or not. If you're already self-conscious about it, you'll probably be self-conscious about it then. No one is going to openly confront you (I'd hope) but if you're already worried about how you're perceived, it's not going to get better when you're in the situation. Really, though, as a parent, there will always be someone in the room, wherever you are who will disapprove of what you're doing whether it's nursing, not nursing, covering them appropriately, or not, etc., etc.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: chowser

                                              Yup. Call the winery, find out the laws/liability, and feel out any discomfort. Babies and children do tend to make other guests uncomfortable -- this is what I've observed as a winery employee -- so wineries tend to frown on "little people" visits because of that.

                                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                                You'd figure with all the "mommy happy hours" and doggie "yappy hours" that tasting rooms would have a parent "nappy hour."

                                            2. Wow, I'm really surprised how many people have taken a baby into a tasting room. I live in Sonoma County, and I was under the impression that babies (and anyone under 18) are not allowed in tasting rooms, period. Obviously I was mistaken. At many events that I've attended in tasting rooms, the invitation or tickets specified "no children, this includes babies in arms". The situation has never come up for me (I'm a grandmother) but for what it's worth, I would certainly call the winery first to check if babies are allowed at all. If they are, I would say that it's ok to take the baby in to pick up your wine, but I certainly wouldn't take a baby to taste at the tasting bar. I suppose that I am going to sound like a grump, but I would be appalled to see a baby in a tasting room. But I wouldn't be rude or say anything.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Kathleen M

                                                I'd never thought of it before but the legality issue is interesting. I don't know the laws of all states but some for sure do not allow "minors" in non-food but alcohol serving venues. Regardless of their age. I'd check ahead of time.

                                              2. A tasting room is not a bar. It's primarily a retail establishment, with tastes on offer so you can decide what you would like to buy. The OP already prefers to sip and discard any excess. So it seems that she is an experienced and polite winery customer.

                                                At 3 months an infant is usually eating or sleeping so a quick visit to a tasting room, at a reasonable time of the day shouldn't be a problem. Older children are more of a problem because they are more likely to be loud or want to run around.

                                                Also most winery tasting rooms have a nice outdoor space if the baby is acting up and needs attention or if the tasting room staff says they do not allow children. One parent could stay outside with the baby while the other one tastes and then switch and compare notes.

                                                So I would say, go early before it gets crowded. Limit the time you spend, take adequate rests between stops, bring a picnic. Try to avoid the giant stroller with all the equipment.

                                                Some winery tasting rooms do attract the rowdy tour bus crowd, so I would avoid those types of places, but I bet you already do.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: pamf

                                                  <<A tasting room is not a bar.>>

                                                  True, but tasting rooms are governed by strict liquor laws, and often have separate strict insurance liability rules. Even if the winery would like to be "nice," they're not allowed to be.

                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                    The only time I had this situation come up, I called, and the place was fine with it. In fact when I got there, the staff welcomed me and my son specifically - they were apparently looking for us after my call. They all thought he was very cute. He was oh, maybe five at the time? Not more than six. It was 20 years ago and a lot more uncommon back then than it is now.

                                                    Sure, call ahead. But I have often seen children with their parents at wine-tastings and I don't think it's necessarily the problem some people would like it to be. If the venue allows it, go for it, and don't worry about what other people think. There's always going to be someone who disapproves of something. Pooh on them, and get ye to a winery!


                                                2. Leave the baby home. If breastfeeding is something you need to do, you stay home, too.

                                                  If I were a member of a wine tasting club, at which I suddenly had to contend with not just the actual moments of an infant's screaming, but also the very, very distracting run-up to the vale of tears, in which mom does her level best to prevent the inevitable, I would probably not come back until the owner promised never to have distracting, screaming creatures of any sort at wine tastings again.