Wine Tasting in Tuscany with Kids
Wine tasting tops the list on most Tuscan itineraries. I’ve read lots of comments online that say taking the kids wine tasting is impossible. Even more state that wineries aren’t open in the winter. I’m here to tell you that wine tasting, in winter, with kids in Tuscany is lovely with a bit of preparation.
The first thing to know is that most vineyards in Tuscany require a reservation, particularly in winter. Do some Googling and give these places a call. Alternatively ask the place you are staying to recommend or call places. Once we got in touch with people by e-mail or phone it was easy to arrange visits.
Castello Del Trebbio
Our first wine tasting was at Castello Del Trebbio. We also happened to be staying at one of the villas on the property.
The tour included visiting the interior rooms of the castle as well as the cellars where the wine is stored. I honestly didn’t hear much of the tour as my two year old was running in circles. I wasn’t quite sure what to do and didn’t want him to disturb other guests so I hung back and let him run while the rest of the tour continued. Sometimes the kids handicap us on tours, but it was still enjoyable to be in the castle despite not hearing everything.
Once we got to the tasting room though, which is lined with long wooden tables, we set the boys up with the iPad. The staff had prepared small snack plates for the boys, so they enjoyed snacks and a movie while we enjoyed the wines.
The wine tasting consisted of one white and two reds and a selection of small bites for pairing. The tasting was pretty run of the mill, teaching you how to engage your senses to taste the wine.
We did learn about the “heart of the wine” test which can tell you the age of the wine. The darker the triangle the older the wine. We’d never seen this done before but would see it repeated over and over in the Chianti region. A mobile phone flashlight shone from the top of a tilted wine glass can reveal the heart of the wine.
Just in case you’re wondering, you can taste wine while holding a baby!
Next we went by a hired car (arranged by our villa) to Fattoria Lavacchio. This organic winery is making some amazing wines. We received a guided tour of the vineyard, which again I missed almost entirely due to not one but two screaming children. Since we were on a private tour I strapped the two year old into the stroller and gave him the iPad. I put the baby into the car seat and got both kids settled while the group went on the tour. When they were finished with the tour I was ready for a glass of wine!
The tasting was incredibly informative. Our hostess, part of the family that owns the vineyard, told us all about the wine growing regions and how the different Chiantis are made. We learned why they were originally sold in wide bottles wrapped with paper netting (so the bottles wouldn’t break during shipment.)
The four year old, who was incredible during the tour, was given his own glass (yikes!) of Chardonnay Juice (plain grape juice) and encouraged to do the tasting right along with us.
He got a pour when we got a pour! They also set out a meat and cheese plate, which the kids and adults enjoyed.
We tasted four reds. The Puro is actually the only organic Chianti available on the market and can be found in some Whole Foods markets in the States. (If you find it, buy it. This stuff is delicious!)
The Windmill Restaurant
The owner drove us down the street in her car to the Windmill Restaurant.
In the summer you could easily walk, but winter darkness made it unsafe. We were booked for their wine pairing dinner.
The restaurant has a small playground out front, which was perfect for the kids to burn off some energy before dinner.
We ordered pizzas for the kids while we enjoyed a leisurely dinner. Each course perfectly paired with a wine from the vineyard.
The food was outstanding and plentiful. The kids pizza may have been the best we had the entire trip. The wine was delicious and we were left with each bottle to finish on our own.
The dinner lasted over two hours so we were glad to have the iPad along to entertain the kids. The restaurant was also happy to set them up in the couch area near the entrance.
Al Gelso Bianco
Our final official wine tasting was done as part of our cooking class at Al Gelso Bianco. We tasted their selection of wines while the food was cooking and then had the rest of the bottles to enjoy with our meal.
The kids enjoyed a small wooded playground on site while we wine tasted in an adjacent building.
This was probably our favorite tasting, although the least informative. Drinking the wines with our meal made us want to take some home, so we ordered a few bottles to be shipped back to the Netherlands. The perfect souvenir for our trip.
Our kids probably could not have handled a full day of wine tasting, but we felt satisfied with our three winery visits during our week in Tuscany. Everyone was so accommodating and never seemed annoyed with the presence of our kids. We did rely on the iPad a bunch to keep our kids quiet, but they also got to taste and participate when they wanted. In addition to these tastes we also picked up quite a few bottles at the store to drink back at the villa while we were relaxing. We looked for local bottles and thus got to try a wide variety of Chiantis.