Virginia has nearly 300 wineries and dozens of wine trails sprinkled throughout the state. There are 10 general wine regions in the state, ranging from the Blue Ridge region to the Northern Virginia region, very close to our home in Washington, DC. Do we really visit wineries with kids? Yes, yes we do!
Virginia wineries are, for the most part, child friendly. We have been visiting wineries in Virginia since before my oldest son was born and we continue to visit wineries even though we now have two kids (and sometimes a dog!) to bring along for the ride.
The wineries we tend to visit most often are located in two different regions: Northern Virginia and Central Virginia. The Northern Virginia wineries are located just about an hour away from home and are an easy activity for a leisurely Saturday or Sunday when the weather is nice. The Central Virginia wineries are usually reserved for our fall getaways when we rent a cabin for a long weekend and sneak off to the greater Charlottesville region.
Northern Virginia Region Wineries
If you find yourself in Washington, DC and searching for a day trip away from the city, the Northern Virginia wineries are truly a treat. Just a short one hour long drive from DC (traffic depending, of course!), we frequently drop into a winery as part of another event or activity. Our favorite wineries are:
Chester Gap Cellars – Family owned and operated, Chester Gap is a small producing vineyard with incredible white wines. We visited years ago when the winery was just getting started, and we have loved seeing their wines pop up on finer restaurant menus throughout town. We have met the winemaker and his lovely wife (they also have a son who we met ages ago but is probably a grown man by now!), and the staff in the tasting room is always happy to entertain well behaved children.
The Winery at La Grange – The Winery at La Grange is one of our favorite wineries to visit because the tasting room is set in the historic Manor House at La Grange.
The house itself is fun to explore, but my kids particularly love to run around in the expansive outside space. We frequently stop at La Grange for a glass of wine and then sit outside to enjoy the outdoors, while our kids take a much needed car break.
Barrel Oak Winery (“BOW”) – Barrel Oak is probably not the best place to visit for those seeking an exclusive wine experience. But, if you happen to have kids or dogs and enjoy a fermented grape or ten, BOW is a GREAT place to visit. I’ve been fortunate to attend many events at BOW, including a morning yoga class followed by a wine tasting. The winery really does emphasize fun and unlike some wineries that have been restricting crowd side and hinting that children are not welcome on weekends, BOW is committed to having fun with friends and family, including your favorite four legged dependent!
Bluemont Vineyard – Like BOW, Bluemont Vineyard is truly a family friendly place and it is conveniently located literally around the corner from Great Country Farms, a local U-Pick farm with abundant activities for children. I highly recommend spending a morning at Great Country Farms with your little one and then driving down the road to Bluemont for lunch (the Tasting Room offers simple eats like flatbreads and sandwiches, perfect after a few hours of strawberry picking) and some wines before heading back to DC – truly a perfect day trip and a little something for everyone.
Central Virginia Region Wineries
Our favorite Virginia wineries are those in the Charlottesville area, mostly because of the breathtaking landscape. Located approximately three hours away from Washington, DC, the Charlottesville wineries certainly are more of an investment in terms of time and effort, but if you happen to be visiting for the weekend, you absolutely should pop in and get a sip or two.
Barboursville Vineyards – Our favorite winery to visit is Barboursville. Arguably one of Virginia’s most well-known wineries, Barboursville is frequently extremely crowded and elbow room only, but the wine and the space easily make up for the crowds. The winery has an outstanding restaurant, Palladio (which I wouldn’t recommend dining at with small children as it is definitely high end dining!), and a small herb garden where they grow items for the restaurant.
The flagship wine at Barboursville is Octagon, which is stored in the Octagon room and is available for peeping.
On weekends, Barboursville offers a vertical Octagon tasting, which takes place in a more private, less crowded environment. I highly recommend this experience!
Grace Estate Winery – Grace Estate Winery is a great winery to visit if you’re looking for simple snacks and some outdoor space for your kids to run around. We have visited Grace and taken advantage of the small snacks they offer to feed our children.
The winery also has gas grills, free wifi, and outdoor games (like corn hole), which makes it a lovely place to spend a few hours on a nice afternoon.
I would not say that Virginia wineries make an effort to cater to children – they do not offer grape juice or playground space, and you’d be lucky to find outdoor activities like the corn hole set we found at Grace Estate. The most you’re going to find is a sad bucket of toys that won’t even hold a toddler’s attention.
But, I have never hesitated to visit a Virginia winery with my kids because by and far, the winery experience is just fine for kids. There’s always ample space to run around outdoors and plenty of indoor stuff to keep a child’s attention for a few minutes. Of course, you’ll want to come prepared with snacks, treats, and even a iPad (heaven forbid!) just in case things get rough, but it is possible to visit wineries and have a good time with kids!