Great wine regions for family travel

by Amiee White Beazley
Daily Correspondent

When traveling with a young family, wine regions shouldn’t be automatically pulled from the list. These are often some of the most beautiful places on the planet, surrounded with great cultural, outdoor and adventure opportunities, not to mention great food and wine. It’s the best of both worlds. Here are great wine regions to travel to with children:

➺Okanagan Valley: Located in Westbank, Canada, just outside of the fantastic British Columbia town of Kelowna, Mission Hill Winery is the Okanagan Valley’s largest and most prominent producer. A trip to their winery with kids offers dramatic views of the vineyards that slope to Lake Okanagan, stunning architecture and special events throughout the year. New this summer, Mission Hill Family Estate is hosting Long Table Dinners set right in the vineyard. Nearby, there is endless hiking, water sports and a historic downtown in which to explore.

➺Bordeaux: France’s most famous wine region is changing its tune on visits and families at vineyards, many now eager to open their grounds for tastings and exploration. Just this month, Laurent Fabius, France’s foreign affairs minister, announced an investment fund that would help build tourist facilities and bring travelers to regions such as Bordeaux. At the fairytale setting of Chateau de Cerons, located about 20 miles outside the city of Bordeaux, accessed easily by train, the family-run sweet white vineyard welcomes guests to the historic chateau with a picnic and tasting under the magnolia trees, where children nearby can play and run in the sunshine.

➺Priorat: This Spanish wine region is a favorite of Tatiana Livesey, mother of two and co-founder of Winerist, a website specializing in wine and food trips worldwide. The Priorat region, said Livesey, is “one of the world’s best kept secrets in terms of wines that constantly rank 100 points. Wine aside, Priorat is just lovely as a rural family destination. For me, it brings my childhood memories and nostalgia to life — small quaint villages, hospitality, organic vegetables that you can pick from the garden, hiking and animal farms.”

➺Willamette Valley: The Willamette Valley in Oregon is a mecca for pinot noir lovers. While tasting at Stoller Family Estate, kids can enjoy time on the tire swing followed by easy access to Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, which also includes a waterpark. Willamette Valley Vineyards also hosts a family-friendly Grape Stomp and Harvest Celebration each September, which includes a kids stomp and costume contest.

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➺Chile: Vina Vik, a hotel and spa overlooking the Winery at Vik, in Millahue, Chile (known for its blend of sauvignon, carmenere, syrah, cabernet franc and merlot), has created special programming for children including “Smell Don’t Taste” wine non-tasting, field oenology, where they learn the viticulture and viniculture of winemaking, cooking classes, play paintball and capture the flag on the winery’s 11,000 acres.

➺Tuscany: A no-brainer for families who love history, great food and wine. Italians are notorious for their love of children and will accommodate kids of all ages with the goal of making them happy. Stay at La Foce for a villa experience in the heart of Tuscan wine country, complete with sprawling grounds, swimming pools and gardens in which to explore. “Most important to wine lovers is the fact that agriturismo — the happy marriage of tourism and agriculture — started in Tuscany, so winemakers make it very easy to explore the region’s wines,” says Francesco Vigorito of Italian Wine Merchants. “While Chianti stands as the region’s oldest wine-producing area, other towns are close by and should be visited, like Montalcino, home to Brunello and the producers Canalicchio di Sopra and Cupano, and Montepulciano, where you’ll find exciting versions of Sangiovese or Bolgheri, the hotbed of Super Tuscan wines.”

And if an organized wine tasting trip paired with biking is more your speed, then Butterfield and Robinson hosts a Loire Valley Family Biking Trip. On this trip, the kids will take part in canoeing, swordplay, visiting castles and playing in sprawling fields of sunflowers, while the adults indulge in great food, fantastic biking and impressive wines and tastings.

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