This coming summer will be the first in 4 years that I will not be pregnant or breastfeeding...which means it's the first summer in 4 years that I can really entertain the idea of wine tasting with the kids! Woohoo! Visiting wineries with children in tow is very intimidating to me. My 2 year old can be particularly unpredictable and has no concept of an "indoor voice" whatsoever. Luckily we have some friends that moved to Livermore about a year ago and have done the hard work of figuring out which wineries are best for young kids. We have taken a couple of trips to the area this Spring, so I wanted to share our favorite stops for wine and beer tasting along with a great family hike.
There is free parking at the staging area and a small farm with livestock that the kids enjoyed saying hello to. Signs on the trail said that the area was used for open grazing, but unfortunately we didn't come across any cows on our walk. We did however see dozens of ground squirrels that were popping their heads up out of the grasses as we walked by and the kids were very amused by the loud humming from the crickets.
|If you try really hard, you can see the head of the ground squirrel popping up where the arrow is :)|
The trail was wide and easy for the kids to run along (with the exception of a few areas that were rocky) and could easily be tackled with a good jogging stroller. The loop we took was a little over 2 miles long and there was only one stretch of about half a mile that didn't provide much cover from the sun.
|The girls were fascinated by a small bug that had landed on our little ones' shoe.|
I would definitely recommend this area for a hike, especially in the spring time when the hills are still green and you might come across some wild flowers. We went in early May and were able to catch the hills before they turned completely brown, but had we come a month earlier it would have been lush green for as far as the eye could see.
|Mt. Diablo in the distance.|
After a morning hike, there are plenty of options for some more relaxing fun. The Livermore Valley has dozens of wineries to choose from and a much more laid back vibe than the better known Napa and Sonoma Valley's. We have visited several wineries here in the past couple of years and every time there was a good mix of families and people without children.
On our most recent trip we met up with our friends from Livermore and had a picnic at Retzlaff Winery. Retzlaff is one of the oldest wineries in the area and offers estate bottled wines produced from certified organic grapes. The grounds are really beautiful and cater perfectly to families (as well as people who want to bring their dogs along). There is an expansive lawn for picnicking as well as picnic tables and lawn games, all nicely situated under rows of century old pepper trees.
The kids were happy as could be, sitting in the shade having their own picnic, and then playing their own version of the popular lawn game Bags while the adults shared a bottle of the Rose, which was very refreshing in the warm afternoon.
|The breweries weiner dog made himself immediately at home with the kids.|
We had a sampler, followed by a pint of the Golden Nektar Pilsner and everything was excellent. Our kids had such a good time that even though it was clearly past their nap times, it was hard to pry them away from the fun and games to pack them up in the car. This is definitely a place we will return to when we are in the area.
Have you been to Livermore?
What are your favorite places to explore with the family?
Details: Livermore is located about 30 miles from Berkeley, and takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on traffic. Directions to Morgan Territory Regional Preserve can be found here. From the staging area, we turned right on the trail and then made a left on the Volvon trail, left on Blue Oak Trail, left on Hummingbird Trail, left on Volvon Trail, and a slight right onto Condor Trail, which led back to the parking lot. Retzlaff Winery has a range of tasting options from $5-$15, or you can buy a glass or bottle to enjoy in the picnic area. Beers at Eight Bridges were ~$5-$6 for a sampler of 4 beers or a pint. We had the Hoppy Salvation, Golden Nektar Pilsner, Hoppy Annihilation and the Stout. All of the beers were very good, but the last three noted were our favorites.
Cost: Gas ($5), Bottle at Retzlaff ($18), Taster and Pint at Eight Bridges ($12)