When you think of visiting a winery, your vision is probably one of you relaxing on a deck under tall Oaks overlooking the rolling Texas hills and wide-open plains while sipping your favorite wine. This vision of relaxation probably doesn’t involve your children. But don’t miss out on Texas wineries while waiting for that elusive kid free opportunity.
A great time to experience a Texas winery is during harvest season. Unlike California where harvest season generally happens late September and October, the Texas heat speeds things up around here. Harvest season in Texas generally runs August to September.
There are numerous wineries that offer members and the public the opportunity to participate in the harvesting and processing of the grapes. The more hands and feet the better! The kids just love squishing the grapes and getting all messy. The payoff is purple feet! What kid wouldn’t love purple feet?
Katie and EJ Dennis participated in this year’s harvest at two Texas wineries with their kids, Singing Water and William Chris. They are avid supporters of the Texas wine industry and often visit local wineries with their four children just for fun.
EJ is a native Texan and a US Marine Corps veteran. The family has moved all over the country sampling vineyards along the way, but they say that vineyards here in Texas are truly incredible when it comes to welcoming everyone. Katie Dennis proudly says, “The owners and people involved are one of a kind and so friendly. We feel like we’re home and hope to start our own vineyard in the Hill Country within the next couple of years.”
EJ makes it a yearly tradition taking the big girls to harvest grapes at Singing Water Vineyards in Comfort, TX. He says they don’t appreciate getting up so early but ultimately they love the experience and they get paid by dad in pancakes afterwards.
The whole Dennis family stomped in the annual grape punch at William Chris Vineyards in Hye, TX. For a small fee they received ‘Hye Society’ tee shirts and had tons of fun.
January Wiese, Executive Director of Texas Hill Country Wineries, has a passion for wine, both for work and for fun. January says, “I grew up in the wine industry so it’s all I knew as a kid and we just really wanted to share a little of that experience with our kids. This industry is ALL about family…family businesses being passed on and shared with kids and grandkids. It’s truly an amazing way of life.”
January and family harvested this season at Stone House Vineyards in Spicewood, TX. As you can see the kids had a great time!
At Texas Legato in Lampasas, TX, young Robbie, seen in the photo below, used his grape soaked fee to stomp his foot prints into a keepsake t-shirt. Check out more family fun at the Texas Legato Harvest on their Facebook page.
Even the littlest of feet can participate in the fun. Katie Bridge initiated her adorable little daughter in her first grape stomp at Messina Hof this year. Katie and her family love going to Texas wineries because of the family friendly atmosphere. Katie says, “When I toured wineries in California (the Napa Valley area), they seemed 100% geared towards tours, tastings, sales, and numbers. Every vineyard I’ve been to here in Texas including Messina Hof, there were children of all ages. And no one seemed irked by it. The family culture in Texas wineries and vineyards is very apparent and makes being a wine lover here in Texas so much more fun.”
Most wineries have an email list you can join as well as a Facebook page to follow so you can learn about upcoming harvest events. Some require advanced purchase tickets and may include food and souvenir t-shirts, so start looking in June or July if you want to participate. Many are also free and you just need to show up and be ready to work and get messy. Just check with the winery ahead of time.
Here are some more wineries that offer family fun during harvest season. Let us know if you have more to add!
More and more Texas families are discovering that wineries can be fun for the whole family.
So don’t wait until next year to get out and visit some local Texas wineries. There are many family friendly events throughout the year, not just harvest season.
Take a look at this Event Calendar for Local Texas Wineries. Many wineries have live music on the weekends, food trucks and outdoor activities like cornhole and horseshoes. The kids will love it and you can enjoy a nice glass of Texas wine while supporting our growing Texas wine industry!