I am a mama who has been either pregnant or breastfeeding since late 2011, and I just recently weaned my baby boy.
Is it any wonder that I have wine on the mind?!
Not to say you can’t drink while breastfeeding (no judgy!), but my boys were pretty regimented in their eating schedules AND I only produced the exact amount of breast milk that they needed (if I pumped the right amount of times, drank a certain number of ounces of water, and spun in a circle three times while reciting the alphabet backwards before each feeding), so pump and dump was NOT an option for me.
Can I just say that (for me) breastfeeding was the most complicated “natural” thing I’ve ever attempted?
Back to wine.
Whether you choose to participate in sipping an adult beverage or not, central Iowa has a number of terrific, family-friendly winery venues. It’s a great place to go for a mama’s night out or for that rare date night, but truly, a winery can be a great venue for the whole crew — kiddos and all.
Here are some of my favorite locations and tips for a family-friendly, fun day at a winery!
Who to Invite
I love that the wineries in central Iowa offer a variety of times with live music and lots of green space.
Maybe you have a co-worker you’ve been wanting to get to know better. Invite her!
Haven’t gotten together with your neighbor and her family for awhile? Bring them!
Trying to think of something unexpected to do with out-of-town guests? Surprise them with a trip to a winery.
Most wineries charge a small cover fee and some (like Summerset Winery in Indianola), even have a by-the-car savings option. I bet you know how many kids you can cram in your minivan, but have you ever tried to find out how many wine-loving mamas your grocery-getter can hold?
I would encourage you to check your winery’s event page before deciding to invite any canine compatriots to the party.
Where to Sit
I have found that it’s easier when we go as a family if we’re able to get there right as the event starts. Of course, this only happens if I have budgeted my time to get out of the house right and nap times have aligned and I remembered everyone’s favorite stuffed animal/blanket/toy (this isn’t just my house, right?).
What getting there early buys you is more selection. Often times, wineries don’t have a lot of shade. I like to have that as an option for my family. If shade isn’t an option, I prefer my choice of perimeter seating.
Most wineries have music, and although that’s one of my favorite parts, I also want to be able to hear people chat. Plus, the perimeter allows for more kiddo shenanigans (again, not just my house, right?).
What to Bring
I love, love, love that wineries encourage you to bring your own food! Fruit, crackers, nuts, cheese — all easy, all kid-friendly (allergies withstanding), all perfect for quickly throwing in a cooler.
If you’d rather not hassle with bringing food or if your hubbies and man friends aren’t that thrilled with an afternoon of strawberries, Wheat Thins, and Dove chocolate, a number of wineries offer food on site! Prairie Moon Winery has the most del-ici-oso woodfire pizza, and Jasper Winery is grilling up burgers and brats for you beer and red wine lovers.
In addition to all your yummy snacks, feel free to bring bottled water and non-alcoholic beverages. We want you to stay awhile!
If you have your always ready summer fun bag packed and in the car, then you’re probably good to go as far as kiddo entertainment. If not, frisbees, bubbles, or even some books would be great items. Some wineries, like Snus Hill, have hula hoops and bocce ball!
Some of your older kids might even enjoy a tour of various vineyards or learning about the wine-making process (you can even call this an educational outing).
I am so excited to get back to the winery circuit this summer. If you’re looking for more information on local Iowa wineries that might be near you, check out Travel Iowa.