Visiting The Clare Valley with Kids

About 100 kilometres north of Adelaide, the Clare Valley is a fantastic spot for a family getaway.

Coincidentally, it's an area famed for its great wine - especially Riesling. Put off by memories of sickly sweet Riesling back in the 80s and 90s? Think again, and use a visit to the Clare Valley as a way to rediscover this great variety, along with many others.

Last year we spend a three nights in the Clare Valley with our three-year old and another family with a 5 and 7 year old. And what a great time we had! This post doesn't aim to cover every family friendly aspect of the region, but at least shares with you some of our highlights!

Riesling Trail 

The Riesling Trail was one of the first rail-trails to be developed in South Australia and runs for 36 kilometres along an old railway line between the towns of Auburn and Clare.

The trail is suitable for recreational walkers and cyclists of all ages, as well as wheelchairs and pushers. To me, it's the most obvious fun, energy-burning activity for you to do with the kids in the Clare Valley.

And did I happen to mention that the trail travels past MANY cellar doors so works very well for our Winey Mums, Dads and Grandparents! There are numerous loop trails that allow you to return to their starting point without travelling over old ground.

Hire bikes, walk it, run it... just do it!

Sevenhill Winery 

No visit to the Clare Valley is complete without a visit to the historic Sevenhill Cellars - the first winery ever established in the region! A great wine-tasting experience is available here and you'll learn about their strong connections with Jesuits who settled in the area in 1851 to plant vines for sacramental purposes, and maybe even spot a Brother or two, as Sevenhill remains the only Jesuit-owned winery in Australia.

But aside from the history and the wine, this place ROCKS for children and families. For starters, the indoor play corner is quite possibly the best one I've seen in a cellar door itself - and I've seen a few! Our little people were more than happy to spend sometime here whilst we did a tasting.

Plus outside there were HUGE expanses of green lawn to play on, totem tennis, a basket full of balls for a kick around and a general family-friendly feel.

Shut the Gate 

If you're serious about your wine then you MUST spend an hour or two at Shut the Gate to discover some really interesting wines. This is one of those cellar doors that offers an uber-cool tasting experience with a really personal touch from the great hosts. Brilliant brilliant brilliant.

From the kids perspective, there's a lovely courtyard garden area for them to explore - but make sure they are supervised as there is a creek that runs through the property. It's the kind of cellar door we recommend for the 'discerning Winey Kid' as it's not particularly family-focussed (and neither should it be!) but is most definitely survivable with a well behaved child. And you REALLY shouldn't miss it! This is time for Mummy and Daddy fun!

Mintaro Maze

When it's time again for the kids to burn some energy, take a break from wine tasting and head over to Mintaro Maze to get them lost in a living hedge maze consisting of 800 conifers! As well as the maze, there are heaps of other games for them to play.

O'Leary Walker Wines

O'Leary Walker stands in my mind as the place that I confirmed my personal understanding of the distinct difference between a Riesling made from grapes grown in the Watervale subregion of the Clare Valley, versus grapes grown in the Polish Hill subregion of the Clare Valley. Give me that Polish Hill minerality any day!

But aside from this, this is a beautifully spacious cellar door and our kids happily did some colouring in (provided by the lovely staff) whilst we did our tasting. PLUS there's a HUGE expanse of green lawn with stunning views that any Winey Kid would be happy to kick a ball around for a while! We didn't eat here but I'd confidently try one of their regional platters knowing that we'd survive as a family in this gorgeous location.

Bungaree Station 

Taking a break from wine again (see how things change when you're a parent?), Bungaree Station is worth a visit with the family when staying in the Clare Valley. In fact, I've heard great things about actually staying at Bungaree Station as a family!

It was a cold, wet day when we visited but all kids remained happy and wHine free which is always the measure of a good experience. We did the self-guided history trail and the kids enjoyed learning about the history of the station.

Sevenhill Hotel, Sevenhill 

Ok, back to food and wine. We booked a table at the Sevenhill Hotel for lunch for 4 adults and 3 kids about 10 minutes prior to arriving. "We've only got space for you in the cellar. Is this ok?" was the question when booking, to which we hastily accepted as anyone with hungry kids knows they need feeding when they need feeding!

This turned in to one of the BEST family lunches ever! Despite having only booked 10 minutes before, they'd set up our table of 7 in the cellar - with only us down there - surrounded by a great collection of local wines! The kids places were all set up with kids menus and activities for them to do. We were all so relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed this lunch. Highly highly recommend!

The Rising Sun Hotel, Auburn

I find when visiting a new region it's handy to know of places you can get an evening meal that also have a kids menu. The Rising Sun met this criteria and offered us a great evening out with delicious kids food and activity packs. Again worth noting that these places are for discerning Winey Kids - best behaviour required - because they are fundamentally adult environments and we must respect fellow diners seeking adult time!

The Little Red Grape

The Little Red Grape provides one of those one-stop-shop destination for families! The destination includes a bakery (perfect for sugar hits, bribes, caffeine hits, easy lunches), a beautiful homeware store (perfect for Winey Mums needing retail therapy) AND a lovely cellar door featuring a range of local winemakers.

Whilst I don't remember the cellar door itself being that family friendly, it's good to know there's a big green lawn and adjacent donut supplies to keep little people happy whilst some of the adults can have a quick taste!

Top tip! 

Something that sticks in my mind as being particularly successful on this trip away to the Clare Valley was my friend Mel's super-Mum idea to put together amazing activity packs for the kids. She bought special bags and filled them with heaps of cool activities, colouring in, pens, pencils, games and more. They loved these bags so much that they were happy to take them along to anywhere that wasn't particularly kid focussed and were more than happy to dig something out of them to keep them occupied.

Of course you couldn't expect them to be using their activity packs for the whole trip - which is where the Clare Valley was absolutely superb in providing a nice balance of things for both adults and kids to enjoy.

The above ideas only touch the surface of the Clare Valley. We'd love to hear from you as to where you recommend visiting as a family in this beautiful region!

It's not goodbye...

To all the Winey Mums, Winey Dads, wineries and any other people tagging along for the ride...


We are incredibly proud of what we've achieved with Winey Kids. From what started as a simple blog listing our favourite family friendly cellar doors, we've grown what I often refer to as a 'cult' following of almost 5,000 people.

I know many of you are local to southern Adelaide and many of you have changed your family 'habits' as a result of the information we've shared, now spending more time together as a family exploring and enjoying our beautiful region. We truly love this.

We know, from word of mouth and feedback from wineries, that visitation by families to cellar doors has increased; spending has increased and awareness of McLaren Vale as a family friendly destination has risen dramatically. The results have been overwhelming.

From the blog and active Facebook page, we've grown to be a business that has hosted over 30 successful events in the last two years - from the ever popular Mummy's Wine Club events, to the Daddy's Beer & Meat Club, the Teddy Bears Picnic and most recently the Winey Kids Vintage Tour.

We've successfully published a McLaren Vale Little Explorer Activity Book, featuring activities and challenges at 15 family friendly cellar doors. The book is stocked in 8 local cellar doors, local businesses, local accommodation and the McLaren Vale Visitor & Information Centre.

We've won a couple of awards - namely the Best New Business in the McLaren Vale Business Association awards 2014 and more recently a Bronze award in the Destination Marketing category at the South Australia Tourism Industry Council awards 2015. 

We've been featured in local media, the Advertiser, SA Life, and our social media posts have been shared with millions across the globe via popular pages such as Tourism Australia. Just last week we've been talked about in the USA as an example of good practice destination marketing.

We've been active in our community, believing that it's important to play an active role in helping the world to be a better place. We've dedicated time to organising the family friendly aspects of the popular Harvest Festival two years running; walked as part of a team from Willunga to Adelaide, raising $40,000 for the Hutt Street Centre; we've sponsored local community events such as the Flicks at the Flat; and raised money for post natal depression services and the McLaren Vale Hospital. 

What we've been doing has been 'different' from the norm, with a fairly progressive approach to destination marketing. If you're interested in the theory, what we've been demonstrating is freakin' awesome content marketing to a niche (and previously untouched) market; with aspects of influencer marketing thrown in. And it's worked. The stats and the stories prove it.

As both professionals AND parents, we've learnt so much. And we've met so many lovely lovely people. 

However. This has all been on top of running our existing successful full time consultancy businesses, working with numerous clients on community engagement and digital marketing. This has all been on top of our own family commitments. It's also been predominantly funded out of our own pockets. 

And now, if we're really honest, we are tired.

From a simple idea, Winey Kids has literally 'snowballed' in to a great concept which has taken up more and more of our time and energy.

Because we're tired, and because we're growing our little family this year, as well as focusing on our core work and other existing community commitments, we're going to be taking a break from Winey Kids for a while.

What do we mean by taking a break? Well, there'll be no new content on this page or our blog for a while - but if you're looking for ideas on places to visit, scroll through the old posts and photos and you'll get heaps of ideas. Our Little Explorer Activity Books will still be available for purchase at the Visitor Centre and various cellar doors. 
Also visit our blog for plenty of suggestions - 

There'll also be no events happening during this time, including Mummy's Wine Club.

Someone recently told us that they felt Winey Kids had probably reached its limits. To that person, no it hasn't. No way whatsoever. This is just the beginning of what's possible and we thank you for motivating us to become even bigger and better.

We'll be back. But for now, we're going to take a bit of time out to draw a line in the sand, regroup and more than likely return with a slightly bigger family and an even bigger and better Winey Kids...


Becky, Dan, Elsie & Bump

3 Reasons McLaren Vale is Fast Becoming the Ultimate Adult Playground

There's some really exciting stuff happening in McLaren Vale at the moment. And no, it's not a new toy box at a winery; or a discovery of a new shady lawn area outside a restaurant for your toddler to run on.

I'm talking adult things. Grown up things. You know, the things that excite you when you aren't labelled as just a Mum or Dad?

There are three new developments happening in the McLaren Vale wine region as I type. And I've selected these three to share as the potential they bring for our region is huge and it really excites me. Each will no doubt feature in our future posts, either as 'Book the Babysitter' type places to visit as a couple or with your friends; and maybe some as places you can enjoy with the whole family.

But for now, let me tell you what's exciting me...

1) The Hardy's Tintara development, Main Road, McLaren Vale 

The winemakers from Hardy's Tintara recently presented at one of our Mummy's Wine Club events and amongst the wine tasting and chit chat, my ears pricked up when they talked about the redevelopment that had been happening onsite at their winery on Main Road in McLaren Vale. To date, I'd only seen it as 'oh that's just Hardy's upgrading their facilities' but when they talked of inspiration from Warren Randall and his work redeveloping and reviving the Seppeltsfield site in the Barossa Valley, something suddenly clicked. The team at Hardy's were very keen to tell me more...

Hardy's Tintara has been in McLaren Vale from the day dot and they're now investing a cool $3million to build on their history to show people a glimpse of their story. Their end plan is to be a key tourism attraction (here's where we can compare it to the Seppeltsfield redevelopment) - a place not just about tasting wine, but experiencing the rich history that goes in to running a business over a 160 year period!

So far, their big changes have included a shiny new fence along the main street, as well as a newly finished tiled piazza which will be perfect for some of their upcoming events, like the Vintage & Classic Car Rally. And for those who want a glimpse of the inner workings of a winery, their new viewing platform looks directly out over one of their busiest cellars, including panels explaining the whole winemaking process.

Looking ahead, Hardys Tintara will be building a special room dedicated to fortified wines, including an impressive antique still, as well as the big ticket item to look forward to - a new cellar door on site to welcome visitors young and old, local and international to the home of Hardys Wines.

It's exciting times for such a familiar name in the wine world, and particularly exciting times for the McLaren Vale wine region as a whole to have one of their longest running wineries celebrating their presence right in the heart of the main township. 

We should absolutely all make some time to pop in and see (and show our support for) the new developments.

2) McLaren Vale Distillery, Chapel Hill Road, McLaren Vale  

Known to enjoy an occasional glass of the strong stuff, the McLaren Vale Distillery has been on my radar for a while and I'm very much looking forward to it both opening and also making a mark on the world of Whisky.

According to a recent article by AdelaideNow, we're talking in the region of $2.5million investment in the development of the distillery which will be aiming to make South Australia "the hottest spot in the trendy ultra-premium spirit world".  John Rochford, formerly one of Tasmania's leading distillers is back in his home state and is putting in place his long term dream to create one of the world's best whiskies.

According to the same article, the Distillery ultimately aims to become a tourism destination with the distillery itself, brewery, cheesery and other assets.

This is going to be exciting for McLaren Vale.

3) The d'Arenberg Cube, McLaren Vale 

You've been hiding under a rock if you haven't yet heard about the d'Arenberg Cube! But if for some reason you like it under rocks, let me bring you up to speed. 

On site at d'Arenberg, in the heart of McLaren Vale, construction has commenced on a five story multi-function building amongst the vines. 

The Cube will include a new tasting room, several bars, another restaurant, private tasting rooms, office accommodation and state of the art facilities on each level. 

Fourth generation family member and Chief Winemaker, Chester Osborn is the person behind the idea of the Cube who had the idea over 10 years ago. He is enthusiastic about building an architectural icon for the Fleurieu Peninsula region, as well as a general drawcard and interesting experience for visitors. From what I've seen, it most certainly is going to do that!

The media page for the development doesn't divulge the total cost of the development, but we're talking millions and millions. 

But of course amongst all of these fabulous multi-million dollar investments remains the heart and soul of McLaren Vale - our boutique, family owned cellar doors; glorious food, wine and lifestyle; and amazing sense of community. Whilst I'm totally excited about the three developments and believe they will each bring a unique

10 Ways to Enjoy a Visit to the McLaren Vale Wine Region When You're Pregnant

Being pregnant can be a very exciting time in your life! But equally it can be a time where you feel more tired than you’ve ever felt, nauseous all the time and generally like a big blob!

If you’re anything like me, whilst you love feeling those little flutters of the baby moving and tracking how big your baby is compared to a piece of fruit each week, you crave that ‘normal’ feeling you vaguely remember. Those times where you feel full of energy, where you don’t have to constantly bail on social arrangements made with friends, and those times where you can eat and drink all you like!

Living in the McLaren Vale wine region as a pregnant woman has opened my eyes to just how decadent and wonderful this place is. But of course most of the things I find decadent and wonderful… I can’t have! Some of the worlds best wines, pates, soft cheeses, cured meats, medium-rare steaks, the list goes on… Did I mention the wine? Oh and it’s not even just wine here in McLaren Vale anymore with breweries and distilleries popping up offering me even more temptation.

All of this deliciousness that I’m choosing to avoid whilst pregnant has led me to question what McLaren Vale has on offer for those who aren’t obsessed with all of the above? Trust me, I’ve spent a lot of time questioning what the hell I’m going to do for these 9 months, living in this piece of food and wine paradise!

My research has led me to the following top ten list of things to do in the McLaren Vale wine region whilst pregnant.. Of course the list isn’t exhaustive and I’m only half way through this pregnancy so any other suggestions are greatly welcomed!

1) Book a Pregnancy Massage

I recently took an hour out of my day to have an hour long pregnancy massage at Eleaner Day Spa in the town of McLaren Vale itself. They have a special massage table so you can lie on your front and your bump fits in a little hole. Simply getting to lie on my front was novelty enough! But the massage itself was perfect and I left feeling very indulged and relaxed. 

2) Enjoy Brunch with a View 

In this food and wine part of the world, breakfast or brunch seems to be the meal where, as a pregnant woman, you've got the best chance of being able to eat most on the menu (apart from the obvious runny eggs... oh how I miss Eggs Florentine). We recently enjoyed an incredible brunch on the new deck at the Star of Greece in Port Willunga with exquisite food and divine views of the coast. I left feeling both satisfied and refreshed!

3) Take a Stroll 

Ok, my energy hasn't been great during this pregnancy but it's still nice to get some fresh air and enjoy some beautiful surroundings. In the McLaren Vale wine region we've got some lovely places that you can enjoy a gentle stroll. My personal recommendations would be a walk on any of our fine beaches (any between Moana and Silver Sands are totally stunning and all unique in their own way) or a walk along the Shiraz Trail (PDF). 

4) Get your Chocolate Fix 

You're entitled to a treat or two, right? I personally love an ice cold Chocolate Frappe from The Cottage Bakery in McLaren Vale for a quick fix. In addition to this, we're lucky to have all kinds of delicious chocolate available in the region - from South Australia's famous FruChoc store in McLaren Vale through to boutique Four Winds Chocolate in Willunga. 

5) Visit a Cellar Door 

You don't have to miss out on all the winery fun, just because you're pregnant. Many McLaren Vale cellar doors serve more than just wine. Personal favourites are Angove Family Winemakers or Maxwell Wines for coffee and cake, or somewhere like Waywood Wines where Andrew and Lisa look after you with a real personal touch. I love how Lisa jazzes up my simply Ginger Beer with a slice of lime - it's the little things! Others worth visiting are Lazy Ballerina and Penny's Hill - because they stock delicious natural, local and seasonal Sunshine Ice Blocks! Yummo! 

6) Drink your Greens 

It's important you keep up your strength during pregnancy and give both yourself and your growing baby all the right nutrients. One of my favourite ways to feel incredibly healthy and proud that I'm 'doing the right' thing is to grab a delicious glass or bottle of Green Juice from The Garden Farmers stall at Willunga Farmers Market. The Garden Farmers passionately grow fresh, clean and tasty produce for the local community. They'll happily tell you all of the ingredients of their Green Juice - and even offer you a taste before you buy. Trust me, it's much tastier than you imagine. Under normal circumstances I love to add a splash of alcoholic fizz as part of a hangover recovery plan - but for now I use it as purely as it is intended!

7) Be Present 

If you're anything like me, you're not just pregnant. You're pregnant and juggling a million work, community and family commitments. For your own sanity, it's worth investing in some time to yourself to be present. Mindfulness, or being mindful, involves simply being present in the moment, observing how you're feeling, as well as the sights, smells and sounds around you. Find a bench, switch your phone to Airplane Mode so you won't be disturbed, set your alarm for 30 minutes and then simply sit. There are so many beautiful spots you can do this in the McLaren Vale wine region. I'll let you find your own bench... 

Note: Trust me, I've just laughed at what I've written. I seriously need to take some of my own advice. 

8) Enjoy a Mocktail 

I'm half way through my pregnancy now and I'm so fed up of sweet, fizzy drinks as a substitute to drinking wine! After a bit of local research, my personal un-sickly mocktails are Bella's famous Ginger Mojito or Strange Love's Blood Orange and Chilli drink, both at the Salopian Inn. You also can't go wrong with Hugh Hamilton's Shiraz Cordial - I especially love how The Barn serve it in a champagne glass with sparkling water. 

9) Grab a coffee

There's a lot of great coffee in the McLaren Vale wine region. You might think I'm crazy but as well as alcohol, I choose not to drink coffee whilst pregnant either! However, if you're someone who enjoys a decent coffee then it's well worth checking out Dawn Patrol Coffee who serve up a range of finest quality, single-origin, sustainable coffee from a cool shed in Kangarilla. They're open on Sundays from 9.30am to 4pm. 

10) Recover with some Country Hospitality 

It's been defined as probably one of McLaren Vale's best kept secrets, but the McLaren Vale & Districts War Memorial Hospital offers a post-natal recovery service. My plan is to have the baby at Flinders Medical Centre and then, all being well, transfer back to McLaren Vale for some midwife care, home cooked meals and general R&R in lovely quiet surroundings close to home (handy for family and siblings to visit). If you're keen, talk to your GP about getting admitted. Private post-natal patients even get a complimentary bottle of local wine to take home with them!  

Photo credit: Heidi Who Photos, at Harvest Festival McLaren Vale 

Dog Friendly Cellar Doors in McLaren Vale!

We had a question posted to our Facebook page from a family who are soon to be getting a puppy. They want to be able to continue visiting cellar doors as a family - but will soon have a Winey Dog in tow too!

So the question was about recommendations for cellar doors that are both family friendly AND dog friendly! We had 5 fabulous suggestions which are listed below!

  1. Penny's Hill - there's even some cool little dog sculptures near the entrance
  2. Lazy Ballerina - they recently hosted 12 great danes and their families!
  3. Lloyd Brothers  
  4. Red Poles - one Mum on the page said "if you sit out near the dam you can have them off leash if they are under control! Best food, coffee and service. I love this place!"
And whilst it isn't technically a cellar door, Joanne suggested The Old Vine at Aldinga. She said "If you are planning on taking your Winey Dog for a run along the beach, then pop in to The Old Vine cafe in Aldinga afterwards and enjoy the great outdoor area under the Morton Bay Fig and Carob Trees - plenty of room for puppy and kids!" 

Check them out! And don't forget to tell them that Winey Kids sent you!

5 family-friendly McLaren Vale cellar doors that welcome you for coffee!

I've got no idea why you'd go to a cellar door and drink coffee, but whatever floats your boat is fine by me. Just kidding, some of McLaren Vale's cellar doors are beautiful places to hang out and even for me, it isn't ALWAYS wine time!

We recently had a question posted to our Facebook page which asked which McLaren Vale cellar doors (which were also family friendly) serve coffee.

Here are the five that were suggested!

1. Penny's Hill
2. Angove Family Winemakers 
3. Gemtree Wines
4. Oxenberry Farm
5. Dowie Doole

All of the above are favourite hang outs for us, and I can confirm that all welcome little people with open arms.

I can't write a post about coffee without also mentioning Dawn Patrol Coffee Roasters based in Kangarilla who open up their uber-cool 'cellar door' on Sundays. It's a shed in the backyard so there's a very relaxed vibe and Little Miss 3 enjoys playing on the lawn outside whilst we enjoy a coffee tasting!

Pay them all a visit and tell them Winey Kids sent you!

McLaren Vale Wineries with a Kids Menu!

We recently had a question posted on our Facebook page which asked if any wineries or restaurants in the McLaren Vale wine region have a kids menu.

This question often sparks an interesting discussion as to whether our Winey Kids need a separate menu, or whether it's enough for them to simply eat from the main menu.

Speaking from my own personal experience, I'm totally in favour of a separate kids menu being available when we eat out. Our Winey Kid has great taste and enjoys a wide range of foods, but many of the foods we eat at wineries or local restaurants are just simply beyond the interest of her palate at age 3! When we're eating out as a family, I'd rather she eat something she enjoys and that we all have a nice experience, than me to be using eating out as an opportunity to encourage her to try foods beyond her interest.

What does disappoint me is when there's a separate kids menu that doesn't reflect the ethos of the eating establishment. For example, a restaurant famed for its fresh, local produce who serves up shop-bought chicken nuggets. It does happen!

So, back to the topic in question. Where in the McLaren Vale wine region has a kids menu? I posted the question on the page and the following answers were provided. The list certainly isn't exhaustive, but it's a start! I've broadened from just wineries as we've got so many amazing eateries in this region!

1. S.C. Pannell

This fabulous cellar door has an equally fabulous kids menu. Their offerings range from salt or chocolate popcorn, chicken fingers and chips, cheeseburger and chips, homemade chicko roll with chips, hot dogs, mac and cheese and more. Oh, and ice-cream. Of course!

2. The Oven at Lot 49 

The Oven at Lot 49, based within Parri Estate Winery has a kids menu including Mac 'n' Cheese Balls which are apparently delicious! They say that kids are more than welcome to order off the 'big kids' menu too.

3. Maxwell's Ellen Street Restaurant 

They don't just have a maze, they've got a kids menu too! Ellen Street Restaurant are also always happy to make up a half-size portion of items from the main menu too, if your little Winey Kid is in a discerning mood!

4. Beach Road Wines 

Beach Road Wines offers a kids meal deal which includes a pizza (with choice of toppings), a drink and of course, an ice-cream.

5. Salopian Inn

A personal family favourite of ours, for the days when we know Little Miss 3 is going to be on best behaviour! Between you and me, I prefer this place for a 'book the babysitter' kind of lunch or dinner but we eat here on special family occasions and love the simple kids menu available. From simple fish and chips to chicken wings and rice. Oh, and ice-cream.

6. The Old Bush Inn (aka the Top Pub) 

A lovely kids menu on offer at the popular 'top pub' in Willunga including 'petit sirloin steak', fish, schnitzel, pasta. Nice to see an option for salad or steamed vegetables as a side dish on the kids menu too! Oh, and ice-cream.

Other places that offer a kids menu... 

Oscars Restaurant
Tin Shed Cafe
McLaren Hotel
The Barn Bistro
The Cottage Bakery

6 Family Friendly McLaren Vale Cellar Doors who welcome your large group

A Winey Mum recently posted a question to our Facebook page which asked for recommendations of cellar doors in McLaren Vale that would be suitable for a group of 12 Mums, plus 12 (or more) children! The Winey Mum asking the question was worried that the idea of a group like this would scare potential venues - so we put the shout out for suggestions!

6 cellar doors were suggested by both our followers and the cellar door representatives themselves. 

The Restaurant Manager, Jess, answered the post saying "Ellen Street always welcomes groups and the maze makes it a perfect place for kids to play while Mums relax. Call 8323 8200 for any questions or bookings"

Winey Mum Jenni recommend newly opened "The Oven at Lot 49" which is based at Parri Estate Winery. She said that "nothing scares them and there's heaps of room for the kids to run around. I hear the Mac n Cheese balls are a hit!"

Winey Mum Emma suggested Beach Road Wines. She said "I would have thought Beach Road would be pretty up for it - pizza and ice cream and space to run around?" to which owner and winemaker Briony Hoare responded with "We love a challenge at Beach Road Wines! Lots of space. Happy to accommodate big groups and children."

Winey Mum Annie recommended Red Poles Gallery and Restaurant, also home to the Brick Kiln Cellar Door. She didn't give specifics as to why she recommended this place but we know from personal experience and feedback from others that this is a great spot to relax whilst there's plenty of space for the kids to explore. We personally love the lawned area for a relaxed dining vibe in the warmer months. 

Two Winey Mums, Leenie and Nicole suggested Lazy Ballerina. Owner and winemaker James Hook promptly replied with "Always welcome at Lazy Ballerina" which gives us the thumbs up! We personally love the gardens and relaxed vibe at Lazy B. A great spot for a big group for sure. 

Winey Dad and Paxton employee Brian said that Paxton Wines "would welcome you with open arms!". When I queried the food options at Paxton Wines, Brian said there's an opportunity to 'build your own platter' with food items purchased in the cellar door. Sounds good to me!

7 Steps to Making your Cellar Door more Parent-Friendly

So, you've decided that adults in their late twenties, thirties and forties are a key demographic you'd like to attract to your cellar door. Fantastic! It's always good to have identified key target audiences as it means you can work on marketing strategies specific to that group.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are approximately 2.8 million "couple families with resident children" in Australia. That's 5.6 million adults in Australia who, if they were wanting to drop in to your cellar door, might have a little tribe following them!

So, what can you do to make your cellar door be more parent-friendly? Here at Winey Kids HQ we've had a little brainstorm (over and above the usual 'have a toy box') and come up with the following list, with a few of our favourite McLaren Vale examples. You may have other ideas - this list certainly isn't exhaustive. Remember, we don't expect you to be parent-friendly - as parents, we just celebrate it when you are!

1) Acknowledge the whole family - When we're out and about as a whole family, we're exactly that - a whole family. It's both courteous and friendly to say hi and acknowledge everyone. A simple "Oh hello, what's your name? Are you having a good afternoon?" makes little people feel special (and therefore more likely happy) and more importantly puts the parents at ease that you're happy they are there. We always get a warm welcome from the team at Beach Road Wines and loved it during a recent visit to Penny's Hill when the toy box was 'presented' to the kids to explore!

2) Offer the child a drink - Mum and Dad are about to oo and ahh over all sorts of amazing flavours, probably enjoying a few almonds, olives and dukkah from your tasting plate as they go. To help little people feel part of the experience, it's a nice gesture to offer them a drink. We love places like Oliver's Taranga and Goodieson Brewery who have a stack of plastic cups and water on offer. If you really want a cellar door who goes the extra mile, check out Coriole who love to offer Verjuice to the kids for tasting.

3) Point out the kids activities - If you've opted to have a toy box or games available at your cellar door, make a point of telling the family about them as part of your warm welcome! "We've got a great toy box over there if you feel like a play" or "There's a Bocce set if you're keen for a game?" again put both parents and kids at ease and make them feel welcome. Mind you, places like Gemtree Wines and Woodstock Wine Estate don't need them pointing out - the playground are easily spotted by those little people!

4) If you offer food, offer something for the children - It's your call whether you have a specific kids menu or simply offer smaller portions of your main menu. But either way, it makes a parents life so much easier if there's something for the kids to eat. Just make sure that the kids offering matches your overall ethos. For example, if you're food menu is about fresh, local produce then make sure this is reflected in the kids menu too. Do your research and ask parents who visit your cellar door what sort of food they'd like available in the future for their children. Again, Beach Road Wines have hit the nail on the head with a wood-fired pizza meal deal for the kids, and places like Woodstock Wine Estate and Ellen Street Restaurant at Maxwell Wines all have appropriate kids menus.

5) Pace things appropriately - Be aware of the pace that the parents are moving at. If they are pushing their luck and the kids are getting grumpy (or wHiney) don't expect them to want to linger. Offer a shortened tasting experience, or to take their tasting outside where the kids can have a proper play. We love spots like Samuels Gorge for their flexibility in where we stand or sit for a tasting - usually outside on the beautiful verandah whilst the kids explore the garden.

6) Don't make assumptions - Parents aren't just parents. The moment we have a child doesn't make us become second rate citizens or wine buyers! Today we are in front of you as parents, but tomorrow we may return with a corporate client, or as a couple to undertake your premium tasting experience, or next year to book a wedding. For example, we loved visiting Primo Estate as a family (they have kids packs available) but look forward to returning one day very soon to do their Joseph Experience tasting without child in tow.

7) Know your fellow parent-friendly cellar doors - As cellar door staff you'll often get asked for recommendations for other cellar doors to visit. Some people may be after particular wine styles, views, food options... or parent-friendly features! The best thing we recommend is a copy of our Little Explorer Activity Book is close to hand - 15 cellar doors that have activities and challenges for the kids to do! Available to purchase at McLaren Vale cellar doors as well as the Visitor Information Centre and Cottage Bakery on Main Road, McLaren Vale.

Good luck with your endeavours to be parent-friendly! We'll love you for it!

5 fabulous McLaren Vale Cellar Doors for a Rainy Day

Here we are in mid-winter. As lovely as it is to have some good rainfall on those sleeping vines, it can throw a spanner in the works when planning a visit to a few cellar doors - especially if you've got kids in tow and are generally reliant on big green lawns and tree climbing activities!

My first tip is when it's wet weather is to NOT attempt to visit a cellar door if your children are in feral moods! You're going to be inside, in a confined adult environment, and there's no escaping outside for a breather when it's tipping it down! This is not a good situation for you as a parent, or the other patrons! If this is a situation which might eventuate, wait for a day where you can enjoy the outdoor environment of a cellar door!

1) Maxwell Wines 

We often rave about Maxwell's for its maze, but when it's too wet to play outside, you'll find that inside can be just as fun. From inside the cellar door, you can look over the working winery; taste honey; and collect a Where's Molly Rose label to stick in your McLaren Vale Little Explorer Activity Book (also available to purchase at the cellar door)! The Ellen Street Restaurant, adjacent to the cellar door area, has an open fire to keep you toasty (remember supervise your kids at all times regardless of whether there's a fire or not) and a kids menu.

2) Angove Family Winemakers 

Another firm favourite on a sunny day, Angove's can be great on a wet day too. I think I could be bold in saying that they have Little Miss 3's favourite (well stocked) toy box, plus delicious hot coffee, cakes and platter lunches. The nice thing here is that the floor to ceiling windows mean you don't have to compromise on a view just because it's raining outside! If you get the leather lounges in front of the gas fire, I bet you'll be settled in for the whole afternoon! Our McLaren Vale Little Explorer Activity Book includes a nice 'draw your family crest' activity during a visit to Angove's.

3) Kay Brothers

Kay Brothers is somewhere I love to recommend for a picnic with an incredible view! But if the weather is far from picnic-friendly, they have a cosy cellar door for tastings too! You'll find a little treasure hunt in our McLaren Vale Little Explorer Activity Book, but they also have board games available. If they've got the fire going, settle in and enjoy your tasting!

4) Beach Road Wines 

There's nothing more beautiful than sitting under the tree on the lawn at Beach Road Wines, having a leisurely lunch with fabulous wine, pizza and views. On a wet day you'd assume this place isn't an option but they have a couple of great undercover areas which can get toasty with the heaters going. Plus the added bonus of ice-cream at the end of the meal (which includes a kids meal deal option of pizza, juice and an ice-cream) is a great 'you've got to sit nicely for this meal' reward. The lovely staff always seem to have paper and crayons to hand as welcome entertainment for the little people.

5) Parri Estate 

We normally promote Parri for their huge expanse of lawn and balls available for a kick around, but equally on a wet day, they have a large undercover area with heaters. The beauty of the 'outdoor indoor' type spaces is that they are less 'confined' and generally more relaxed for lunch. Parents of young children will hopefully understand what I mean by that! And being adjacent to the huge lawn, the kids can always dash out between rain showers to burn off that surplus energy!

Don't forget to tell them Winey Kids sent you!

There are heaps and heaps more wet weather options - but I have to stop somewhere. Feel free to share your favourite wet weather cellar doors via the comments below!

5 Tips for Visiting A Cellar Door with A Toddler

You've always loved nice things, nice places and if you are reading this, probably nice wine. But as a parent of a toddler you feel tired, tugged at, sick of primary colours and possibly a little bit overwhelmed. Visiting a cellar door to taste some wine is probably the last thing on your mind.

But we highly recommend it! You can't beat spending sometime in a civilised environment, experiencing the romance and elegance of wine and its production. 

With a little planning and a few strategies, you can find yourself sitting in a beautiful location, tasting delicious wine and even have a happy toddler! Enjoying time together as a family is so precious and it's even better when everyone enjoys it. 

Don't believe it? Read our top 5 tips to help you find your inner wine goddess!

1) Be realistic

It's time to accept the fact that you are a parent of a tiny person who demands attention on a second-by-second basis. That little person is also a time bomb which could 'explode' at any moment. I'm afraid gone are the days of really long and leisurely wine tasting. If you visit a cellar door with a big range available for tasting, work out a strategy to perhaps just taste a small selection of their wines. Maybe just try the white wines on this occasion; or just the reds; or just pick wines containing your favourite grape; or ask the person serving you for their top recommendations. 

The 'be realistic' tip is also applicable to the number of cellar doors you can visit these days! It's much better to visit just one or two and everyone be happy, than to attempt to visit more with a grumpy child!

2) Nominate a 'designated driver'

Of course it goes without saying that whenever you are visiting a cellar door, you need to know who is driving home so that they can monitor their alcohol intake closely, if they have any at all. But I'm not talking about driving a car, I'm talking about deciding who is in charge of the toddler! It's highly unlikely your toddler will sit and play at your feet nicely whilst the adults taste wine! Someone is probably going to have to follow them around a fair bit! 

We generally take it in turns as to who is going to keep a close eye on our daughter. It's always a good idea to agree this before you visit - just to prevent public disagreements!

3) Snacks, snacks and more snacks

Any parent of a toddler knows that they love a snack and it can buy you valuable time in any given situation! Keep your handbag stocked up with some of our toddlers favourite snacks and save them for when you need them! We generally let our toddler explore first and then once the novelty starts to wear off, out come the snacks!

4) Timing is everything

A day in the life of a toddler includes many highs and many lows. Our daughter is great all morning but then hits 'feral' mode shortly after lunch when it's nap time. We know that to survive a cellar door at this time of day there needs to be something really special and distracting about it! She survives a big group lunch with lots of other kids to play with, or an event where there's lot of food and space to run around! But to do a quiet tasting would not be an option at this time of day! 

We love late afternoon, post nap visits to cellar doors. She's refreshed from her afternoon nap but not yet desperate for dinner (but hungry enough to enjoy those snacks!). We're also at the time of day where we enjoy a glass of wine!

5) Do your research 

Pre-kids we would love turning up at cellar doors and not knowing a thing about it! We'd just wander in and go with the flow! But nowadays it makes sense to know something about the place you are visiting. It's awful to have a toddler with you in a very adult environment! One of the stories I often tell is about visiting a cellar door with beautiful Riedel stemless wine glasses stored on low-level open shelves! This cellar door was a gorgeous spot but isn't one we'd revisit with a wobbly-on-her-feet curious 18-month old!

Ask friends for recommendations, visit the cellar door website or send us a question at Winey Kids! Useful things to think about include the vibe of the cellar door (these days we're looking for a relaxed vibe!), if there's much space (cellar doors with lawns are our new best friends), or if there's a toy box. 

Winey Kids, April 2014

Our Top 8 Adelaide Hills Destinations!

We get asked a lot for recommendations of places to visit as a family in the Adelaide Hills wine region. Being our neighbours, we were more than happy to put a shout out for recommendations on our Facebook page and here's what we got! (in no particular order!)

1) Lobethal Road Wines 
2) Patch Kitchen & Garden 
3) Golding Wines
4) Anderson Hill
5) The Olive Branch Balhannah 
6) Kersbrooke Hill Wines and Cider 
7) Barristers Block Premium Wines
8) Deviation Road Winery 

Check them out, tell us what you think - and don't forget to tell them that you heard about them via Winey Kids!

McLaren Vale Little Explorer Activity Book

An image of our Little Explorer Activity Book, 24 colour pages for kids to explore the region with.

We are excited to introduce our family activity guide to McLaren Vale, full to the brim with adventures and fun to make your experience with kids a little easier.

24 colour pages, covering 15 wineries and local businesses who want you to discover the joys of McLaren Vale.

From climbing a carob tree to exploring a maze, learning about the history of the area and understanding how agriculture plays a big part in the McLaren Vale region or simply colouring in a tractor picture, there is something for all ages to enjoy.

Want to buy a copy?  Visit one of the below stockists:

  • Angoves
  • Fox Creek Wines
  • Gemtree
  • Kay Brothers
  • Magpie  Springs
  • Maxwell
  • McLaren Vale Visitor Centre
  • Oliver's Taranga
  • Penny's Hill
  • Shottesbrooke
  • The Cottage Bakery
  • Woodstock
  • Wirra Wirra 

We encourage you to share your fun via our Facebook page or using #wineykids.  Let us know how you get on and Happy Exploring!

Becks, Dan and Elsie
Winey Kids

Maxwell Wines, Olivers Road, McLaren Vale

There's a lot on offer for families at Maxwell Wines. I'd perhaps schedule yourself a few hours to spend there, starting with a coffee or hot chocolate in the Ellen Street restaurant, adjoining the cellar door. The cellar door staff provided little Miss 2 with some colouring sheets but once her hot chocolate arrived, she was nicely distracted with the beautiful biscuit and marshmallows!

After your coffee, perhaps head down to the maze. We understand this maze was first planted around 24 years ago and is now full height, with plenty of opportunity to get lost!

After your maze adventures, perhaps it's time to order some lunch in the Ellen Street Restaurant. We haven't eaten there but hear only good things, including numerous positive reviews on Trip Advisor! We have been advised that the chef is more than happy to prepare half-size portions of any item on the menu for your little people.

Perhaps whilst you are waiting for your lunch, you could have a quick taste of the Maxwell wine selection. Their mead is not to be missed!

Enjoy your lunch, and then perhaps finish off your visit with a coffee on the deck with beautiful views over the vines. Alongside the deck is a brilliant grassed hill - perfect for roly poly practice!

Coriole, Chaffeys Road, McLaren Vale

This really is a beautiful spot to spend a lazy afternoon with the family, enjoying top notch food and wine.

You'll feel relaxed the moment you arrive at Coriole, with the beautiful views and gardens. Alfresco dining in the summer is beautiful, and courtyard dining all year round makes for a very romantic setting.

And yes, I reckon even with kids in tow this spot would feel romantic! The kids won't know what to do first - climb a 100 year old Carob or Mulberry tree, explore the expansive lawned areas, name the food growing in the veggie patch, say hi to the beautiful chooks, have a game of bocce, or simply sit and enjoy their 'proper' chicken nuggets, battered fish and chips or half size of any menu item. 

Coriole really is a 'must do' family destination, especially having lunch and taking the time to soak in the surroundings.

Note: The cellar door is fairly small so no toy box... But who needs that when there's so much to explore outside!

Beach Road Wines, 309 Seaview Road, McLaren Vale

Beach Road Wines have a cellar door that is clearly embracing the 'parent-friendly' concept! We love it. Not only are the wines beautiful (Italian influence, great stories about each wine, as well as great flavours) but our little lady is made to feel welcome too. In the cellar door itself there's a huge 'chalkboard' wall as well as a toy box.

We had lunch at Beach Road Wines recently and it was delicious pizza with equally delicious views. My daughter couldn't believe her luck that they had ice-cream - with many flavours to choose from - served from a display fridge in to cones. Brilliant.

High recommend a visit to Beach Road Wines for any family.

Gemtree Wines, 167 Elliott Road, McLaren Flat

Photo of the kid friendly playground at Gemtree Vineyards

One of the few cellar doors in McLaren Vale to have a playground!

Add to this beautiful wines, possibly one of the best views in the area, lovely platters and a toy box - and you've got one of our favourite cellar doors!

They are also passionate about sound environmental practices, sustainable agriculture and innovation, both in the vineyards and in the winery, where winemaker Mike Brown pushes the boundaries of experimentation with biodynamic wines and alternative winemaking practices.

Don't miss the wetlands walk either!

Visit their website for further information.

Fox Creek Wines, 140 Malpas Rd, McLaren Vale

A beautiful little place for us and our little people to hang out. The cellar door itself is a tiny little area but in an adjoining room we were delighted to find a box of toys and a folder full of colouring-in options! Brilliant! And don't miss out on a cuddle with the little fox!

Outside there is a beautiful garden with bench tables and according to some of the older kids an awesome treasure hunt around the grounds. Seeing a young boy be provided with his first clue and clipboard just filled us with excitement for future visits when our little lady is older.

Looks like they do platters do! A top family spot!

Mclaren Vale Visitor Information Centre

Ok, again not quite a cellar door but you could argue that this place is the gateway to all the cellar doors! Plus they do have smaller wineries offering tastings so you might just be lucky!

But wine aside, there is a little cafe within the centre which opens on to a gorgeous shaded veranda overlooking a huge huge lawned area - guaranteed to burn energy! There's also a great play area for the older kids. From memory there's a dedicated baby change room and highchairs which make your visit even easier!

Definitely a very handy spot to know about.

DogRidge, 129 Bagshaws Rd, McLaren Flat

Another favourite cellar door of ours and well worth checking out. Also an 'as seen' in the very cool film, The Boys Are Back starring Clive Owen.

Tastings happen around a table - very relaxed and informal so with a toddler happy to entertain themselves (or supplied with a box of sultanas!) you should survive.

We chose not to brave a tasting this visit but instead bought a bottle, asked for a couple of glasses and sat outside in the lovely seating area (with a big shady umbrella) adjacent to a lovely big lawn.

Very relaxed and friendly spot. Highly recommend. Note of caution to be aware of the steep drop down to the creek.