Family Winery Tour

Gary, Jack, Natalie, Amy and Michael Gross.

Gary, Jack, Natalie, Amy and Michael Gross.


By Amy Gross – 

As I write this month’s column, I am escaping the heat, instead enjoying winter in Patagonia with my family. We arrived in Chile, then ventured to Argentina and will return for another two days in Santiago before flying home.

On our first full day, we visited Emiliana, an organic and biodynamic winery in the Casablanca region of Chile between Santiago and Vina del Mar. Emiliana’s wines are imported by Banfi, so you can easily find many of them locally. And yes, I find them delicious!

You might be wondering why I would take my children on a winery tour, assuming I was selfish as the children entertained themselves with books and electronics, while my husband and I enjoyed the wines. But, you would be very far from the truth.

Natalie and Michael Gross enjoyed the animal sightings at Emiliana.

Natalie and Michael Gross enjoyed the animal sightings at Emiliana.

At Emiliana, the whole family was entranced by the chickens and guinnea fowls marching through the rows of vines. We wondered about the chicken coops on wheels, and we learned that these animals protect the vines by eating the pests, which might endanger the vines. We also learned about the other animals kept on site to attract bugs that will also keep the vines safe by eating more of the pests, keeping them under control. We learned about the olive trees that line the road, capturing dust that might otherwise land on the vines and grapes as they grow.

Felipe, our gracious host, also took us into a cave to explain a few principles of biodynamic farming and showed us a few elements that are used in farming. He explained how biodynamic farming transfers energy and how people have been following its practices for centuries. The next morning at breakfast, my husband used one of Felipe’s statements, telling the kids to drink their orange juice, which contained energy from the sun.

I share this as summer is winding down, and perhaps you are planning one last vacation or a trip to a wine region to experience harvest this fall. Kids don’t need to be left behind when it comes to vineyard tours. Of course, you know your children’s behavior and maturity level, so please take that into great consideration.

When the kids are of the right age and temperament, a trip to a winery as a family can be a fantastic experience. Check websites, call ahead and take your next winery tour deeper than just a taste of the wine. Experience the farming, if you can. If you do, the experience can be so much more valuable for the whole family. I have no doubt my kids will be talking about their trip to Emiliana for decades, perhaps while sharing a bottle of wine with friends – in years to come, of course – and maybe even future spouses when the time is right.