Kids are welcome at this Sonoma County winery. (Photo: Amanda Marsalis)
If you’ve been to one winery, you’ve been to them all, right?
There are acres of grapes, clinking glasses, and enough wine to cater a Real Housewives reunion.
But in Sonoma County, nestled in the rolling hills and endless skies, lies one winery whose style is unlike any other.
Clearly, the Francis Ford Coppola Winery has the benefit of having a famous name attached to it. Coppola is the director and screenwriter behind famous films like The Godfather, and Apocalypse Now, and for many that’s enough to inspire a visit. After all, the property does have memorabilia from his movies on display in the movie gallery (think Don Corleone’s desk from The Godfather).
Some Godfather movie memorabilia. (Photo: Chad Keig)
But even with its touch of Hollywood glamour, that’s not what necessarily brings in thousands of visitors to the winery every year.
No, what makes this vineyard special, is the fact that while you’re sampling the Directors Cut Cabernet Sauvignon, your child can partake in a kid’s smoothie tasting.
That’s right, on Saturday’s and Sundays, kids can learn how to identify different flavors and aromas in their smoothies, similar to how adults sniff and sip different variables in wine tasting rooms.
See, unlike other vineyards in the area that cater solely to couples and girl’s trips, the Francis Ford Coppola vineyard considers itself a destination for families. As Coppola himself says, it’s “a wine wonderland, a park of pleasure where people of all ages can enjoy all the best things in life – food, wine, music, dancing, games, swimming and performances of all types. A place to celebrate the love of life.”
The pool and cabines at the Francis Ford Coppola winery. (Photo: Amanda Marsalis)
After walking through the vineyards majestic gates, the vibe is relaxed and welcoming — kind of like walking into a friend’s backyard party.
The pool (yes, there’s a pool!) is 3,600 square feet of entertainment, filled with children and families splashing away on a sizzling hot day. For those expecting a quiet pool to lay out and reflect, this probably isn’t the best option. But if the occasional splash from a kid doing a cannonball doesn’t stress you out, then it’s the perfect place to rent a chair, slap on the SPF, and sip on Sofia white wine in a can.
The pool also features 28 cabines (pronounced “ka-beens”), which are European-style personal changing rooms that you can rent out for the day. They offer a private space for families to store personal items, change, and even shower. Added bonus: each cabine comes with a reserved poolside chaise lounge chair.
Other family-friendly activities include a small library, an Easter Egg Hunt, Earth Day celebration, and Halloween Carnival.
There’s even Bocce ball and board games located on the terrace.
Popping open a bottle of Eleanor, a Francis Ford Coppola Winery Cabernet Sauvignon blend that never disappoints. (Photo: Brittany Jones-Cooper)
Even though the winery is kid-friendly, it certainly has a lot to offer adults in the form of wine tastings and fine dining at Rustic —the Italian restaurant on site.
Seasonal tours are also available for guests wanting to enhance their wine knowledge, with a behind-the-scenes look at how the grapes go from the vineyard to the bottle. Tours in September and October are particularly interesting, as guests get a first-hand look at various harvest activities.
With its theme parks and zoos, Southern California is usually referred to as the family destination in the state. But if you want a family vacation without crowds, where the kids can enjoy pool time and stargazing while you sip on a Chardonnay, then look no further than Sonoma.
And even if it’s a bust, how bad could it be? After all, you’re surrounded by wine!
WATCH: Brittany goes behind-the-scenes at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery