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by Tom Perry
Imagine you’re a young couple with two small children. You’re also wine lovers and would like to visit a Rioja winery. But you have a problem: you can’t find a baby sitter and your parents are busy. What do you do with the kids? The answer is simple – bring them along! There are numerous options for families in Rioja wineries. Here are a few examples.
Bodegas Valdemar has an experience that is tailor-made for children: “In Search of the Magic Grapes”. Here, kids actually visit the winery with their parents. While the adults listen to a technical explanation of the winemaking process and taste wines, the youngsters follow a series of clues leading them to the elusive archaeologist Count Valdemar and his treasure: the magic grapes.
This treasure hunt requires the children to follow a map, counting steps and turns to a tasting area inside the bottle ageing cellar where they find bottles of red and white grape juice. Here, their task is to put the winemaking process – aging in oak barrels, fermentation, bottle aging, harvest and labeling – in order.
The tour proceeds to the old bottle cellar where the children find Count Valdemar’s study and the magic grapes – gummy candies that actually taste like red, rosé and white wine.
For “In Search of the Magic Grapes”. Bodegas Valdemar received a ‘Best Of Wine Tourism’ award for innovative wine tourism experiences from the Great Wine Capitals Global Network. More recently, the winery received the international award for the most innovative tourism experience from Drinks International.
Vivanco Kids is designed to teach children wine culture by using grape and wine-related elements as creative materials. Every Saturday between 11am and 3pm the winery organizes workshops so that children aged 3 and older can learn about the marvelous world of wine with their families.
These workshops change with the season. ‘Winter in the Vineyard’ allows children to create objects using different materials found in a vineyard in winter like branches, leaves and vine shoots. Each child creatively combines them with other materials such as bottles and corks to make interesting objects.
‘Summer in the Vineyard’ centers around visits to Bacchus’ Garden on the Vivanco estate to observe the changes taking place in the vineyard – shoots, grapes, the creation of sugar inside grapes, pollinization and the role of insects.
At CVNE and Viña Real, children are entertained and taught the basics of wine culture while their parents visit the winery. They learn about wine at a games library and with a proprietary program called Viñart. This activity combines storytelling, creativity, gastronomy, games and music. Depending on the time of the year, children can actually pick a few bunches of grapes in the vineyards and learn about winemaking in the winery using easy-to-understand language under the supervision of a specially trained monitor.