The last thing a parent wants when traveling with their kids is incessant whining, but some wine-ing is usually beneficial for everyone involved. I learned this important lesson when visiting Estes Park with my littles when we went to visit Snowy Peaks Winery just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park.
You may not think that visiting a winery is the best idea on a family vacation, but that only means you haven’t been to the right winery yet. Snowy Peaks is practically a hole in the wall on the side of the road just down the street from a bustling downtown sector that would be easy to miss if you weren’t paying attention. As soon as you walk in the door you’re confronted with all sorts of wine-related items that you didn’t know you always wanted, but that’s just the beginning.
While parents take their places at the walk-up bar and prepare for tasting, kids can head into the “No Wine-ing Zone”. There are books and magazines, board games and toys. Kids can color a picture and leave to decorate the walls as proof that they were there. (It’s just like carving your initials in a tree, but not.) If and when they are finished with this kid-friendly area, they can join the adults at the bar.
I know it sounds scandalous, but it’s not. In addition to the wide variety of blends made exclusively from Colorado-grown grapes that adults can try until they’re pink in the cheeks, the owners also proudly serve specialty juices made by another Colorado-based company. The whole family will be feeling the Colorado love when the first ounce of delicious-ness graces their lips. And then the second, and third, and so on and so forth.
Adults have a myriad of choices of reds, whites, and dessert wines. The kiddos can choose from blackberry, peach, and cherry, just to name a few. Don’t expect ANYONE in the family to stop after their first glass. Lucky for you, Rocky Mountain National Park is just a short way down the road where the adults have the chance to sit and enjoy the flavors and kids can run off all the sugar.
If you’re so inclined, the owners will take you down to the basement where the magic really happens. Here, your little loves can see where the grapes are crushed and the massive vats where the wine is stored for aging. While you can certainly turn this into an educational experience by encouraging your kids to ask questions about grapes, harvest, and the winemaking process, they are more likely to be entertained by the long ramp in the back that doubles as a slide or by seeing their own distorted reflection in the shiny storage containers.
Estes Park is an outdoorsman’s paradise, and it’s more than appealing to any traveler who enjoys a charming, off-the-beaten path destination — but no one is going to love this place more than the kids. Make sure you have the complete experience by adding Snowy Peaks Winery to your itinerary on your next visit.