Rutherglen wine region in Victoria, Australia is one of the country’s little hidden secrets. Much smaller than the more famous wine areas such as the Margaret River, Barossa or Hunter Valley, this means that far from coming across lots of bus tours and crowded tasting rooms, instead there are plenty of tiny family friendly wineries run by multi generational wine makers that welcome parents with small kids. Famed for their sweet wines (locally referred to as “stickies”) the kid friendly wineries of Rutherglen make for a perfect couple of days of wine tasting and family bonding. Here are some of the more family friendly wineries in Rutherglen.
This cellar door really looks more like a café than a winery and that is what is so great about it. As well as sampling their small vino range (including the classic durif and tawny which are famous in the region), you can also taste their impressive extra virgin olive oils and some of the condiments on sale. Like what you’ve tried? Then take a seat and order a meal from the kitchen either in the sizeable dining room or at the many tables out in the sunshine.
As far as kid friendly wineries go, this little winner is a nice blend of charming and quaint but with enough facilities to keep the children entertained. Outdoors there is a boules area, plenty of grass to play, a koi pond, peacocks and an old dog wandering about.
The old mine shaft lends some history to the area (check the back of the wine labels to learn more) and dog water bowls encourage you to bring your pets to spend a pleasant afternoon in the sun. The café has a small menu of hot and cold items and if the weather is unpleasant, there is also a small kids play area with a train set inside the tasting room/café.
[Rutherglen is only 40 minutes drive to Milawa which is home to the famous Brown Brothers estate. For more family travel tips on this kid friendly winery, see the suitcases&strollers story Road Trips With Kids: Driving Between Melbourne and Sydney.]
What makes All Saints a kid friendly winery is that it is set on massive grounds which means there are lots of options for entertaining children while you try the shiraz and the muscat.
Outdoors there is a huge grassy lawn with a duck pond for kids to run on (BYO balls and Frisbees are encouraged) as well as the rose garden to explore. Children can also do some tasting of their own at the Indigo Cheese Co. next door.
Inside the large wine tasting room there is a small colouring table to keep little ones indoors. This leads to the Terrace restaurant entrance and while this boasts a new chef, degustation menu (one of the best in the area) and accompanying kids menu, it is a little fussy for very small children and the kids set menu prices (which are compulsory for all children at the table) are quite prohibitive.
[Still keen to try it out? For more travel tips on eating in expensive restaurants with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
If you prefer to try the restaurant on your own, indulge in a few drinks and leave the kids at the hotel with a babysitter, there is a free chauffeur service available within Rutherglen and neighbouring towns on Saturday nights.
Rutherglen is famous for its sticky wines and the muscat and tokays are particularly renowned at Campbells. Inside the tasting room kids can get a glimpse of the wine barrels, snack on some bread sticks and colour in at the small play table.
Outside there is a grass area (this is not fenced off from the carpark so small kids should be supervised) and some cute wooden ponies just begging to be ridden.
This kid friendly winery has a strong range of fortified and vintage fortified wines to try, so it’s best to bring some quiet outdoor entertainment for the kids. Inside the tasting room there isn’t a dedicated play area, but the outdoor grassed courtyard is enclosed and gated from the carpark so parents can take turns supervising in the sun as you sip your way through the delicious wine list.
The tiny cellar door here is famed as much for their two old bulldogs as for their gorgeous LJ red and marsannes. While there are no specific kid friendly activities here, there is a pretty French style café where you can enjoy a meal and the kids will get a kick out of exploring the attached gallery that features sculptures made out of old farm machinery and metal.
[Have you got fussy eaters? For parenting tips on getting kids to try new foods, see the suitcases&strollers interview with toddler and baby food expert Annabel Karmel.]
The Practicalities of Kid Friendly Wineries in Australia
Australia has very strict drink driving laws. In Victoria drivers must breath test below the limit of 0.05 to be able to drive legally. The roads are regularly patrolled and there are heavy penalties for driving while intoxicated, especially if there are children in the car. If you think you might want to indulge a little bit, always take a taxi or hire a driver.
Rutherglen is closely located to the twin towns of Albury and Wodonga where there are plenty of family friendly accommodation options as well as amenities and stores. For more family travel tips on family friendly accommodation in Albury Wodonga, see the suitcases&strollers travel story here.