Winery + kids = not such a smart idea, right? Well, yesterday I took my kids to Old Creek Ranch Winery in Ojai, and it was actually a success. I had been looking for an activity and had been curious about this winery for years, having seen the signs off Route 33 every time I've been up to Ojai. They enjoyed our visit to McGrath farm last week, so I explained to them that this week we were going to a "Grape Farm" so mommy could buy some wine (for my upcoming local wine tasting) and so we could have a picnic. They were excited, especially because they were hoping to eat a lot of grapes.
After turning off the 33 onto Old Creek Road, the road meanders and curves, lined with beautiful houses (both big and small), stretches of stone wall, and colorful flowers. When the road ends at the winery, visitors are greeted by fields of grapes, a few quaint little buildings, and the most beautiful landscaping - from roses and irises to lavender and poppies. A little anxious about how the kids might behave, we went into the tasting room. There were a few other people tasting the wines, so we kept our stay brief. I tasted the 2005 Merlot ($18.50), from grapes grown in the Santa Ynez Valley, purchased a bottle, and asked if it was okay to have a picnic. The gentleman working the tasting offered a tablecloth, bottle opener, and wine glasses, but I explained that we wouldn't need a thing, and that we were more of a peanut butter and jelly kind of crowd.
We ate our lunch outside in the warm sunshine at one of the nice picnic tables on their patio. The kids asked about the big wine barrels, which prompted a fun discussion of how wine is made. "Grape juice turns into wine," I explained. They were pondering how we could sneak in and eat some grapes, but were quickly distracted by a cat wandering around. As they followed the cat, I sat enjoying the surroundings, knowing it was a bit chilly and cloudy back home in Ventura, happy to have found another fun and picturesque picnic destination. Next time I'm going to take my husband so he can watch the kids outside while I taste more of their wines inside.