Being a part of the food allergy community, I have found that there are many resources for parents of young children with food allergies -which is wonderful! But what happens when these little ones grow up? I hope to be a voice that can lend some advice and help not only for young children and their parents, but for teenagers and young adults as well.
I recently went wine tasting for the first time (yes I have had wine in the over the last 4 years since I turned 21, but never gone to an actual vineyard and went wine tasting) a few weeks ago. My husband and I went on a wonderful road trip to celebrate our anniversary, from Southern California up to Washington. Our first stop was near Napa, so naturally I wanted to go wine tasting. Googling “wine tasting and food allergies,” I was not able to find anything helpful at all. So I wanted to make it a point to write about my experience, in order to help others with food allergies that would want to enjoy wine tasting.
My husband and I visited the Vezer Family Winery and had a wonderful time! As you can tell by my pictures, it was a beautiful property, and the wine was incredible – we left with 3 bottles (not just for us…2 were gifts). 😉
- Be willing to do a little research. I usually have 2 steps in researching: finding a safe option, and finding the best deal. My first step in locating a winery was visiting Groupon to see if there were any promotions available near the hotel we stayed in. Of course, Groupon did not disappoint, and there were a ton of great deals! I definitely recommend checking this to get a little more bang for your buck. Once we found a winery we liked, we called and informed them of my allergy.
- Make a phone call beforehand. When researching the different wineries, I found that many wineries will include a crackers or chocolate with the wine tasting, so I wanted to make sure that there would not be any issues with nuts. My phone conversations usually start like this…”Hello. I was hoping to find out some information from you. I have a severe (or life-threatening) peanut allergy, and was wondering if you use any peanut or peanut products in your facility?” Depending on the response I get, I may proceed differently. If the person does not seem to understand, I ask to speak to a manager or chef, and if they do not seem to understand, I don’t risk it. If the person on the phone does seem to understand, and can offer me information and security, then I will pay a visit!
- Ask to bring your own food. When we got in touch with the specific location of the winery, we found out that they did not serve food, and would allow us to bring our own food! Some wineries will not allow you to bring your own food (their other location did not allow food), so it is best to call ahead and ask. My husband and I stopped at Trader Joe’s and picked up salami and crackers to have with our wine on the way there (which was delicious to have with the different wines we tasted).
- Always double check (once more) when you get to the location. I always like to check once more that nothing has changed since I spoke to someone on the phone, and that the person that will be helping us is aware of my allergies. The man that helped us at the winery was very helpful, and reassured me that I would be safe in their location. He also was very kind and let us eat the salami and crackers that we had brought.
- As you always should, keep your Epipens handy. This should go without saying, but it’s always important to have your Epipens handy. While I have not had an allergic reaction in 20 years, I always have my Epipen in my purse. It’s just not worth the risk.
- Enjoy yourself! You’ve done your homework. You’ve got your Epipens. You’ve paid. Now enjoy yourself! Take in the beautiful surroundings – we got to walk along the grounds, and even taste a few grapes that had not been harvested yet. Enjoy your company, whether it be friends, family, or your spouse. I have to say this was one of my favorite parts of our trip, and was very romantic. And because we did the research beforehand, and brought our own snacks, I was completely relaxed and really enjoyed myself.