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On the western-most edge of Fresno, surrounded by vine after vine, is a little oasis where steamy summer nights become enjoyable, where the scent of drying raisins wafts in the breeze as the sun sets over the crops, creating a pink-hued sky. Here adults can sit back and sip sangria, Cabernet, and chardonnay as their kids play on a pirate ship-themed jungle gym or go on a scavenger hunt for painted rocks hidden in the vineyard.
This hidden gem is Moravia Winery, where my family members and I frequently go to relax. Each Friday throughout the summer, the winery hosts Family Fun Fridays, complete with some form of entertainment, from local band performances to paint nights, and a food and dessert vendor.
Activities for kids is a priority
Owner Wendi Hammond says the Family Fun nights began when she and her family first opened the winery spot in 2012, but at that time few people were aware of them. Now, Moravia averages between 100 and 250 guests each Friday, and a third of them are under 21.
While most adults go to partake in a glass or two of wine—there is an entry fee of $5 for adults, which goes toward the first glass—the winery prides itself on being kid friendly. This is evident from its S.S. Moravia playground, complete with swings and a large sand box, and by the fact they serve kids’ sangria (non-alcoholic) for free.
“It all revolves around kids,” Hammond says. “Even with live bands, I try to limit the number of just musical entertainment. In fact, my grandson, who is five, thought of a little activity for the kids. He had done it when he was at camp and they had rocks hidden around the campground and if you found one, you could exchange it for a prize. He had that idea that we should have that here and hide the rocks out in the vineyard, so we painted rocks and did that, and he said we should do that on a night when there is a band because it is kind of boring for the kids. So we do music, but we try to have a variety of entertainment. We have Polynesian dancers, folkloric dancers last week, just fun things.”
Two Fridays ago was a big night for the kids—farm night. Farm night featured a free petting zoo where kids got to interact with goats, sheep, rabbits, and a miniature horse. Kids could also go on a hayride, and though it wasn’t on the agenda, many little ones had fun chasing frogs that had come out on the cool night to hop around in Moravia’s flowerbeds.
Popularity with locals leads to increased wine production
As the kids had fun playing with the animals, the adults indulged in their own sangria blend and sipped Moravia’s featured wines. Wines available for tasting included a 2015 Chardonnay, 2015 Alberino, 2015 Symphony, 2016 Dry Symphony, 2013 Merlot, 2013 Cabernet, 2013 Med Venner, and a 2016 Moscato.
Personally, I’m a fan of Moravia’s whites. The Symphony is my overall favorite. It is a semi-sweet variety from a Grenache Gris and Muscat Alexander with a floral noise and fruity finish. My other go-to is the sweet Moscato.
While the winery is young, in only its fifth full year of operation, Moravia has become quite popular, mainly with locals. The Moravia Wine Club currently boasts 400 members and just this month, its wines were introduced into the retail market via six Central Valley Costco locations.
With its popularity and sales increasing, Moravia is currently working to expand its production facility.
“We’re putting in a new production building,” Hammond says. “This will allow us to increase our production and bring our production of whites over here. We have been having to produce our whites off site at another custom crush facility because we don’t have the chill tanks and all of that equipment here, but now we’ll be able to do both whites and reds.”
As if winemaking and hosting family fun nights weren’t enough, Moravia is also host to around 40 weddings each year. And on Sept. 30, brides and grooms looking for an outdoor venue with the backdrop of a beautiful vineyard can stop by Moravia’s wedding open house, from 7 to 9 p.m. ($10 per person).
With the summer winding down, there are only six Family Fun nights left:
- There will be double the entertainment on Aug. 25 with Flamenco dancers and Grandma Nancy’s crafts, as well as Big Rigz BBQ.
- Sept. 1 will welcome No Town Five and Ruffoni Artisan Pizza.
- Sept. 8 will feature Color Me Mine, Grayson Conrad on classic guitar, and Where’s The Food.
- Sept. 15 entertainment will be Mariachi Alas De Plata, with food vendor Papa’s Mexican.
- Sept. 22, the winery will host Déjà vu and Grandma Nancy’s Crafts, along with the Dog Wagon.
- And for the final family fun night of the season—the Moravia harvest party—there will be entertainment courtesy of accordian player Rick Del Carlo and food available from Big Rigz BBQ.